TUSC: Rolex 24 PC class preview

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The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship premieres this weekend with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. We’ll have sporadic posts and updates for the season opener of the unified series, which brings together the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and American Le Mans Series.

Next up in our list of class previews, the PC class.

PC CLASS

WHAT IT IS: The second prototype class. Cars require at least two Silver or Bronze drivers combined in four-or-five driver lineups. All-spec ORECA FLM09 chassis with Chevrolet powerplants (unbadged) and spec Continental Tires. This class carried over from the ALMS and has been praised for its low costs and good racing between both the pro and am drivers. This will be the first 24-hour race for the PC class, which never ran more than 12 in any ALMS race.

WHO THEY ARE: 9 spec ORECA FLM09s, driven by a mix of sports car veterans, IndyCar interlopers and gentlemen drivers ranked either Silver or Bronze according to IMSA’s driver ranking system (Platinum and Gold are reserved for paid professionals).

A QUICK BREAKDOWN: Starworks Motorsport (No. 7/8) and RSR Racing (No. 08/09) run two cars apiece, with 8Star Motorsports (No. 25), Performance Tech Motorsports (No. 38), PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports (No. 52), CORE autosport (No. 54) and BAR1 Motorsports (No. 87) rounding up the class.

CORE is the three-time defending team champion from ALMS; a win for BAR1 would be its fourth straight after taking the last three of 2013. All teams except 8Star (which only ran the season-ending ALMS race, and finished second in its debut) and Starworks (one PC class start) have at least one class victory from the ALMS.

WHO TO WATCH: The pro drivers in class include Sam Bird (GP2 runner-up), Kyle Marcelli and Renger van der Zande at Starworks, Alex Tagliani, Conor Daly, Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende at RSR, Tom Kimber-Smith and Rob Huff at 8Star, Raphael Matos at Performance Tech, Gunnar Jeannette at PR1/Mathiasen, Colin Braun, Mark Wilkins and James Gue at CORE, and Sean Rayhall at BAR1. Others may emerge depending on the timing of the stint or how well the am-ranked drivers hold up in their stints.

Picking a favorite? This is hard. I would not be surprised with any class winner, and likely the class winner is the one that endures the least amount of reliability issues.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.