|Stephane Ratel and Greg Gill|
Coming off the most exciting racing campaign in the 26-year history of the Pirelli World Challenge, WC Vision today announced a variety of new elements to its 2016 series including the confirmed schedule, the alliance with SRO and live television showings.
In 2015, the sensational Pirelli World Challenge competition saw nine different auto manufacturers finishing in the final 11 point positions in the GT category as well as series manufacturer titles going to Porsche (GT), Ford (GTS), Mazda (TC) and Honda (TCA).
The 2015 series champions were Johnny O'Connell (GT), Frank Montecalvo (GTA), Colin Thompson (GT Cup), Michael Cooper (GTS), Corey Fergus (TC), Jason Wolfe (TCA) and Johan Schwartz (TCB).
In the annual "State of the Series" presentation at the SEMA Show, Pirelli World Challenge officials expounded on the previously released 2016 schedule with dates at the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, Utah on August 26-28 and the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., on Oct. 7-9.
The 2016 Pirelli World Challenge will be contested during 11 weekends beginning at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tex. on March 3-6 followed by street events at St. Petersburg, Fla., (March 11-13) and Long Beach, Calif. (April 15-17), Barber Motorsports Park (April 22-24); Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (May 19-22); Lime Rock Park (May 27-28); Road America (June 24-26); Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 29-31); Utah Motorsport Campus (August 26-28); Sonoma Raceway (Sept. 16-18) and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Oct. 7-9).
"We believe the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge was the greatest championship season in the series' 26 years and the 2016 season will be bigger and better," said Greg Gill, Pirelli World Challenge President and CEO. "Our confirmed schedule has some of our traditional dates as well as the addition of Lime Rock Park on its historic Memorial Weekend. Working with the Verizon IndyCar Series has been a tremendous relationship and we look forward to sharing six weekend events in 2016 along with our five PWC headliner weekends. The 2016 Pirelli World Challenge is shaping up to be another thrilling and competitive season. Competition Director Marcus Haselgrove and his team have been working tirelessly to stream line rules, and forms while enhancing the at-track experience for our competitors."
Haselgrove announced the following competition and technical changes for the 2016 season: GT/GTA and GT Cup races to begin with rolling starts, and the plan to integrate more GT4 homologated platforms like the Maserati GranTurismo and the KTM X-BOW in the GTS class. .
"We have streamlined the 2016 Rule Book, worked closely with teams and manufacturers since the checkered flag at Mazda Raceway in Mid-September and we will be adding to our competition and technical team in the coming weeks," noted Haselgrove.
Last March, Pirelli World Challenge officials announced the alliance with the SRO Motorsports Group and the highly-competitive Blancpain GT Series featuring GT3-based sports cars and the series' double header event set for the 2016 PWC season opener at Circuit of the Americas.
The alliance is today confirmed with the announcement of the first GT3-only endurance race in North America with a six-hour race at the Circuit of the Americas scheduled for March 5, 2016. Independent from the Blancpain GT Series in Europe, the race will be part of the planned Intercontinental Challenge, which will bring together the Liqui Moly 12 Hours of Bathurst in Australia, the Total 24 Hours of Spa in Europe and the 12 Hours of Sepang in Asia; all races where a GT3 class will be the overall winning class. The US round will also be open to GTS/GT4 cars.
The alliance will also see the two sports car racing series utilizing similar technical regulations including the SRO Balance of Performance equations and other selected particulars such as consultancy on Sport and Development.
"Working with Stephane Ratel and his SRO Motorsports Group has been outstanding," said Gill. "Since joining PWC Marcus Haselgrove has worked closely with SRO's technical department in an open forum with the GT3 regulations and we believe the collection of GT3 cars at the season opener at COTA could be one of the largest in sports car racing history. Fans will now see a global mixture of PWC and SRO GT teams and drivers racing together. It's a great way to kick off the 2016 season."
"Extending the SRO-monitored Balance of Performance to the Pirelli World Challenge, in addition to the many series and events which already adopted it around the globe will give manufacturers and teams the assurance of a professional and fair competition which is not based on the relative performance of teams and drivers in a particular series but solely on the cars' performance, measured across 40 circuits on four continents," said Ratel, President and CEO of the SRO Motorsports Group.
"The fact that most of the monitored Series and events run on the same Pirelli tire specification will add to the accuracy. Working with Greg Gill and his team on this and on other aspects of the Series is a great honor for SRO. We are looking forward to a 2016 season which should mark the beginning of an even closer collaboration."
In the address at the SEMA Show today, Pirelli World Challenge officials also confirmed the television package with CBS Sports Network that will include a live race broadcast for the 2016 season, as well as the expanded relationship with Motor Trend On Demand TV.
As in 2015, CBS Sports Network will telecast the remainder of the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge events on a taped-delay basis with 120, 90 and 60 minute presentations. Details on the CBS Sports Network viewing schedule will be announcement in the near future.
"Our relationship with CBS Sports Network last year was an excellent start and we are very pleased about the television schedule for 2016," said Gill. "They captured some of the best wheel-to-wheel sports car action in the world last season with tremendous in-car footage and superb camera angles. We look forward to more of the same in 2016."
In addition to the PWC announcements, the WC Vision Board of Directors removed the interim tag and named Greg Gill as President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. Additional series appointments will be announced in the near future.
2016 Pirelli World Challenge Schedule
|March 3-6||Circuit of the Americas *|
|March 11-13||Grand Prix of St. Petersburg **|
|April 15-17||Grand Prix of Long Beach **|
|April 22-24||Barber Motorsports Park **|
|May 19-22||Canadian Tire Motorsports Park *|
|May 27-28||Lime Rock Park *|
|June 23-26||Road America **|
|July 29-30||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course **|
|August 26-28||Utah Motorsport Campus *|
|September 16-18||Sonoma Raceway **|
|October 7-9||Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca *|
*Pirelli World Challenge Headliner Events
**With Verizon IndyCar Series Events