Pirelli World Challenge could extend the length of its sprint races for next year, while also adding refueling and tire changes to the potential adjusted format, according to WC Vision President and CEO Greg GilI.
Gill confirmed that a number of different options are on the table for both the Sprint and SprintX series, with a general direction to be defined by the end of July.
He stressed that competitor feedback will shape the championship’s future.
“Do you go to 90 minutes? Do you do 75 [minutes]? These questions have been floating around. We haven’t answered that,” Gill told Sportscar365.
“Our goal is to do what’s in the best interest of our customers. Fans want to consume something quickly, we know that. It’s easy to say PWC is sprint, so I want to be very careful and thoughtful about that.”
Last weekend’s SprintX season opener at Virginia International Raceway saw pit stops without tire changes, in a reversal of the initial plan following a nearly unanimous vote from GT Pro-Pro class teams in a meeting at Long Beach last month.
While Gill, as well as SRO Motorsports Group CEO Stephane Ratel, have publicly backed the introduction of tire changes, the PWC boss hasn’t ruled out adopting the formula in the future, should there be a sufficient level of paddock support.
Ratel pointed out that it took four years for the FIA GT3 European Championship to adopt tire changes, with nearly all of the SRO-run series now utilizing it in different formats.
“We’ve seen the success of it in Europe and Asia and I believe it will be successful here,” Gill said. “But we also have to look at the privateer teams who have cost issues and concerns.
“Let’s get through this weekend, see how it goes, and if they want to address that, we’ll certainly be open to it.
“What’s really good about this somewhat-compressed three races in a row for SprintX is that we’re going to really have a good feeling for the first half of the year on whether this is working.”
Should races be lengthened beyond the existing 50-minute format for Sprint and 60 minutes for SprintX, they would likely need to add a refueling element to the series, and Gill said they’re evaluating different cost-effective ways of accomplishing that.
A newly added line in the PWC sporting regulations states that regulations for refueling for 2018 will be defined by July 31, which would give teams enough time to ramp up with the necessary equipment.
“We’re a sprint race series so suddenly adding refueling rigs and all of that just flies in the face of what we’ve done,” Gill said.
“So we want to be very careful about that and make sure that if there’s some kind of ‘splash’ concept available, it’s well thought out and pit safety issues are addressed before we’d consider that.”
The July 31 deadline to define the refueling regulations falls in line with PWC’s annual stakeholder’s meeting at Mid-Ohio, where a preliminary schedule is also usually released.
Gill stressed that despite its exploration into new areas, they are not currently looking at introducing endurance races, outside of the SRO-run California 8 Hour Intercontinental GT Challenge race this October.
“We have a good formula that’s worked for many years,” he said. “SprintX was a change for people and it was a big change.
“So let’s get through this and evaluate what’s in the best interest for sprint racing.”