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PWC Targeting Steady Growth for SprintX

PWC planning steady growth for new SprintX Championship…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Pirelli World Challenge President and CEO Greg Gill is expecting steady growth for the SprintX Championship, which will debut this year as an initial three-round season on existing PWC headline event weekends.

The races, which will be one hour in length and feature two drivers per car and mandatory pit stops, mirrors the format seen in the Blancpain Sprint Cup, except for the addition of GTS and single-make Cup cars joining the flagship FIA GT3-spec machinery.

Gill expects a modest grid for the season-opening round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on May 20-22, with additional cars poised to join the series in the two other events at Utah Motorsport Campus and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca later in the year.

“We’ll be in the low-teens at the lowest side, and maybe as high as 18 or 19,” Gill told Sportscar365. “I think it’s going to be a nice, good field to give people a chance to try it.

“The only reason I can’t say there will be 24 cars on the grid is because it is going North of the Border. For some teams, they just don’t want to deal with that.”

While announced last May under the former President/CEO Scott Bove, Gill admitted he wasn’t an initial fan of the SprintX concept, until receiving positive feedback from competitors later in the year.

“My initial thought was just to absolutely kill it,” Gill said. “I thought it was an idea that had been constructed as sort of a knee-jerk reaction. I was not comfortable with it.

“But our customers, when we sat down in September, they made it clear to us that they purchased cars, they wanted to participate in it. As we’ve pursued it as a series, we’ve seen more and more entry interest in it.”

A handful of GT teams have already committed to the championship, including M1 GT Racing and Mills Racing, which plans to enter its Audi R8 LMS and BMW Z4 GT3 cars, respectively, while a handful of high-profile teams are understood to be evaluating it as well.

Gill said roughly half of the prospective SprintX entrants are currently not competing in PWC.

“That’s what makes me excited about the class,” he said. “I think it gives a team owner a way to offset costs.

“We’re very clear that we’re not in the endurance racing business; we’re in the sprint business. So it gives people a taste, if they like that, then they can consider other options for the future in endurance classes.

“Or they can answer the situation of splitting [the budget] between two drivers. We’ve created that opportunity for them. For us, that’s a win on two fronts and we’re excited about that.”

Gill said SprintX could be expanded into a five-round championship in 2017, should this year’s pilot season be considered a success.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. anywho

    February 25, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    I feel like that picture has a lot of HDR

    • tracer

      February 25, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      Agree with ya on that… Could stand to drop the HDR effect level by a good 50% or more.

  2. Bakkster

    February 25, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I still don’t understand Sprint-X, given the “This Is How Racing Should Be” branding up top always used to refer to how pit stops were boring…

    • N8

      February 25, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      I didn’t understand Sprint-X from a fan perspective. Blancpain Sprint is mind-numbing. I think I’ve got a better grasp on PWC’s version of it after reading this though. Seems like it will allow teams to offer rides to paying drivers at half the cost GT-Am. Maybe it’s a bridge between top class SCCA programs and PWC for teams and drivers in the same way that you see teams move up from Super Trofeo to GTD in IMSA?

      • Bakkster

        February 25, 2016 at 5:29 pm

        I fully understand it from the financial perspective, and it’s a format that works great for SRO. I just found it funny that it completely violated the PWC brand of ‘pit stops are for chumps’.

  3. Matt

    February 25, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Sprint X is a pretty stupid idea. The market is already so saturated. Every series in the world races the same cars now. Pirelli Challenge should stick with what has made it successful.

    • NaBUru38

      February 25, 2016 at 10:33 pm

      If it’s stupid and competitors like it, it’s not stupid.

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