World Challenge set for expanded TV time, streamlined qualifying

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World Challenge set for expanded TV time, streamlined qualifying

Blancpain GT World Challenge

World Challenge set for expanded TV time, streamlined qualifying

SRO Motorsports America, the new name for WC Vision and the organization that runs World Challenge racing, will have some new qualifying procedures for GT3, greater involvement with new and existing partners and an enhanced TV package in 2019. The trio of series held its annual State of the Series presentation at the Performance Racing Industry trade show, the day after it celebrated its series champions. While few revelations came out of the meeting, there were some items of note.

While the series stopped short of officially confirming the rumor that Las Vegas Motor Speedway would host the Oct. 18-20 Grand Finale for Blancpain GT World Challenge America, Pirelli GT4 America and TC America series, they did note that next year’s end-of-season celebration would be in Las Vegas.

CBS Sports will continue to carry the series broadcasts, but is upping the broadcast hours to more than 100. In addition, there is the possibility of two-hour live broadcasts of some of the GT3 races, which would consist of broadcasting the second race of the weekend on Sunday and include highlights from Race 1 along with produced pieces. There might also be some same-day broadcasts, and GT4 and Touring Car will see most of their broadcasts air within a week of running. Livestreaming will continue without a paywall on world-challenge.com with a partner to be named. The series is also looking at livestreaming qualifying.

Qualifying for GT3 SprintX will follow SRO’s model from its other series, where both drivers will qualify and the aggregate time will determine starting position. The grid for the second race will still be determined by fastest lap in the first race.

“We want to use best practices and there are many things from our rulebook that have been adopted globally by the SRO and in turn there are many things that make the show more interesting and exciting like the qualifying process used globally we’re adopting here for 2019,” says SRO America President and CEO Greg Gill.

“I think that’s a fair way. If you think of Pros and Ams if you just went to only the Am qualifies, then why are you having a Pro? On the same token if only the Pro qualifies, then he’s carrying the Am. It’s not fair. Now you’re getting the best of both people’s talent and they’re going to push hard.”

In GT4 America, which will have title sponsorship from Pirelli, all drivers will need to have FIA licenses and be classified by the FIA. Gold drivers will be allowed in Sprint and SprintX races, and the classes for SprintX races will be Pro-Am and Am.

TC America continues largely unchanged with TCR (and the addition of the new sub-class for cars with DSG transmissions), TC and TCA carrying over to 2019. TC America Series manager Jim Jordan said he believes people will be shocked at the size of the TCA grids in 2019.

Off track, a new addition at many races will be the GT Paddock Club. This invitation-only hospitality venue is designed to accelerate business connections between the many companies represented in the paddock and their corporate guests at each race. It will be sponsored by CrowdStrike – World Challenge competitor George Kurtz’s cybersecurity company – current CrowdStrike Racing partner Amazon Web Services (AWS), new series sponsor Purple Monkey Garage and title sponsor Pirelli.

World Challenge will be celebrating its 30th season in 2019, one of many things that Gill says he is excited about for the coming year. Other positives are the growth of GT4 and the expansion of Touring Car.

“We get a chance to celebrate the effort and time that everyone has put into the business,” he says.

SRO America’s 2019 season begins March 1-3 at Circuit of The Americas.

2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America

Circuit of The Americas March 1-3
Virginia International Raceway April 27-28
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park May 18-19
Sonoma Raceway

June 8-9

Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22
Grand Finale Oct. 19-20

GT4 America Sprint

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 9-10
Grand Prix of Long Beach April 13-14
Virginia International Raceway April 27-28
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park May 18-19
Portland International Raceway July 13-14
Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22
Grand Finale Oct. 19-20

GT4 America SprintX

Circuit of The Americas March 1-3
Virginia International Raceway April 27-28
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park May 18-19
Sonoma Raceway

June 8-9

Portland International Raceway July 13-14
Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22
Grand Finale Oct. 19-20

GT4 America East

Circuit of The Americas March 1-3
Virginia International Raceway April 27-28
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park May 18-19
Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22

GT4 America West

Circuit of The Americas March 2-3
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca March 30-31
Sonoma Raceway

June 8-9

Portland International Raceway July 13-14
Grand Finale Oct. 19-20

TC America  

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 9-10
Virginia International Raceway April 27-28
Sonoma Raceway June 8-9
Portland International Raceway

July 13-14

Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22
Grand Finale Oct. 19-20

TC America (Touring Car, TCA)

Circuit of The Americas March 2-3
Virginia International Raceway April 27-28
Sonoma Raceway June 8-9
Portland International Raceway

July 13-14

Watkins Glen International Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Road America Sept. 21-22
Grand Finale Oct. 19-20

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