A few weeks out from the start of the Pirelli World Challenge season, testing is intensifying for various teams before the March 3-6 weekend at Circuit of The Americas.
A series test took place at COTA Monday and Tuesday, with a mix of GT and GTS class teams present in Austin to get extra track time in before the season opener.
RealTime Racing with its updated Acura TLX-GTs, K-PAX Racing with its three McLaren 650S GT3s, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing’s new McLaren, the two Cadillac ATS-V.Rs, and the Mills Racing BMW Z4 GT3 were among those that tested in the GT class.
M1 Racing tested separately last week at the track with its new Audi R8 LMS, the first World Challenge team to publicly commit to the next generation Audi. The team also tested at NOLA Motorsports Park. Guy Cosmo, Larry Pegram and Walt Bowlin have been named as drivers for that team.
With the next round of Porsche 911 GT3 Rs in the process of being delivered, teams such as EFFORT Racing and GMG Racing are awaiting their arrivals.
Meanwhile the Calvert Dynamics with Phoenix Performance team received its new Porsche and tested this week at Sebring, with Andrew Davis in the 911 GT3 R and Preston Calvert in the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
The GTS grid is expected to fill out with a series of newer cars, including the Racers Edge Motorsports Sin R1 GT4s, the Mantella Autosport KTM X-BOWs and the Maserati GranTurismo MC which was announced last fall.
Maserati has announced JCR Motorsports, KPR Racing, RT Motorsports and Three Points Racing as teams that will run the new car. XSpeed will announce its program at a later date.
Blackdog Speed Shop is one of the few returning teams to have announced its plans for 2016, and was among those that tested at COTA.
GTSport Racing won’t be back, at least for the season-opening race weekend. Jack Baldwin announced his team will run his existing Porsche Cayman S at the SVRA Group 12 and the Stuttgart Cup competition of the America’s GT Cup series at Sebring, which takes place on the same weekend.
The GTSport team had been hoping to close a deal to run the new Maserati, but never finalized a program.
World Challenge is hoping for a grid of between 80 to 90 cars between all seven of its classes, GT, GTA, GT Cup, GTS, TC, TCA and TCB, once it releases the entry list for COTA.