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.
|Date||Circuit||Location||GT/GTA/GTC Races||GTS Races||TC/TCA/TCB Races||Supporting|
|March 6-8||Circuit of the Americas||Austin, TX||2||2||3||Headline|
|March 27-29||Streets of St Petersburg||St Petersburg, FL||2||2||-||IndyCar|
|April 17-19||Streets of Long Beach||Long Beach, CA||1||-||-||IndyCar, Tudor United SportsCar Championship|
|April 24-26||Barber Motorsports Park||Birmingham, AL||2||2||-||IndyCar|
|May 15-17||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park||Bowmanville, ON (Canada)||2||2||3||NASCAR Canadian Tire Series|
|May 29-31||The Raceway on Belle Isle||Detroit, MI||2 (GT/GTA only)||-||-||IndyCar, Tudor United SportsCar Championship|
|June 26-28||Road America||Elkhart Lake, WI||2||2||3||Headline|
|July 31 - August 2||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||Lexington, OH||2||2||-||IndyCar|
|August 14-16||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||Lexington, OH||-||-||3||NASCAR Xfinity Series|
|August 21-23||Miller Motorsports Park||Tooele, UT||2||2||3||Headline|
|August 28-30||Sonoma Raceway||Sonoma, CA||2||2||-||IndyCar|
|September 11-13||Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca||Monterey, CA||1||1||3||Headline|
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.