WC Vision President and CEO Greg Gill believes the GT4 Americas East and West series will serve as a stepping stone for drivers looking to enter the Pirelli World Challenge GTS and GT ranks in the future.
The new-for-2019 regional series, which were confirmed last month, is set to feature two 60-minute races in a SprintX-style two-driver format over five race events, mostly on PWC weekends.
While running separately to GTS Pirelli World Challenge, which reverts to single-driver 50-minute races next year, Gill feels the regional format will open the door for an aspiring new breed of drivers.
“Most of the drivers that are involved in a regional-type series do it because it fits their lifestyle,” Gill told Sportscar365.
“They usually have a very busy work lifestyle and can’t leave on a Wednesday for a five-day event.
“It doesn’t work for them. They need to travel out Thursday night or early Friday morning and get to the track and enjoy things and be home Sunday night.”
Gill feels the condensed two-day event format of GT4 Americas, with races typically within a two-hour flight from either New York (East) or Los Angeles (West), provides a more compelling fit for gentlemen drivers.
“It also allows them to try the Pirelli World Challenge and get the experience,” he said.
“With the exception of one potential weekend, GT4 Americas will be running on the same weekend as the GTS races or a GT3 headliner.
“Now they can really look at what Pirelli World Challenge is all about and maybe in a season or two move up the ranks, or just stay there with their driver coach or bring someone [in] to help with funding.”
Gill said that the weekend schedules will also allow GT4 Americas teams and drivers to contest the GTS races with the same cars, which would result in additional track time.
The GT4 East season will kick off at St. Pete alongside the GTS series, with the first combined GT4 West/GTS weekend likely to be at Sonoma Raceway in June.
“We’re going to look at the weekend schedule [to make that possible],” Gill said.
“We did experience that a few years ago but back when we did it [in SprintX], we only had a few takers. Next year, it will be interesting to see how many people cross over.
“I think it will be more likely that sometime in the year, a GT4 Americas customer will look at the schedule and say, ‘You know, I’d like to try the sprint format.’ I don’t think they’ll do it five times and rather try it once and twice.
“I think for the companies developing the drivers and the experience, it will really help them.
“Now they don’t have to take the drivers out to another track day or experience. They’ll be able to put them in easily.”