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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Wright: Cost Concerns Over Indy 8H World Challenge Round

Costs of extra personnel, parts a concern for World Challenge America teams at Indy…

Photo: Peter Burke/IMSA

Adding the Blancpain GT World Challenge America series to the Indianapolis 8 Hours field would likely increase costs for full-season teams, according to one team principal.

John Wright, whose Wright Motorsports squad has two full-season cars entered in the current World Challenge America season, told Sportscar365 that the new longer round will offer a “different flavor of racing”.

However, he suggested that adding an endurance element to the formerly sprint-only championship will require teams to spend more on extra personnel and equipment.

The Indianapolis 8 Hours will close the 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season, having replaced the California 8 Hours on the five-round global schedule.

Teams taking part in the full World Challenge America season will be required to take part in the Indianapolis race, which counts for double points.

“The initial thoughts about that [race] are the increases in budgets on the series,” Wright told Sportscar365.

“What is attractive about that series [World Challenge America] is that you can take a GT3 car racing on a relatively inexpensive budget.

“Having the eight-hour race and bringing the IGTC to America is very interesting. It’s a different flavor of racing and it’s nice to go out and test new skills against other people in the world.

“I’m just not quite convinced that it should be a part of the SRO World Challenge [America].

“My idea of World Challenge is what World Challenge used to be: sprint racing GT3 cars. It was the only product in the world like that.”

Wright suggested that the series’ minimum pit stop time rule has pushed teams to spend more to perfect the system, and that this spending could be exacerbated by adding an endurance race.

However, he felt the stringent regulations also helped Wright during its recent IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship cameos at Lime Rock Park and Road America.

“Adding the pit stop element to it definitely changed the weekend up quite a bit, with additional personnel and equipment,” he said.

“That’s been a positive in some ways because of the hustle you have to have there. But when it gets longer than 90 minutes, I just start wondering whether it’s a good idea.

“The eight-hour race is an expensive race to run. It was at Laguna [Seca]. When Grand-Am and IMSA combined, that’s when the budgets went really crazy because it added two more endurance races to the season.

“It’s a great sport, but it just costs a lot of money and the more track time you have, the more expensive it is.”

Wright Weighing Up 2020 GT3 Options

The Ohio-based team is looking at both IMSA and World Challenge America campaigns with the Porsche 911 GT3 Rs next year.

“Everything is up in the air – this is the time of year when you want to really focus on what you’re doing next year, and you want to jump on it so you can be prepared,” said Wright.

“[Lime Rock and Road America] have given [Silver-rated driver] Anthony Imperato a really good experience running in IMSA. That’s his ultimate goal.

“We picked a race that was GT-only for him to get his first experience of IMSA, and then this weekend [Road America] is with prototypes, so he gets to experience that.”

When asked about the chances of a full-season IMSA GTD program, Wright said that option is “likely”, but he also wouldn’t rule out a return to World Challenge America.

“It’s likely, in the right respects, or he [Imperato] could decide to do SRO racing again,” he said.

“For Anthony, he just likes being in a race car, so we’re looking forward to whatever opportunities present themselves and we’ll see where it goes.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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