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PWC Confirms 90-Minute GT Races; GT4 America for 2019

90-minute races for GT cars, new GT4 America regional series for PWC in 2019…

Photo: Brian Cleary/PWC

Pirelli World Challenge GT races will be extended to 90 minutes in length, along with the launch of regional GT4 championships next year, series officials have revealed.

The changes, announced during a stakeholders meeting at Portland International Raceway Saturday evening, come in the wake of SRO Motorsports Group’s majority buyout of the series.

Following two years of a dual SprintX and Sprint formats, the GT series will align under a single 90-minute race format for all of its rounds next year.

The refocused seven-race schedule will consist solely of GT3 machinery with two-driver lineups, culminating with a new, yet-to-be-announced season finale event.

GTS, meanwhile, will return to 50-minute single-driver races, largely on GT race weekends, as seen prior to its adoption of the split Sprint and SprintX format this year.

Despite initial plans to prohibit pro drivers, Gold-rated drivers will continue to be permitted, alongside Silver and Bronzes, which will be awarded separate podiums.

Like the GT series, GTS will see a reduced schedule, but of eight events, with the two series utilizing a more economical weekend format that will be aimed to reduce travel costs.

GT4 America Launched

WC Vision, meanwhile, will launch two new regional series, GT4 America East and GT4 America West next year, capitalizing on the success of the growing global platform.

It will run to current SprintX rules, consisting of two 60-minute races featuring two-driver lineups, although restricted to Pro-Am (Silver/Bronze) and Am (Bronze-Bronze) pairings only.

Titles will be awarded separately per region, with no overall championship available.

Both GT4 East and West will feature five events, with PWC’s successful TC categories expanding into seven weekends next year, including a greater focus on TCR.

Schedules for all PWC series will be announced during the SRO’s annual presentation during the Total 24 Hours of Spa later this month.

“This is an exciting time for the Pirelli World Challenge as it becomes more closely integrated with the global SRO Motorsports Group platform,” said SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel.

“I believe that what we presented today reflects the wishes of our drivers and teams, while also retaining the fundamental values that have made the series popular with fans across America.

“By delivering on the feedback that we received and using our own experience, I am confident that we will see the Pirelli World Challenge grow even stronger in the years to come.”

Gill: Changes Honor PWC Heritage

WC Vision President and CEO Greg Gill believes the changes made honor the heritage of PWC, following extensive competitor feedback.

Teams were surveyed on potential changes for 2019 during the Lime Rock Park weekend in May, with the feedback playing a key role in the series’ evolution. 

“Heading into our 30th year, we have listened to the teams’ feedback on the classes of racing they wanted and the venues where they wish to compete,” Gill said.

“We will honor our Pirelli World Challenge heritage with single-driver sprint events in the GTS class while attempting to grow the GT3 category at the forefront of American motorsports.

“We will also expand the GT4 format to regional East and West categories, which I am certain will attract more local drivers to become part of the Pirelli World Challenge family.”

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

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Pay Driver

    July 15, 2018 at 1:56 am

    I’m guessing they’ll dump the three IndyCar companion events so they can race in front of dozens of paying fans like they are in Portland this weekend. Looks like I’ll finally have zero PWC events to attend in the Southeast anymore, but I guess it’s not much of a loss seeing how they’ve shot themselves in the foot as badly as NASCAR has.

    • DEJ

      July 15, 2018 at 9:55 am

      WOW ! This series gets more mixed up.Almost starting to look like a SCCA event. East,West series .This is just foolish.I wonder what competitors they conferred with. Looks like this will be a year I will skip again. I didn’t`t attend or watch this series tis year. Could not stand the SPRINT X.

      • nasportscar

        July 15, 2018 at 4:18 pm

        They took a series wide survey and got really great response rates from teams are drivers.

    • Kingsnake

      July 15, 2018 at 10:38 am

      No kidding. If the camera had held still, I could have counted the fans in Portland, especially in the stands along the front stretch.

      • DEJ

        July 15, 2018 at 11:22 am

        Yes ,not a track that favors fans.I was there many times in the 70`s as a crew member.

