Sportscar365 caught up with Pirelli World Challenge Director of Competition, Marcus Haselgrove, to discuss a wide range of topics in the build up to the 2016 season. Below is the Q&A:
How would you rate the 2015 season?
“I won’t deny that we could have had a few better starts. But as far as the growth in all of the classes, and the grids and the variety of the cars, that’s been a big plus to the series.
“You’ve seen the last two or three years where it’s gone from a couple of manufacturers to five or six to, in the case of GT3 this year, to ten or eleven.
“There’s been growth in GTS as well. We added Lotus, Hyundai, Chevy ran a high OEM content Z.28 and we had more vehicles come along like the Maserati and there’s obviously talk of more customers already, which is exciting. we are very pleased with the progress.”
What’s your take on the arrival of the new “kit cars” such as the KTM X-Bow and SIN R1 for GTS?
“They’re coming and we will work to balance them in the class. They’ve made applications, they’ve requested to join us. Based on what’s happened with the Lotus and the Maserati, people can look at us, but I don’t think we got it wrong.
“These cars turned up and there were comments that they’d just drive away. The Aston Martin [for instance], was always a GT4 car and it was modified to fit in our series and IMSA. When this car turned up, it wasn’t a car from a completely different class. They just had a few advantages in some areas and a few disadvantages in others.
“An area we work hard is the transparency of performance envelopes with the manufacturers of their vehicles and they deserve credit also for the way they work with us and their customers.”
Are you anticipating a lot of new GT3 cars in the series next year?
“The only two announcements we’ve has publicly has been from EFFORT and GMG. It’s the silly season. People are looking at different options and what’s a better deal. I think as you get closer to PRI, you’ll see some announcements. But we are very happy.
“The most important thing is when you’re this far from the start of the season, and people have already made commitments secured budgets to either myself or Greg [Gill, Interim CEO], this early on, that’s a good thing.”
Where do you expect the car counts in GT to be next year?
“I would say it’s about to stay the same. I think a couple of events will go up a couple of cars and couple of events may go down a couple of cars.
“Truthfully, we keep growing. It would be nice to have 100 cars on the grid but the FIA only allows you 25 per mile.
“And I think when you come to the paddock. we are literally running out of paddock space, at more than one event we share and the only way to increase is reduce the amount of paddock space a team could have, but is this what the teams and fans want.”
Does GT Cup by MOMO remain Porsche-only next year?
“The GT Cup remains [exclusively] with the Porsches. They’re very excited. We’ve had a mixture of future GT3 drivers such as Colin [Thompson], Sloan [Urry] and Alec [Udell] and also a compliment of certain GTA drivers that have bought Porsche Cup cars. It’s been a good first year for these guys and it puts them right on the grid of GT3.”
Standing starts was one of the hot topics this year. Will it continue in 2016?
“The standing start/rolling start is up for discussion. I’m hoping by SEMA that we can make a formal announcement. But there’s a lot of input from team owners, manufacturers, internally, and even talking with other sanctioning bodies.”
Yourself and Greg Gill made a visit to Misano earlier this month for the Blancpain Sprint Series round. What did you learn?
“The great part of going to Misano was that we got to talk about what we saw with BoP in GT3 and what they saw with GT3.
“We also talked to some of the GT4 manufacturers, watched a GT4 race, and looked at some of the people that want to bring their cars to the U.S., manufacturers, and also talked to Stephane [Ratel] and Claude [Surmont, SRO Technical Director] on the interactions of what they see.
“That was exciting for us to go and share, openly, what we see and what they see.
“Moving forward, I’ve suggested the FIA gets the larger sanctioning bodies around the world with GT3 cars and has a discussion with us a couple of times a year. Because we’re the ones ultimately racing all the cars.
“You have a FIA Ladoux tests, but you also have 100-plus of these cars racing around the world in different series. We all sometimes see things and this type of combined feedback would help reinforce the GT3 platform for future years.”