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.”