A minimum pit stop time has been added to GT Pro-Pro class cars competing in this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge SprintX season-opening round at Virginia International Raceway, series officials confirmed Friday morning.
The all-pro GT3 entries will be required to spend at least 30 seconds in the pit box during the mandatory driver change, with the 60-second minimum remaining unchanged for Pro-Am and Am-Am driver pairings.
A number of drivers had raised significant safety concerns on the prospects of no minimum pit stop time, with the potential of drivers entering or leaving the pits with loose belts.
The change comes in the wake of the elimination of mandatory tire changes for Pro-Pro teams, which would have provided teams with sufficient time for a safe driver change.
“It was a safety decision,” PWC GT Series Manager Rob Morgan told Sportscar365. “We took away the tire change and we didn’t want it to become a race to do a driver change and have it be a safety issue. So that’s what we’re going to do for now.
“Let’s see how this all works. it’s new for everybody, the drivers, teams, us. We’re just trying to make sure we get the formula that works right at the right time.”
Drivers have largely supported the change for this weekend.
“I’m pretty happy with the 30-second rule,” RealTime Racing’s Ryan Eversley told Sportscar365. “I know we can do our pit stop faster than that and a lot of other guys can too.
“But the reality is that if one car pulls out of the pit lane with the belts loose because they’re trying to beat the other guy, and we have a stack up [in pit lane] like we saw at Petit Le Mans a few years ago, that could be really bad.
“The tire [change] would have kept everyone in the 30-second window. As soon as that went away, you couldn’t limit it on us as drivers by nature are competitive, so they’re going to take the risks pulling out of the pits with the belts loose or maybe not even on.
“I’m happy they did that. I know it probably affected some teams but now it makes it so much safer, which is really what we need to be focusing on.”
Porsche factory driver Patrick Long added: “I think it’s the right decision based on a lot of unknowns. Safety was the primary concern, with a busy pit lane, and from a competition standpoint, being very tough to police belts and other safety apparatus.
“This is the right end to start on, with nothing else regulating the pit stop time, such as multiple tire changes or fuel.”