After a growing GT SprintX campaign in 2017, Pirelli World Challenge made the decision to offer the SprintX format (60 minutes, two drivers) in the GTS category this year.
The GTS class had primarily been a sprint racing series (50 minutes, one driver) But after seeing the entry list for the GTS SprintX season opener set for this weekend (March 23-25) at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), the GTS SprintX doubleheader looks to be on pace as one of the largest GTS weekends in the 29-year history of the Pirelli World Challenge.
“As the 2017 season ended, we had strong interest in GTS for the SprintX format as part of the 2018 points championship,” said Greg Gill, president and CEO of WC Vision, producers of the Pirelli World Challenge. “There were passionate voices on both sides of the discussion. The increased grid for COTA GTS SprintX over an already strongly performing Sprint grid demonstrates the racers and teams interest in this change.”
The COTA entry list sports 12 different auto manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Ginetta, KTM, Maserati, McLaren, Mercedes, Panoz, Porsche and SIN CAR.
Last year saw many of those manufacturers reach the GTS podium as well as the top step in victory lane and the 2018 GTS SprintX championship figures to produce more winners in the Pro-Am and Am-Am divisions.
In addition to the superb GTS machinery, some of the past PWC class champions are competing in the GTS SprintX this year including reigning GTS titleholder Lawson Aschenbach and former GT champion Andy Pilgrim in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, 2017 GT SprintX champion and 2015 GTS titleholder Michael Cooper and Tony Gaples in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, defending GTSA champion George Kurtz and veteran Colin Braun in the No. 04 CrowdStrike/GMG Audi R8 LMS GT4, reigning GT SprintX Pro-Am and GTA champion James Sofronas and Alex Welch in the No. 14 GMG Audi R8 LMS, 2017 TC champion Paul Holton and Ray Mason in the No. 78 McLaren 570S GT4, 2016 TC champion Toby Grahovec and Chris Ohmacht in the No. 26 Fast Track Racing/Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4 and 2017 TCA champion Matt Fassnacht and Christian Szymczak in the No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.
Plus, other top sports car stars competing in the GTS SprintX division at COTA include past GT Sprint race winner Ryan Eversley, former GT SprintX race winner Kyle Marcelli, 2016 GTS race winner Nate Stacy, former GTS race winner Andy Lee, TC race winner Nick Wittmer, Trans-Am race winners Cameron Lawrence, Shane Lewis and Gar Robinson, former GT SprintX race winner Preston Calvert, six-time 2017 GTS race winner Ian James, multi-time GTS race winner Jade Buford, former GTSA SprintX race winners Max Riddle, Greg Liefooghe, Derek DeBoer and GTSA race winners Drew Staveley, Mark Klenin, Harry Gottsacker and Jason Bell.
“We have an outstanding entry list of top teams, cars and drivers for the COTA SprintX season opener,” said Jack Baldwin, GTS class manager for the Pirelli World Challenge. “The growth of the exciting new GT4 cars and manufacturers has allowed many new competitors in the GTS division. The GTS SprintX class gives many of our customer racers a chance to compete at a pro level at a very good price point and I’m looking for some great racing at COTA this weekend.”
GTS SprintX action begins Friday with two practices followed by qualifying set for Saturday (March 24) at 9:00 a.m. CT and Round 1 (60-minute race) at 1:20 p.m. Sunday’s Round 2 event will take place at 10:15 a.m. All of the 2018 GTS SprintX events will be live streamed on the Pirelli World Challenge website, http://www.world-challenge.com as well as post-produced highlight telecasts on the CBS Sports Network.