Pirelli World Challenge: The American dream

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@LaddersMN

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Evolution is a key part of global motorsport. Sit still and you’ll likely get left behind in the fast-paced world of GT and touring car racing.

The racing climate constantly shifts, with new cars, teams, concepts and formulae being launched each year – and the Pirelli World Challenge is a shining example of a series evolving with the times.

Last year marked another successful campaign for the World Challenge, which has become a staple of sports and touring car racing in North America since its launch in 1990.

Offering a range of racing formats and classes, the World Challenge has spread its net wide. Along with its staple GT and Touring Car series, one of its biggest successes is the developing Sprint X concept.

Through its partnership with the SRO Motorsports Group, series promoter WC Vision and its vice president of competition, the UK’s own Marcus Hazelgrove, have worked to introduce a successful Pro-Am race format for GT3 and Cup spec cars. Sprint X allows two drivers to share a car, the race, and the budget.

“We’ve seen big growth in Sprint X this year, and we’re always looking at ways to streamline it and add value for the teams, drivers and fans,” says WC Vision President Greg Gill.

“Grids have risen and now it’s a known quantity people can plan and budget for Sprint X effectively as it’s one of our most accessible formats. Drivers who have done club racing or similar can now join up with a co-driver and afford to go GT3 racing at the top level. This year we saw more people deciding to rely on a co-driver to get them where they want to be, whether that was a financial lift or simply sharing talent. That’s what Sprint X offers.”

PWC boasts an impressive number of GT3 brands.

The World Challenge has become a go-to place for racing enthusiasts – be they full professionals, career-driven semi-professionals, or complete amateurs. The breadth of the World Challenge is its biggest strength, and this year again reinforced that.

The GTS division – for GT4 cars – has been a big area of growth and now features cars from many global major manufacturers.

The World Challenge’s core Touring Car classes continue to boast full grids too. The Touring Car categories cater for everything from showroom-spec production cars up to modified offerings, and now also TCR-spec machinery.

“We included TCR because it was economical for people,” says Gill. “With the rise in manufacturers now offering ready-to-race TCR products, we included those cars because our drivers and teams like them as an off-the-shelf option.

“Our grid drove the interest in TCR. This year the TCR cars ran toned-down, but for next year we’re in talks with the TCR International organisers to run them uncorked and we think that will be a big addition for next year.”

The Pirelli World Challenge brings with it one of the most diverse fields anywhere. With a dense concentration of manufacturers present, the World Challenge has become recognised as an ideal environment for career-focused drivers.

The series offers a range of prize incentives, helping its champions climb the ladder toward their goal of becoming a professional racing driver.

GT4 and TCR cars are all catered for

“In the world no other series has the number, or the diversity, of manufacturers present that the World Challenge does, and it’s something we pride ourselves upon,” Gill adds.

“To earn your living in motorsport is the exception, not the rule. But the opportunity is there if you can apply yourself and find the right people to impress in the paddocks, and we do offer that environment.

“There are people who have discovered those links through us. We’re thankful for being able to encourage and support people who come here to chase their dream.

“We have a slogan that says ‘This is how racing should be’. It originally came from a TV commentator as throw-away line. But it’s what we are.

“The World Challenge is professional yet approachable. Top-level, yet aspirational. The diversity of makes and models makes it very challenging and exciting for drivers, teams and fans. And we keep focusing on ways to delight our customers, and those can be drivers, fans, team, sponsors and partners.”

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