SRO Motorsports America President and CEO Greg Gill says that Blancpain GT World Challenge America competitors had been expressing interest in having an endurance race be part of its full-season championship.
The 2020 schedule, released last weekend at Spa, will see the newly created Indianapolis 8 Hour Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli round integrated into GT World Challenge as its season finale.
GT World Challenge’s six other events will remain with the new-for-2019 extended sprint format of two 90-minute races each weekend.
Gill said making it as a points-paying round of the championship will finally give the extra incentive needed by North American teams to commit to the American IGTC round.
“One of the things that people have asked us for, and I would not say it’s the majority asking for this, but a good number of people have asked, ‘When can we do [an endurance race] as part of the championship?’” Gill told Sportscar365.
“They have problems coming to the [California] 8 Hour because it’s not a part of the championship.
“We want to get this information out now so the teams can plan for it, and at the same time, keep it to seven events because that’s working well.
“Obviously, we know that an eight-hour event is going to have a high amount of [running] time that people are going to have to budget for accordingly. Putting it at the end of the season, by putting it before Petit [Le Mans], it allows people to say what they want to do.”
Gill said discussions with Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been in the works for the last five years, on and off, although the global allure of the IGTC helped seal the deal for 2020.
The October date was also one of the “key contributors” to making a deal happen.
“I think one of the key contributors to it was that in my mind, it had always been a spring date,” Gill said. “That does not work for the speedway because they are occupied for the month of May.
“When we had the opportunity to start talking about this… it’s a very small family in motorsports, everybody knows everybody, so in a really quick conversation, it came together very smoothly.
“It was just a natural force to come together.”
While set to occur the week before the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, Gill believes the date will allow GT3 manufacturers to provide “in country” support to customers and teams on back-t0-back endurance weekends.
When combined with the full-season grids from GT World Challenge America and IGTC, Gill said he expects the race to be predominantly feature GT3 machinery, although there will be an invitational class, in a near-identical format to the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Pirelli GT4 America will also feature on the weekend, either with the Sprint or SprintX series, or potentially both, along with the new-for-2020 GT2 Sports Club America.