        • Kingsnake

          July 15, 2018 at 4:10 pm

          True. For a small track, getting from one part of the track to another, for a fan, very difficult. Mid-Ohio, being similar in size, much easier, with multiple bridges from infield to outfield.

      • NaBUru38

        July 15, 2018 at 8:50 pm

        PWC is certainly not interested in attracting fans. Their customers are teams and drivers.

      • RobetM525

        July 16, 2018 at 3:20 am

        I was at PIR this weekend. Attendance was okay but nothing like the ALMS races I used to go to at Laguna Seca in the early-/mid-2000s. As this was my first race at PIR, though, I don’t really know what to expect.

        The biggest problem? The weather. Portland gets, on average, 12 days over 90°F a year. But this weekend it was 94° yesterday and 100° today. PIR has next to no shade, so it’s not great conditions for watching a race.

        My daughter, my dad, and me had a good time, though.

        • Jay

          July 16, 2018 at 10:24 am

          Agreed – first time at PIR and first for PWC. I thought the attendance was actually decent, not as much as IMSA but not bad. Shade, amenities, and track viewing access are PIR’s downfall. Need a couple more bridges to get over to the West and North sides of the track.

  2. Fernando

    July 15, 2018 at 2:47 am

    Drivers up to Gold status? So we can’t have drivers like Dalziel, Parente, Christensen? Awesome! Lower the driver quality. I’m definitely done!l with PWC.

    • Lewis

      July 15, 2018 at 3:09 am

      No platinums allowed in GTS not in the main GT3 class.

  3. Gaucherie

    July 15, 2018 at 2:54 am

    “Hey, PWC has way too many classes, sub-classes and categories so no one has any idea what’s going on at any given moment. I KNOW! LET’S ADD MORE!”

  4. Bill branagh

    July 15, 2018 at 3:09 am

    The US tax codes are easier to decipher than the PWC.

  5. Doug

    July 15, 2018 at 3:18 am

    Hahahahahaha I literally burst out laughing once I reached “GT4 East/West”. This is like one of those April Fool’s articles that Marshall Pruett writes. Just when you think PWC can’t get any worse… Silver/Bronze being ranked as Pro/Am for the regional series?? What??? Silver is an Am class; are all of these rich guys so insecure that they need seperate classes for every single instance? Honestly, a class for guys making $1-10M a year, and another class for guys making $10M+ would be more appropiate at this point.
    It’s past time PWC stops asking the teams for their opinions. These teams won’t show up next year once there’re 5 cars on each entry list and a dozen fans at the events. Stephane Ratel clearly did 0 research on the American market before making these changes. Is anybody else a bit angry that this once great sports car series is being run into the ground?

  6. Matt

    July 15, 2018 at 4:31 am

    So 7 PWC and 3 SX races for GT3?
    Is that how it works for next year?

    • nasportscar

      July 15, 2018 at 8:53 am

      7 GT3 events next season

  7. JeffB

    July 15, 2018 at 8:42 am

    I certainly hope they just don’t lop off of companion Indy Car races. If the schedule will be down to 7 events, you wouldn’t want to stop racing at Long Beach and Road America and the number of eyeballs those events deliver to the series.

  8. Nick1

    July 15, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Thank you for finally getting rid of GT Cup. Also, PWC should race at Indianapolis during May or the Brickyard 400 weekend, just for the boosted exposure

  9. Bert

    July 15, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    I sure hope they dont drop the ctmp event of there schedule for 2019 it is one the the greatestbtracks in all of north america and the canadian fans have supported this series over the years but if thesy only bring a grid of ten gt3 carsfor the event why bother also please bring back thr touring class.

  10. daedalus

    July 15, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Considering its the participants that pay the bills I think its a good move in order to reduce costs which should bump up the numbers. Having one 90 mid race instead of two 60 mins will save a set of tires and reducing the total number of races should make things more viable for teams that are tight on money with reduced travel and lodging expences.

