The Pirelli World Challenge GTS class will feature standalone SprintX races integrated into its full-season championship in 2018, officials from WC Vision have announced.
It comes following a Sprint-only format for the series this year, with optional SprintX participation alongside the GT class.
SprintX events for GT and GTS will now be separated, with five standalone 60-minute, two-driver format rounds.
The SprintX schedule will see events for both GT and GTS at Circuit of The Americas, Virginia International Raceway, Lime Rock Park, Portland International Raceway and Utah Motorsports Campus.
Four GTS Sprint rounds, meanwhile, will remain on the calendar at St. Petersburg, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Road America and Watkins Glen, with a GT-only standalone event at Long Beach.
“After talking with our teams and drivers about the success of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season we want to build on that in 2018,” said WC Vision President and CEO Greg Gill.
“We took a survey of all of our teams and felt it was important to make a few changes with the racing formats, weekend schedules and technical information.
“We’ll expand the SprintX format to GTS and shorten the racing weekends for logistic purposes.”
The GT and GTS classes will run to near-identical SprintX regulations, but with two exceptions.
Unlike GT SprintX which can feature all-pro lineups, GTS SprintX will be limited to Pro-Am and Am-Am driver pairings only.
Additionally, single-driver lineups will be allowed for GTS Am drivers, but they must comply with the mandatory pit stop.
GTS Teams Support SprintX Change
A number of current and new GTS teams have supported the change to the SprintX format, including series stalwarts GMG Racing.
“If last year’s growth of SprintX in GT is any indication, I truly believe the GTS SprintX class will be very successful as well, especially with the new GT4 cars coming out in 2018,” said team owner James Sofronas.
”There are still a few details to be worked out on driver classifications but in the long run, it opens up many avenues for competitors to split a budget or bring in a co-driver in the format.”
Ian Lacy Racing, meanwhile, has already firmed up an three-car Ginetta G55 GT4 program for next year that will see Drew Staveley, Frank Gannett and Steve Burns as full-season drivers.
“With the new specs in the latest Ginetta, we feel we can be competitive in both the GTS Sprint and SprintX events,” Ian Lacy said.
A pair of BMW TC entrants, meanwhile, will step up to GTS with the new BMW M4 GT4, including 2016 TC champion Toby Grahovec, who also supports the SprintX format.
“We look forward to the fierce competition and the strategies involved with pit stops and driver changes,” Grahovec said.
ST Racing team principal Kenneth Tan added: “Running SprintX was part of our plan, and we’re so happy with the Series’ final decision. We enjoy running in the PWC Series.”