Larry Wilson --------------- New Challenge For Porsche by Larry Wilson, Sacramento Valley Region, PCA In a press release issued November 3, 1995, SCCA Pro Racing announced it had restructured the World Challenge series for 1996, aligning the...
Larry Wilson ---------------
New Challenge For Porsche by Larry Wilson, Sacramento Valley Region, PCA
In a press release issued November 3, 1995, SCCA Pro Racing announced it had restructured the World Challenge series for 1996, aligning the newly named Grand Sports class with the European GT regulations used for Le Mans. Cars participating in the new Grand Sports division, which replaces the World Challenge Sports Class, will be prepared in accordance with the FIA/Automobile Club De L'Ouest (ACO) GT-1 and GT-2 rules. There will be two classes -- Sports 1 (S1) and 2 (S2) -- differentiated by horsepower to weight ratios. This is the organization's first attempt to configure a production-based series' rules on an international formula since the 1970s, when the Trans-Am included FIA Group 4 and 5 cars.
"It's a global marketplace and we have positioned the World Challenge as a global series," said Dan Greenwood, SCCA Pro Racing Ltd., President. "Our goal is to create international appeal with respect to SCCA Pro Racing and the World Challenge." With an eye perhaps on IMSA, Greenwood continued, "This looks to be the right time for SCCA Pro Racing to take a leadership role with respect to international GT sports car racing here in the U.S."
The former World Challenge Sports Class was dominated in 1995 by the Rohr Motorsport Team out of Cincinnati. Drivers David Murry and Jochen Rohr, both in Porsche 911 GT2s, captured the Manufacturers Championship for Porsche for the second straight year and Murry won the eight-race Drivers Championship.
Now, with the new rules for 1996, Porsche will have stiff competition if they expect to "three-peat" the manufacturers championship. The new Grand Sports division will feature domestic cars such as Chevrolet's Corvette, Callaway Corvettes, Saleen Mustangs and Dodge Vipers as well as the best from Japan and Europe including the McLaren GTR, Ferrari F40, BMW M3 and Toyota Supra GT. A homologation process similar to that used by the FIA/ACO will be used by SCCA Pro Racing.
A significant feature of the FIA/ACO rules, and thus the new World Challenge rules, is the requirement for reinforced stock chassis/frames. They don't allow tube-frame cars. This will eliminate the huge disadvantage faced by most Porsche GT-1 and GT-2 teams in races sanctioned by IMSA, which permits purpose-built, tube-frame cars like the Nissan, Mazda, and Oldsmobile (and the GT-2 Porsche of IMSA-owner, Charles Slater, which began life many years ago as a GTU race car).
The new class will have cars running on radial racing tires, a change from the 1995 World Challenge DOT tire rules. Engines will be race-modified with weight ratios ranging from 600hp at 3,000 pounds to 350hp at 2,200 pounds for S1 and S2 classes, respectively. Induction air restrictors will be used to limit horsepower in accordance with the FIA/ACO regulations for the 1996 Le Mans event.
Initially, according to SCCA Pro Racing, World Challenge events will remain sprint races, ranging from 45 minutes to 60 minutes, but consideration will be given in the future for longer endurance-type events as dictated by promoter interest. Seven events have been scheduled in 1996 to be run the same weekend with the SCCA Trans-Am series. An additional two to three races are expected as SCCA negotiates with promoters for more Trans-Am event dates.
The soon-to-be-launched Speedvision Network will provide live coverage of World Challenge races held in conjunction with Trans-Am events.
Preliminary Schedule -- 1996 World Challenge Series (2 to 3 additional events expected)
February 23-25 St. Petersburg May 17-19 Mosport May 24-27 Lime Rock August 2-4 Trois-Rivieres August 16-17 Road America Aug. 30/Sept. 1 Dallas Sept. 20-22 Reno Hilton