Larger entries, returning staff and major off-season investments bring excitement
AUSTIN, Tex. – The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge Championships have already processed a record 105 pre-entries as another highly-competitive road racing series is set to kick off in the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida on March 10-12.
From the Championship-deciding last -lap finish last October in the 2016 season wrap-up at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the largest GT Production-based campaign in North America brings over 25 manufacturers to a record pre-season entry list that includes machines for last year’s top GT finishers and past PWC champions Alvaro Parente, Patrick Long and Johnny O’Connell.
Utilizing the new USAC-sanctioned online registration program, the PWC pre-entry program has been a huge hit with the competitors, manufacturers, sponsors and PWC staff.
“We are very pleased with the USAC online registration system,” said Greg Gill, President and CEO of WC Vision, the producer of the Pirelli World Challenge. “After learning the system, the programming of the entries and various information has been virtually seamless and I would like thank the racing teams, drivers and our PWC staff for their efforts in making the system work so well. We cannot wait for the green flag to drop at St. Pete.”
In 2017, all seven classes – GT, GTA, GT Cup, GTS/GT4, Touring Car, TCA and TCB-spec – are set to do battle with the current record entry growing daily. In the 2016 season finale, the paddock at MRLS had another series record of 127 entries including a strong 24-car field in the two-driver, 60-minute SprintX doubleheader.
Five of the ten GT weekends this year will be headlined by the very competitive SprintX races which saw two events decided in the last lap at Utah Motorsports Campus and MRLS. All seven classes will compete in the five PWC headliner weekends beginning at VIRginia International Raceway on April 28-30.
Recently, the Pirelli Challenge announced changes in response to their customers’ feedback for 2017. It includes a shorter overall weekend schedule on their Headliner events along with longer sessions for the drivers and teams.
Marcus Haselgrove, WC Vision’s Vice President, Competition said, “We have attempted to move the load-in dates closer to the weekends, helping logistics and budgets within the paddock.”
Both Gill and Haselgrove also are enthusiastic to bring back many of the Pirelli World Challenge staff and at-track officials for the 2017 season.
“While our new affiliation with Kevin Miller and USAC has been outstanding, we have expanded the administration, sales and competition departments,” said Gill. “The competition department expansion now includes all PWC officials, paddock area personnel and stewards. WC Vision has taken a larger role in the operation of the Pirelli World Challenge than in the past and we continue to make our organization a smoother and professional operation. Our Chief Steward, Peter Roberts, returns along with Race Director, Dorsey Schroeder, and Chief Drivers Steward, Brian Till.”
TSL Timing and Scoring System (www.tsl-timing.com), also utilized in international competition by more than a dozen racing series, has been implemented in the Pirelli World Challenge series in 2017. And the popular LED race position display lighting boards also will be featured on each of the GT/GTA/GTCup cars this year.
Another addition for the 2017 PWC season will be the same-day CBS Sports Network coverage of the GT/GTA/GT Cup action at four occasions – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Road America, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Sonoma Raceway.
“The excitement is building for the 2017 opener at St. Petersburg as over 45 cars are already entered and more are expected,” said Gill. “With the Pirelli World Challenge moving into its 28th season, we believe the competition level will be greater than ever. We want to invite the racing fans to witness the action in person and through our telecasts on CBS Sports and www.MotorTrendonDemand.com .”