INSIGHT: The state of Pirelli World Challenge
December 9, 2016
The leadership of Pirelli World Challenge presented its annual state of the sport conference to teams, sponsors and manufacturers at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis on Friday. Key among the information presented was a new partnership with USAC for sanctioning and the inclusion of the Global MX-5 Cup car in the TCA category.
"USAC offered something that was important to us, which was an online registration system, digital registration," said WC Vision President and CEO Greg Gill. "We've been looking at that for a couple of years, and that was the attraction for working with them. We've had a decades-plus relationship with Sports Car Club of America, an extremely positive one, and we anticipate continuing a marketing relationship with them, with Track Night in America, etc. We're working out details with them now on what our long-term relationship will look like."
World Challenge was created by SCCA Pro Racing 27 years ago but in 2008, the commercial rights to the series were acquired by WC Vision, with SCCA Pro Racing continuing to provide sanctioning.
Another item of note was that the ND Miata-based Global MX-5 Cup car that forms the basis for the Battery Tender MX-5 Cup would be allowed in the TCA category. The ranks of that class swelled in 2016 with NC MX-5 Cup cars that became available when the MX-5 Cup moved to the ND-based car. It joins the Honda Civic Si and the Volkswagen GTi as new cars eligible for the class. The new cars, along with a version of the Audi RS3 LMS in Touring Car, illustrates the responsiveness of the series, Gill says.
"[Significant] for us is the commitment from the competition department to greater service to the marketplace. As we talked about in the presentation today, the streamlining of the rulebook, looking at alignment, where appropriate, with the FIA, but at the same time responsiveness to the market," Gill said. "That's what's really critical here in North America. For example, there was a tremendous effort to working with Mazda for the ND [in TCA]. That wouldn't have come as part of an international organization, that came from a friendship with Mazda and a partnership with them to get their cars on the grid."
Audi had the RS3 LMS on display at the PRI Show, and Audi hopes that there could be 10 of the cars – which will cost somewhere around $135,000 ready to race – on the Touring Car grid for next year. The version approved for PWC Touring Car has smaller brakes and also some of the electronics are limited. The conversion back to TCR spec should be inexpensive and easy if a competitor wishes to compete in the new TCR class for 2018.
Other highlights from the meeting include that the series will have 120 hours of television coverage in 2017, including four live broadcasts of GT events. GT and SprintX races will be 90- to 120-minute shows, and GTS and Touring Car will have their own 60-minute broadcasts. The series is also implementing LED displays for the GT class in Sprint and SprintX that will show track position and also pit stop times in SprintX races.
In an effort to reduce costs for competitors, the weekends will be shorter, with GT and GTS teams moving into the track on Thursday afternoon and Touring Car teams unloading on Friday morning. The series also plans to offer longer sessions, both to allow competitors to have longer runs during practice and also reduce the time it takes to move cars on and off track throughout the course of a day.
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