Pirelli Tire North America Inc. (PTNA) may have scaled back its motorsports presence after its three-year tenure as the supplier/sponsor of Grand American Racing lapsed, but the company still will have measurable exposure this year through its involvement with four grass-roots-style racing series, including its newest, the World Challenge Championships (WCC).
WC Vision L.L.C., the organizer of the WCCconsidered North America's top road-racing series for production-based carsrecently picked PTNA to be the series' official tire supplier for the next five years, replacing Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp., which was the supplier and a sponsor for the past 10 years.
Taking on the supply contract for the WCCwhich will feature a dozen races over eight race weekends at eight U.S. and Canadian venueswill help drivers, teams and fans develop a strong, positive relationship with the Pirelli brand, said Tom Gravalos, vice president of marketing, OE and motorsport, for Rome-based PTNA.
Terms of the new tire deal were not disclosed, but the change will mean competitors will race on true race tires, P Zero Racing Slick and Racing Rain tires in sizes ranging from 245/620 to 325/650. Up to now the series had mandated a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved tire. Toyo had supplied DOT-approved, street-legal competition tires.
PTNA's other racing involvement comprises the Ferrari Challenge, Volkswagen TDI Cup and Pirelli Drivers Cup USA, featuring Porsche 996 and 997 GT3 Cup Cars. The four series together represent about 175 cars to be outfitted.
The WCC features three classes of carsGrand Touring (GT,) Grand Touring Sport (GTS) and Touring (TC)competing in races of a maximum of 50 minutes.
Our competitors have been asking for a racing slick for years and Pirelli is able to do this. said Scott Bove, director of operations for WC Vision L.L.C., the managing arm of World Challenge. We expect the tire will be yet another reason that new teams will consider competing in the Sports Car Wars of World Challenge.
The World Challenge classes are:
* GTdefined as coupe, sedan and convertible typically sold in the market as sports, sport-touring performance versions of luxury cars with target power output ranging from 425 to 525 horsepower. Limited bodywork, suspension and brake modifications allowed; rear- and all-wheel-drive are permitted.
* GTSincludes many cars eligible for the GT class, but at a preparation level much closer to that of a stock vehicle.
* TCdefined as coupes, hatchbacks, wagons or sedans sold as compact or touring cars with realistic seating for at least four adults. Power output ranges from 180 to 200 horsepower with front-, rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations permitted.
All WCC races will be shown on Versus cable TV, but the broadcast schedule is not yet final.
WC Vision also named Centric Parts' StopTech brakes the series' official brake system. The deal does not require competitors to use StopTech brakes but does call for all teams to display the StopTech logo on their cars' number boards.
City of Industry, Calif.-based Centric Parts makes StopTech and Power Slot brands of aftermarket brake components and systems. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Centric Parts was founded in 2000 and today operates warehouse and manufacturing facilities totaling 438,000 square feet and exceeding 500 employees. Centric describes its StopTech business as its ultra-performance division, designing and producing brake components and systems for production-based racing cars and high-performance vehicles on the street and track.
StopTech Trophy Sport Brake Systems are available through motorsports distributors and performance auto aftermarket retailers.
The series, which starts the weekend of March 25-27 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., will get an exposure boost this year with the return of General Motors Co.'s Cadillac brand with a race-prepped version of its CTS-V coupe powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter, 556-horsepower V8 engine. Cadillac won the series' GT Class Manufacturer's Championship in 2005 and 2007 but dropped out after the 2007 season.
Speaking about capability of the CTS-V Coupe, Don Butler, GM vice president of marketing, said the race cars in this series are production based, which allows us to validate our performance against the best of our competitors on the track, and not just the showroom.