25th anniversary season to see expanded GT/GTS schedule

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A preliminary GT/GTS schedule for 2014 has been released by the Pirelli World Challenge, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary campaign next season with an expanded docket for the class.

“We are proud to announce an expanded GT/GTS event schedule for 2014. As the PWC Championships enter our 25th season we will continue to build on the tremendous success of the past few years,” said WC Vision president/CEO Scott Bove.

“With the series’ decision to adopt the FIA GT3 homologation standards for our GT Championships, the successful implementation of our Balance of Performance program, continued growth in event entries and marketing partnership growth we look forward to another record-setting year in 2014.”

WC Vision will reveal a full World Challenge schedule – including ones for Touring Car and Touring Car B-Spec – before November’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

While there are several TBA’s on the preliminary GT/GTS schedule, it does show that five weekends will be run in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series – so all of you that have been waiting for news about IndyCar’s 2014 calendar can now fill in some blanks.

Additionally, the series will also work with the V8 Supercars at Circuit of the Americas and with the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Road America. Here’s how the schedule looks as of now:

March 28-30, 2014 – Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Fla. (double race weekend w/INDYCAR)

April 11-13, 2014 – Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Long Beach, Calif. (single race weekend w/INDYCAR

April/May 2014 – TBA

May 2014 – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Tex. (double race weekend w/V8 Supercars)

May 30-June 1, 2014 – Chevrolet/Cadillac Grand Prix of Detroit (double race weekend w/INDYCAR)

June 19-21, 2014 – Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis. (double race weekend w/NASCAR Nationwide)

July 18-20, 2014 – Honda Indy Toronto (double race weekend w/INDYCAR)

Aug. 1-3, 2014 – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio (double race weekend w/INDYCAR)

Aug. 2014 – TBA

Sept./Oct. 2014 – TBA

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “