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Hello Everybody! I’ve been thinking long and hard on what I think should be the direction that Pirelli World Challenge should take to get back on track as the premier GT racing series. I know, I know, I wrote about this a while back, but we finally have some news on what they are ACTUALLY going to be doing for 2019. Whew, it sure was a lot! So I thought that I’d break down the news and give my two cents.


First off, you should read the post I linked in the first paragraph to get a refresher on what their problems have been the last couple years, especially this year. I won’t be repeating any of that, as I am focusing on the new information.

Their current format for GT and GTS classes is split between Sprint and Sprint-X, which are 50min, 1 driver races with no planned pit stops and 60min, 2 driver races with 1 planned pitstop. Each with it’s own championship and combined make the whole GT and GTS championships. Next year, the main championships are no longer split into sprint and Sprint-X (thank god, it clearly wasn’t working to have both). Instead, they will go to a single format; 90min, 2 driver GT races with full pit stops and 50min, single driver sprint races for GTS.

This makes perfect sense to me, as the longer races were obviously more popular to field cars in. Also, having two drivers split the costs of the weekend surely helps the teams’ budgets a fair bit. I assume they will continue with the Pro/Pro, Pro/AM and AM/AM pairings like we’ve seen in Sprint-X this year and they can score those classes differently. GTS sees a return to the 2017 format, with the notable exception that the Platinum drivers will not be allowed. Gold, Silver and Bronze rated drivers will have their own podiums and points.

Those are the major differences for next year. The smaller differences include a smaller calendar with 7 GT and 8 GTS weekends. I like this, as long as they actually try to advertise each of the weekends and get fans into the seats. If they pick weekends where they are the second fiddle, it is all for moot. They really need to take a hard look at how to make the series more enticing to come watch.

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I honestly think by making the races longer, they are already doing themselves a huge favour and creating a more spectator-friendly event. Why should somebody take a hour or more to drive to the track just to watch a 50min race? IMSA, INDY and NASCAR are all at least 100mins long, twice that of PWC’s current format, and they bring a lot more fans out to watch.

The last of the notable changes are that they have introduced 2 regional GTS championships, scored independently of each other. They are doing this to accommodate the huge explosion of interest in GT4 machinery. The serious teams will do the main championship and the smaller teams and/or more amateur drivers will be competing in the regional series.

With that, here are the schedules for each series:

2019 GT Pirelli World Challenge Schedule:
March TBA — Circuit of The Americas
April 27-28 — Virginia International Raceway
May 18-19 — Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
June 8-9 — Sonoma Raceway
Aug. 30 – Sept. 1 — Watkins Glen International
Sept. 21-22 — Road America
Oct. 5-6 — Grand Finale*

2019 GTS Pirelli World Challenge Schedule:
March 9-10 — St. Pete
April 27-28 — Virginia International Raceway
May 18-19 — Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
June 8-9 — Sonoma Raceway
July 13-14 — Portland International Raceway
Aug. 30 – Sept. 1 — Watkins Glen International
Sept. 21-22 — Road America
Oct. 5-6 — Grand Finale*

2019 GT4 America West Schedule:
April 6-7 — Palm Springs
May — California TBA
June 8-9 — Sonoma Raceway
July 13-14 — Portland International Raceway
Oct. 5-6 — Grand Finale*

2019 GT4 America East Schedule:
March 9-10 — St. Pete
April 27-28 — Virginia International Raceway
May 18-19 — Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Aug. 30 – Sept. 1 — Watkins Glen International
Sept. 21-22 — Road America

*Rumoured to be the Las Vegas Motor Speedway roval

After reading this, you may think that I’m drinking all the hype-ade, but really I’m cautiously optimistic. The racing its self hasn’t been the issue, because when the entries are high, there are plenty of interesting battles to watch. When there are 5 cars in a class, it gets boring, REAL quick.

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All in all, there are a lot of good changes coming. However I don’t think it’s enough. They need to make the series more fun to come to the track and watch as a spectator. I have been to the 4 of the last 5 PWC events at Mosport and although in my mind, they are the main attraction on the weekend, they are far from.

No TV’s, no big autograph sessions, no grid walk and no parade laps (a la IMSA’s guest fast laps). They don’t even bring in enough people to warrant grand stands at certain corners like the IMSA or NASCAR weekends have. You basically just show up, set up your folding chair and watch all day; nothing to engage the fans with when they show up. Even for those not at the track, we have no significant TV coverage, a sub-par live stream and sub-par social media presence. On the whole, this is the biggest thing they need to work on. As I mentioned before, it’s important to have a championship that produces great racing. However, if it can’t reach the audience, what good is that achieving? You need a good balance of both to truly have a good series.

The latter is bound to take time to develop, as the amateurs are centred in PWC. There aren’t that many pro’s compared to Indy, IMSA and NASCAR, so it’s more difficult to get attention. However, for PWC that isn’t the answer. The reason why GT3 is at it’s lowest is because there were too many pros and made the racing really expensive. So again, balance is key.

We’ll have to see what else is in store, but for now, it’s a good start. I can’t wait to see them in action again next spring (hopefully).

***Updated to include the released provisional schedules***


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