34 JULY 2014
pireLLi worLd chaLLenge
of the three street races so far, with the
exception of the airport/street hybrid at
St. Petersburg), the series has pulled
back on those allowances.
However, while Cadillac and Acura
remain, Volvo pulled its support of K-PAX
Racing and its race-winning S60s at the
end of 2013. Looking at its alternatives,
the team chose the McLaren 12C GT3 for
drivers Alex Figge and Robert Thorne.
“We were fairly certain we wanted a
mid-engine car,” says K-PAX principal
Jim Haughey. “We wanted to get the best
deal and get as much support as possible.
Once we gathered all the information, we
developed a spreadsheet. At the end of
the day, we took a vote and McLaren won.”
It may seem a huge jump from a Volvo
sedan to a McLaren supercar – and
talking about road cars, it is. But given
the development costs of making that
Volvo sedan compete with an Audi R8 or
Porsche 911, it actually can be more cost-
effective to race the McLaren, factory
“It’s an easy way to get in. Instead of
saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got to spend a million
dollars to build a car,’ you can buy one for,
say, $400,000,” says Haughey.
The GT3 cars are designed primarily for
endurance racing and, with the exception of
a couple of series, usually compete in races
of three hours or more. There are some
challenges and benefits to taking cars built
for running 24 hours and racing them in
a sub-one-hour, no-holds-barred sprint –
Sofronas lists some adjustments to brake
pad compounds and shock tuning, for
example. On the other hand, the engines
can last for two or three seasons of World
Challenge competition without a refresh.
Of course, given that many of the cars in
GT are endurance-capable, thoughts turn to
some longer PWC races. Indeed, the series
and its predecessor, the Escort Endurance
Championship, have a history of longer
races. That thought is being entertained,
says Bove, driven by requests from
competitors and manufacturers. PWC is
considering some longer – but not too much
longer – races for 2015, and would also like
to have separate races for the GT and GTS
classes when numbers support such a move.
It seems that GT3’s inclusion has greatly
brightened Pirelli World Challenge’s future.
With more manufacturers developing cars –
and several already existing that have yet to
make it to the series – there will only be
more options from which teams can choose.
“I feel that GT3 is the future and I think
World Challenge recognizes that,” says
Sofronas. “If you’re going to run at this
level – and you can also run in the GTA
class, the pro-am class – why wouldn’t
you want to race a top-level car that’s not
only extremely well built, but very safe?
And all that stuff’s done by the factory,
with millions of their own research and
development dollars invested in it.”
pirelli world challenge management not
only has the tough job of balancing
Fia-legal g T3 cars with cars custom-built
to the world challenge regulations like
the cadillacs in the g T category; it has a
similar task with the other classes.
in g TS for example, popular cars
include the front-wheel-drive,
turbocharged Kia optima sedan; the
Ford Mustang Boss 302 and chevrolet
camaro V8, rear-wheel drive pony cars;
and the mid-engine, flat-six porsche
cayman S. and those are just the
makes of cars that have won through
the first six rounds of the 2014 season.
add in the aston Martin V8 Vantage
and nissan 370Z, among others, and
it’s impressive that the cars are even
close to being equal.
The key, of course, is data, and using
that data to apply handicaps such as
weight and/or air restrictors to each
car as the series sees necessary.
“each of the cars has data collection
capability, which provides us with
accelerometer and top speed data,”
says pirelli world challenge president
and ceo Scott Bove. “we monitor 50
to 90mph, 90 to 125mph and we
monitor maximum g loading and brake
loading. we look at the dynamics, the
performance matrix of the cars.
“So we see firsthand how a Kia is
managing its acceleration compared to
the camaro. we look at the matrices,
and we weight them. over a period of
collecting as much data as we have, we
have a field where, in qualifying, the top
10 is within a tenth of a second.”
Balancing the performance of a front-wheel-drive Kia Optima (ABOVE) and a V8 pony
car comes with the territory in GTS.
pwc’S BaLancing ac T
clASS EquAli Ty
With a fleet of Audi R8s, GMG was one of
the early adopters of GT3 in Pirelli World
Challenge. Now, almost every new car
joining the resurgent series is GT3 spec.
(lEFT) Two GT3
Ferraris and a
cadillac on the
podium at Barber.
The series organizers
say that competitive
mix is one they
want to maintain.