Belgian Audi Club Team WRT team principal Vincent Vosse is bullish on the future of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, saying he expects to see solid growth in the years to come.
A fixture in the Blancpain GT Series paddock, Vosse’s squad is making its U.S. debut this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the California 8 Hours, an event that he says he was determined to bring his team to as soon as the calendar was released.
“We always had the idea to do something in the U.S., but it’s not always easy,” he told Sportscar365. “For sure we have been everywhere, just not in the U.S.
“We had the opportunity to come and I think the Intercontinental GT Challenge, when you see the future, I think it’s a very good idea. The track, Laguna Seca, everyone dreams about it.
“I just put in my mind that this is something that we need to do and I put everything together to do it.”
Despite the fact that just 19 cars are set to take the green flag this weekend, Vosse said he was optimistic about the future of the event, noting it was a good start for a new race while also highlighting the logistical challenges presented by a globe-trotting championship.
“I think it will have a great future for sure,” he said of the race in Monterey. “Some of the people will say they are a bit disappointed with the number of cars, but it has to start somewhere and it’s not easy.
“We are not far from the end of the European season. When you see our car, it flew from Barcelona, the last race of the Blancpain Endurance series, to here.
“It’s not something that economically you can do very easily, so there are some challenges and a few things that need to be adjusted, but the idea is just great.”
Vosse said many of those same challenges apply to the IGTC as a whole, but he nevertheless predicted a strong future for the championship.
“Teams need to have something to do from October until April,” said Vosse. “Teams have to work. This winter season, Laguna Seca, Sepang, Bathurst, are very important for the future of the teams.
“I really believe that 2018, you have Suzuka on top of it, if you see the calendar of IGTC and you can imagine the ’19 could have another track which might be in Africa somewhere, probably in South Africa, I think you will have the best calendar.
“When you are talking about Bathurst, Spa, Suzuka, Laguna Seca, and maybe Kyalami? You couldn’t dream to have better tracks.
“You are doing a championship on five continents. I think it’s a real championship.
“If we are able to manage to have the right date for all those tracks, for sure Suzuka is kind of an issue because it will be in the middle of the European system, but if we can fix that I’m sure it has a great future.”
Vosse said WRT would evaluate future races in North America, suggesting that the most likely place for his team stateside would be in the SRO-affiliated Pirelli World Challenge series given his own longstanding presence in SRO championships elsewhere.
He said has an appreciation for North American racing, citing the racing venues on the continent as a big reason why competing in the United States is an attractive proposition.
“This weekend, I have not seen any track limits on the monitors!” said Vosse, himself a former driver. “The tracks are just the best race tracks. It’s not the paddock, it’s not the facilities, it’s just the track.
“Drivers have to stay between the two lines, they have exciting corners, they have a very safe car on a track which is a race track for race drivers. It’s not Paul Ricard which is a parking place.
“At the end, it’s what drivers want.”