With increased car counts and growing interest from teams and manufacturers, the Pirelli World Challenge is set to undergo modifications to its format for next year, which could potentially include the addition of endurance races to the schedule.
Speaking to Sportscar365 in an exclusive interview, World Challenge President and CEO Scott Bove confirmed plans to split the GT and GTS classes into separate races for the majority of the events next year due to overcrowding.
This weekend’s Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge sees a massive 52-car field between the GT/GT-A and GTS entries, with similar sized grids causing traffic-related issues at street races earlier this year.
“I think in order to have both of them grow, we have to have [some split races],” Bove told Sportscar365. “We’d like to see GT be at 35 or close to 40 [cars], and we’d like to see GTS at the same. We’re not going to be able to have 80 cars on the track.
“So at some point, you’ve got to tell your kids to leave home, get their own apartment and separate.”
Bove said the next year’s schedule, which is set to again feature nine weekends, will likely see a mix of combined and split races, with the goal of making GT and GTS entirely standalone by 2016.
“We are pretty close to sorting out or schedule for next year where we will separate them on all the street courses,” Bove said. “That’s where the largest problem has been.
“We’ll probably do the same on some of the traditional road courses, whether they’d be Sonoma or Mid-Ohio or tracks of that size.
“For the longer courses, if we go to Miller or Road America, you can handle 60 or 70 cars. We don’t see that as an issue.”
There’s also been a push by some competitors for the addition of endurance races to the calendar, a topic that has been heavily debated over recent months within the paddock.
WC Vision will hold a Manufacturer’s Council meeting Saturday morning to discuss those options, and other possibilities with its stakeholders.
“We have been asked by our customer base, both OEs and teams and drivers about modifying the format,” Bove said.
“Pirelli World Challenge has been in existence for 25 years. We have a history in endurance racing, if you go back far enough. The Escort Endurance Series is where the Pirelli World Challenge got its roots.”
Bove said one of the possibilities could be to hold a two-hour ‘premium’ race, hypothetically either with a 10-minute intermission or five-minute mandatory pit stop for driver changes and service.
The series currently does not feature in-race pit stops, which cuts down on the number of crew needed to operate each car.
Part of the allure to the series, Bove said, has been its cost-effectiveness and keeping additional expenses at a minimum will be a major priority.
“It’s a very mixed subject. Some people would like to have a change in format and some people would not,” he said.
“My preference would be to leave things as they are, at least for 2015. I don’t believe that we’ve exploited the full capability of being the best sprint racing series in the world.
“I think we have the capability of being the very, very best. When you dilute your resources, you can never be the best.”