SRO Motorsports Group has announced plans for a new ‘World Challenge’ title for GT3 manufacturers across its three continental series, aimed to reward the success of global customer racing.
Unveiled during Friday’s annual press conference at Spa-Francorchamps, the new title, which takes its name from the SRO’s recent majority acquisition of Pirelli World Challenge, will incorporate results from the Blancpain GT Series, Blancpain GT Series Asia, Pirelli World Challenge America and British GT Championship.
Details of the title, reserved exclusively for GT3 manufacturers, will be announced during the Blancpain GT Series season finale at Barcelona in September.
“The idea is to have these valued series, to collect points and give a trophy to the manufacturer at the end,” said SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel.
“When we acquired the Pirelli World Challenge, we acquired the World Challenge trademark.
“We now have to work on it but the idea is to make a global challenge for customer racing competition. Not like the factory drivers, but that needs much more development.
“It’s like Greg [Gill, PWC President and CEO] said, we’re going to put the ‘World’ into World Challenge.”
Ratel said World Challenge will not include results from Intercontinental GT Challenge, which expands into a five-round championship next year, as the new title is focused strictly on customer racing.
PWC Name to Remain Despite New Title
Ratel indicated there are no immediate plans to rename the U.S.-based Pirelli World Challenge despite the similar names, although would not completely rule it out in the future.
“We will see as things evolve with time,” he told Sportscar365. “The World Challenge is a title for manufacturers. They can advertise on it, maybe one day…
“World Challenge America is World Challenge America.”
The Frenchman explained his first interaction with PWC staff, which ironically came through a legal dispute over the use of the World Challenge name, which Ratel had used for the Baku World Challenge in 2013.
“That’s how we met,” he said. “It was the typical American way. I was in Baku and I got a [message] from a lawyer in America saying, ‘We own [the name] World Challenge. You can’t use it.’ I was like, ‘ooh la la’.
“In the end I talked to the CEO at the time, Scott Bove. In trying to solve a problem, we ended up owning the series.”