Despite not appearing on the initial schedule release, Long Beach could be added to the GTS Pirelli World Challenge season, according to WC Vision President and CEO Greg Gill.
Calendars for the restructured GT, GTS and new-for-2019 GT4 Americas East and West series were released last weekend by new majority owner SRO Motorsports Group, featuring several changes and to-be-announced dates.
While the series will not return to Lime Rock Park or Utah Motorsports Campus, with St. Petersburg reverting to a GTS and GT4 Americas East-only event, Gill indicated that Long Beach could still make a return for 2019.
It’s understood the April 12-14 event is being proposed to GTS teams as a possible ninth round.
“We very much would like to see if there’s a possibility to get there,” Gill told Sportscar365. “It’s going to be based on the response of the teams.”
Gill said dialogue began shortly after its ‘State of the Series’ meeting earlier this month at Portland International Raceway, when WC Vision unveiled its revised class structures and race formats.
With the 90-minute GT races ruled out for Long Beach, Gill said the “most likely” option for a return would be with GTS, which moves back exclusively to a traditional 50-minute, single-driver format next year.
An option remains open with the Long Beach promoter for a PWC race, although Gill indicated that a decision would need to be made in the coming weeks.
“Right now we’re scheduled for eight [GTS races],” Gill said. “GTS traditionally has nine rounds. That’s what we’d be looking at. But it’s subject to what the paddock wants.
“One of the things we’ve really learned since becoming more fully integrated into the SRO is listening to our customers.”
Headline GT Races a “Function of the Growth” of PWC
Gill said the move away from IndyCar support races for GT3 machinery to a fully standalone calendar for GT Pirelli World Challenge is a “function of the growth” of the series.
The GT championship will feature headline races at all seven events next year under the new format of two 90-minute races per weekend. Six hours of total track time will be available to competitors.
“As much as we love going to St. Petersburg and other IndyCar races on street circuits, our GT3 customers did not want their cars to run [there],” Gill said.
“It’s been greater carnage every year and it’s just too expensive for them.
“The gentlemen drivers particularly want the traditional tracks and ability to enjoy a whole experience.
“The challenge was picking arguably what we think are seven of the best road courses that are in America. That’s a matter of taste for people but we’re excited about it and very pleased with the final solution.”
‘Grand Finale’ Being Finalized
The season-ending ‘Grand Finale’ weekend for GT, GTS and GT4 West, meanwhile, is still being finalized, according to Gill, who acknowledged that Las Vegas Motor Speedway is among the venues they’re currently in discussions with.
“Las Vegas is certainly one of the venues we’re speaking to about a finale,” he said. “But until something is situated and done, we can’t comment further.”
Gill said he hopes to finalize the complete schedule over the next few weeks, with the target of presenting the finalized calendar during the season-ending round at Watkins Glen in September.
“I’ve got to speak to the venues and see what works for them,” he said.
“We are also waiting on the [date for the] California 8 Hours and I’m hoping at the same time window, within the next few weeks, we are able to release our [official] schedule.
“[It would be] the earliest point our calendar has ever been released in totality without TBA and TBDs.”