Pirelli World Challenge Comes to The Checkered Flag

The newest addition to The Checkered Flag’s ever-expanding sportscar coverage will be the Pirelli World Challenge, and ahead of the next round, we have prepared an introductory guide to North America’s top GT series.

Born in 1990, the World Challenge series currently consists of six vehicle classes and seven driver classifications.

GT – The top class in the series is open to coupe, sedan and convertible body styles, and would often be referred to as sports cars. Cars are either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and have a power output of 500-600 bhp. Since 2013, FIA GT3 spec cars are permitted to enter this class.

GTA – This is a subcategory of GT and uses similar cars but is open to gentlemen drivers.

GT Cup – New for 2015, GTC is a spec class with Porsche 991 Cup cars that run alongside the GT and GTA categories but have a separate victory circle presentation.

GTS – As is the case with GT, coupes, sedans and convertibles are allowed in GTS but they typically have a lower power output of around 300-400 bhp. In addition to RWD and AWD layouts, front-wheel cars can run in GTS. FIA GT4 cars can run in GTS.

TC – Coupes, hatchbacks, wagons and sedans are permitted in the Touring Car category as long as they produce around 300 bhp. As with GTS, all drivetrain layouts are allowed.

TCA – An evolution of the TC class, TCA emphasises cost saving, giving an easy route into professional sportscar racing. FWD and RWD cars are allowed and a target of 220 bhp must come from non-modified stock engines.

TCB – The final class is for small, efficient cars with a power output of around 125 bhp. Modifications are heavily restricted and are usually limited to manufacturer specified springs and shock absorbers, thus keeping the cost down.

Each race weekend has a number of races, but not all classes race each time. Races combine the GT, GTA and GTC classes and the TC, TCA and TCB categories, whilst GTS runs on its own.

The most recent round of the championship was at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where there were two GT/GTA/GTC races and two GTS events. The next round is held at the same track but will feature three TC/TCA/TCB races.

2015 Calendar:

DateCircuitLocationGT/GTA/GTC RacesGTS RacesTC/TCA/TCB RacesSupporting
March 6-8Circuit of the AmericasAustin, TX223Headline
March 27-29Streets of St PetersburgSt Petersburg, FL22-IndyCar
April 17-19Streets of Long BeachLong Beach, CA1--IndyCar, Tudor United SportsCar Championship
April 24-26Barber Motorsports ParkBirmingham, AL22-IndyCar
May 15-17Canadian Tire Motorsport ParkBowmanville, ON (Canada)223NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
May 29-31The Raceway on Belle IsleDetroit, MI2 (GT/GTA only)--IndyCar, Tudor United SportsCar Championship
June 26-28Road AmericaElkhart Lake, WI223Headline
July 31 - August 2Mid-Ohio Sports Car CourseLexington, OH22-IndyCar
August 14-16Mid-Ohio Sports Car CourseLexington, OH--3NASCAR Xfinity Series
August 21-23Miller Motorsports ParkTooele, UT223Headline
August 28-30Sonoma RacewaySonoma, CA22-IndyCar
September 11-13Mazda Raceway Laguna SecaMonterey, CA113Headline

Each race has a 50 minute maximum time limit and uses standing starts, unlike many other sportscar series.

Something that sets Pirelli World Challenge apart from many other series is the variety in cars, both between classes but also inside them. For example, there are around 15 different models in the GT/GTA categories and about 20 in the touring car classes.

The Checkered Flag will have coverage for the TC/TCA/TCB rounds at Mid-Ohio on August 14-16.