A new era of North American GT racing dawns this weekend at Circuit of The Americas with the debut of the new-look SRO Motorsports America organization, formerly known as Pirelli World Challenge.
Sportscar365 provides an overview of the changes made, both in branding and from a sporting perspective, since last year.
Following SRO Motorsports Group’s majority acquisition of WC Vision, announced last May, the organization has now become known as SRO Motorsports America.
WC Vision President and CEO Greg Gill has remained in the leadership role of the North American-based series, led by a relatively unchanged management staff for the 2019 season.
Gill reports directly to SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel, regarded as the architect of modern-day GT racing.
Staci Langham has been promoted to Blancpain GT World Challenge America series manager, with Jack Baldwin and Jim Jordan remaining in charge of the Pirelli GT4 America and TC America series, respectively.
Blancpain GT World Challenge
The former Pirelli World Challenge GT class is now known as Blancpain GT World Challenge America, as part of a global restructuring of SRO’s GT3-based sprint series all under the ‘World Challenge’ moniker.
After split Sprint and SprintX formats in recent years, Blancpain GT America has switched exclusively to 90-minute extended sprint race formats, along with the introduction of full-service pit stops and live refueling. Two-driver lineups are now also mandatory.
The series features a 14-round season, with two races on each of the seven race weekends.
A total of four GT3 classes are eligible (Pro, Pro-Am, Silver and Am) although there are currently no Silver Cup entries.
Pirelli GT4 America
Previously known as Pirelli World Challenge GTS, the newly named Pirelli GT4 America series features four different championships for SRO-homologated GT4 machinery.
GT4 America Sprint and GT4 America SprintX are the two nationwide series, each run over eight weekends, with GT4 America East and GT4 America West introduced as regional series with five events (ten races) apiece.
The SprintX and East/West championships feature 60-minute two-driver races with a mandatory pit stop, with Sprint maintaining the series’ traditional 50-minute single-driver format.
COTA marks the kickoff of the SprintX, East and West series, which will all run concurrently in the same races but receive seperate classifications and points.
The Sprint series, meanwhile, will begin next weekend at St. Pete and run on six of the same weekends as SprintX, but in seperate races.
The former Pirelli World Challenge TCR, TC and TCA classes now fall under the TC America umbrella, with no major format changes.
A pair of 40-minute, single-driver races will be held over seven weekends (eight for TCR), with TC/TCA cars set for an invitational event at St. Pete alongside a points-paying round for TCR.
The TCR series, meanwhile, has introduced a TCR Cup for 2019 for eligible Audi RS 3 LMS and Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR cars with DSG gearboxes.