Following Part 1 of the Q&A, Sportscar365 wraps up its in-depth interview with new Pirelli World Challenge President and CEO Greg Gill with a look at the car counts, new machinery in GTS, as well as his goals for 2016 season.
What are your thoughts on the entry list for COTA, particularly on the growth of the GT class but also the decline of GTA competitors?
“If you recall, 2013, just two years from our 2015 championship, we had six cars in GT. So to have to have 20+ cars and world class racers at Laguna Seca [last year] was probably an indication that we would see that again.
“But the challenge has been — as it’s been reported by the SRO — when you have so many new [GT3] cars being built and delivered, and in some cases not being able to completed [in time for COTA], I think we’ll see a little bit more growth in the GT grid as more of these cars become available. But we’re very pleased with the caliber of teams and drivers competing.
“I believe the car delivery issue is also a part of it [in GTA]. I think we muddied the water by creating Sprint-X because people wondered then what might be.
“Frankly, as it’s been noted, the addition of IMSA with GT3 allowed some of the gentlemen drivers to try that for a while. But I do think we’ll see an increase over the year as that field will grow.”
GT Cup remains Porsche 911 GT3 Cup-only. Under the previous administration, there had been talk of opening it up to other Cup cars in the future. Is that still a possibility?
“Definitely for 2016 it’s a focus on Porsche Cup cars. I still hold to that option of bringing other manufacturers into a Cup series but I believe what you look at what Sprint-X will become [later in the year]… that will give us more time to bring more marques in and we can look at where they might sit best.
“Would it be something to augment GT Cup? Is it something that might fit into another area for the series?”
The GTS classes has seen an influx of new low-production “kit cars” such as the KTM X-BOW and others. Are you confident of having a good balance between the existing cars, such as the Mustang and Aston Martin?
“Watching Marcus [Haselgrove, PWC Competition Director] and his team work with it and even Stephane [Ratel] sent over Claude Surmont [SRO technical director] to be part of the test, I believe they’ll have a very accurate balance.
“For the most part, these cars have run in Europe already in the GT4 class, so we have a lot of data. But we’ve been able to pull even more data from the test [earlier this month] at COTA.”
Do you see GTS becoming a full GT4-spec category in the future?
“We’ll approach that very carefully. If you recall in 2012, we took our first GT3 car. Over three years, [GT] migrated and became a GT3 category.
“The same thing is a possibility for GTS but I want to stress it’s a possibility. It’s not a current goal or plan for us. We’re looking at it, we’re considering it and we’ll be very careful how we roll it out.”
Is the Utah event still confirmed, given the developments over the track ownership/lease?
“Yes. Given the difficulties, they’ve been completely transparent with us and very upfront and have maintained every opportunity and even accelerating deadlines on their part, just to make it clear that they’re committed to the series and we really appreciate that.
“Even [Tooele] county has made their point in the media that they are supporting the [new] management group, at least for this year. We’d love to see that as a multi-year relationship but certainly we’re committed to them for the month of August.”
Heading into this year, how important is it for the series to put some of the elements from last year behind?
“Every series is going to have good and bad years. When you go to the anniversary of those moments, all eyes will go on you remembering.
“We’ve seen that with the folks at IMSA. They had a pretty bad Daytona and Sebring two years ago. Now they just cleared that and had an absolutely fantastic Daytona and I’m sure they’ll do good at Sebring too.
“The memories of the bad experiences go away. That’s our job. We don’t look backwards at what happened and what would have been. You have to learn from your mistakes and that’s what we’ve tried to do, both Marcus and I.
“At the end of the day, our focus for 2016 is forward through the front windshield. And that’s where we’re running our race. And what can we do better?”