    PWC is run for the teams and drivers first and foremost so fans will have to except the changes, but it does start to compete with IMSA GTD more with the longer form races. Would not be surprised if some GTD teams switch to PWC next year due to lower costs.

    • Andy

      July 15, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      Complete and utter misunderstanding of what multiple teams running GTD have said keeps them in business. Selling LESS track time does not help them. More condensed time at the track does but less track time means fewer drivers buying rides. They have consistently said fewer days at the track with their time used better sells the ride. And then selling the enduros funds the year for the race team. I doubt you’d see a single team leave from GTD to the shitshow that is PWC. Try to convince a driver to fund a team when the racing is terrible, the pro drivers are HORRIBLE, the officials let demo derbies break out and it airs 5 weeks later on a network that’s still hard to find. And now likely without other decent track activity to sell the weekend to the bosses.

      Nevermind the utter stupidity that is East and West GT4. There aren’t enough teams or tracks to make that work. Seems like it’s ALL Ratel’s ideas and zero input from WC teams. Just cause they sent out a survey doesn’t mean they listened to ANYTHING said in the replies

      • daedalus

        July 16, 2018 at 7:48 am

        “They have consistently said fewer days at the track with their time used better sells the ride”

        hence the move to one longer race instead of 2 shorter ones means they can run a two day weekend instead of the 3 or four day weekend they have now.

        “the pro drivers are HORRIBLE”

        So le mans winner and FIA GT Champion, Toni Vilander, Alvaro Parente, Ryan
        Dalziel,Wolf Henzler,Maxime SOULET and Michael CHRISTENSEN are all HORRIBLE in your books, you clearly have no idea what you are talking about if you think these world class current and former factory drivers are “HORRIBLE”.

  11. MikeK

    July 16, 2018 at 5:14 am

    Every East/West series since the 80’s has failed in the US. Most last 2 years and ends up becoming a shared weekend with someone like PCA or BMWCCA. So it shows that this decision was not made in the US or asking the teams.

  12. SB

    July 16, 2018 at 10:57 am

    Long ago, this series was a hoot. It had its own stars (like Michael Galatti) and great wheel-banging road-car relevant action. This is just a Euro track day adventure. The value proposition has dropped every year for the fans, and the standalone event at Laguna last year lacked “big event” feel and was not exciting. The class system is absurdly complex. SRO makes money either way, but I think I’m done. Nice work, SCCA.

    • Rus'L

      July 16, 2018 at 11:12 am

      SCCA has nothing to do with this.

      • SB

        July 16, 2018 at 2:17 pm

        Actually, it has everything to do with it. SCCA sold SRO a majority interest and the series changed direction to something else.

        • SB

          July 16, 2018 at 6:16 pm

          I should clarify: SCCA Pro Racing entered into an arrangement to essentially license the series to WCV, which Ratel bought into.

          • Rus'L

            July 17, 2018 at 4:19 pm

            You’re still wrong. The SCCA hasn’t sanctioned or has had anything to do with the PWC since 2016, before the SRO got involved. USAC sanctions PWC.

            All these current decisions were made by Gill.

            So, I repeat. SCCA has nothing to do with this.

          • Rus'L

            July 17, 2018 at 4:21 pm

            Let me rephrase that.

            You’re saying that because the SCCA sold off their interest in PWC, they are to blame for what’s happening?

            Well, that’s still foolish. That’s like saying if you sold your house to someone else, and they turned it into a sh*thole, you are to blame and your former neighbors have the right to hate you for it.

            I don’t think so.

  13. Av

    July 16, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    When this series was “hot” that’s when they should have made the races at least 90 Mins. I am not going to go a whole weekend to the race track to watch a 50 mins race. Even if the do two races per weekend. It does not make any sense. To get excited about the amazing grid that they had to watch them race no more than an hour. Now they have to come from behind. That’s my opinion. 90 mins I might be interested to watch from my phone.

    • Rus'L

      July 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      I believe they are doing two 90-minute races each weekend. At least that’s the way I read it on the PWC website. And with multiple classes and all, you are still going to see 6-8 races on most weekends along with possibly some support events.

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