Continental Tire will play a major role in “#TheFuture,” of both United SportsCar Racing and the aptly named Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
The tire manufacturer was confirmed Wednesday as exclusive supplier to three of the four USCR classes, Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD). The GT Le Mans category (GTLM) will remain as an open-tire specification to allow for open competition. Additionally, Continental’s exclusive supply to the supporting CTSCC ranks as both tire partner and title sponsor was confirmed.
This isn’t a huge surprise but it means a couple things. First, the existing American Le Mans Series P1 and P2 teams, who run on either Michelin or Bridgestone tires, would need to be able to adapt Continental Tires to whatever car they choose to run in USCR. The P1 class has been eliminated for 2014, and some tests have been performed with P2 cars on Continental rubber.
Secondly, it will likely prevent any European P2 teams, who run on either Dunlop or Michelin rubber, from racing in any USCR endurance events.
Continental currently supplies tires to ALMS PC and all of GRAND-AM’s classes in both the Rolex and CTSCC championships.
The specifications for the merged USCR championship, which will fuse the ALMS and GRAND-AM Rolex Series for 2014, have begun to emerge this month. Driver ratings, pit/paddock regulations and procedures were revealed on July 12. On July 19, further information about class specifications and available cars was announced.
The next major hurdle for the series is a 2014 schedule reveal. Several dates have been leaked by tracks expected to join the calendar (Daytona, Sebring, Petit Le Mans and most recently, Indianapolis).
From conversations, some series insiders are rather anxious about the number of races given the timeline for finalizing 2014 budgets is happening now. Meanwhile, USCR officials have continually stressed the nature of what a long process it is to pare down 22 races at 17 tracks from 2013 into either 10 or 11 races for 2014.
Ideally, a schedule needs to be revealed in August, if not by Labor Day weekend at Baltimore for the ALMS at the absolute latest.