Hello Everybody and welcome back to another edition of #SMB!
A couple significant things have happened since my last post; one being the first stint of F1 testing and the other would be announcements of the Pirelli World Challenge (now branded as Blancpain GT World Challenge America) entry lists for COTA next month. I won’t be talking about F1 until the conclusion of testing, as the first week isn’t all that enlightening historically.
So today I will be focusing in on the Blancpain news (I’m going to abbreviate the series to BWCA), as I’ve written a lot about the series’ health in the last year or so.
Last we left Ratel & Co, SRO bought a controlling stake in PWC, thereby acquiring the “World Challenge” trademark and re-branding all the GT3 and GT4 series they run in the process. Gone is Pirelli as a title sponsor (they still are exclusive tire suppliers) and in comes a new way of thinking.
SRO got rid of the split championships in GT3 (thank god) and instead focused on the 2 driver “Sprint-X” format and merged it with the sprint rules from Europe, where it’s been a proven formula for years and years. It’s obvious that it works because this year’s opener for BWCA has a staggering 23 cars across Pro,Pro/AM and AM subclasses. That’s up from 11 last year…
Not only that, but GT4 is still healthy despite the explosive growth in GT3. Another staggering fact is that the newly branded TC America has 47 cars for COTA as well across TCR/TCR Cup (all the Audi’s got lumped into a class)/TC/TCA.
It’s an understatement to say that this has been a huge leap for the series. Although I can’t say I’m surprised. SRO obviously know what they are doing and it’s clear now that the guys running PWC over the last few years dropped the ball HARD. If in as little as a half year, they’ve been able to turn the series around to this degree, I can’t wait to see what they can do in the next couple years.
In all seriousness, this should be the main GT racing series on this continent. This format is much better suited for racing with all due respect to IMSA. IMSA is a totally different animal, and rightfully so. It’s supposed to be for those wanting to make the step up potentially to prototypes or GTLM.
I think IMSA even saw what was going on with PWC and decided to get ahead of the curve and split the championship into the Sprint and NAEC races. This was done to stimulate some growth in the series as well, as they’ve seen some declining numbers in the last couple years themselves.
However, time will tell if the on-track racing in BWCA has improved by the time the circus comes to Canada. My camera and I can’t wait for the action as I will actually have something to shoot this year, as only 10 cars showed up to Mosport last May.
Until then, watch this space for some more BWCA content in the near future!
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