Ratel with Greg Gill. Photo: PWC

SRO acquires shareholding in WC Vision; Ratel named to Board of Directors

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – A huge bit of Pirelli World Challenge news has just come out… see the release below for more information.

WC Vision announced today that successful SRO Motorsports Group owner and Blancpain GT Series CEO Stephane Ratel has been named to the WC Vision and Pirelli World Challenge Board of Directors, as part of SRO Motorsports Group becoming a shareholder in WC Vision.

Ratel is the founder and CEO of the SRO Motorsports Group. The business was founded in 1995 and currently operates the promotion, support and organization of various international auto racing series throughout the world including the popular Blancpain GT Series. Ratel is internationally known as “the architect of modern GT racing.”

Ratel joins fellow WC Vision shareholders Bob Woodhouse, Peter Cunningham, Jim Haughey and Charles Morgan as a member of the Board of Directors of WC Vision.

Last March, Pirelli World Challenge officials announced an alliance with the SRO Motorsports Group. That affiliation will continue to grow during the 2016 season with the two sports car racing series utilizing similar technical regulations including the SRO Balance of Performance equations and other selected particulars.

“Working with Stephane and his SRO Motorsports Group, a great relationship has been established with WC Vision over the past year,” said Greg Gill, president and CEO of WC Vision, producers of the Pirelli World Challenge. “We have an open forum with their officials to work closely on the technical side with the GT3 regulations. Now, having Stephane join our Board of Directors, this definitely gives WC Vision and the Pirelli World Challenge a worldwide perspective from the leader in GT racing.”

Ratel is excited by his addition to the WC Vision Board of Directors and looks forward to the expansion of the GT production-based platform from North America to the international competition.

“Our alliance with WC Vision and Pirelli World Challenge has been outstanding,” said Ratel. “We have enjoyed working closely with Greg and his entire WC Vision staff as well as getting to know the WC Vision Board members. I’m very enthusiastic about joining the Board of Directors and the outlook for the company’s future. I see great potential in the Pirelli World Challenge and I can’t wait to work more closely within the series.”

Ratel has been closely associated with the revival of GT Racing since the mid 90’s. He was one of the founders of the BPR Series before launching the FIA GT Championship which he ran as a strong and stable European-based Championship with regular overseas events in China, South America and the Middle East.

The second key element was the introduction of the Balance of Performance concept. Its success in managing to equalize GT class cars, opened the way for the GT3 category, successfully initiated by SRO at the end of 2005.

SRO launched the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2011, as a direct continuation of the old three-hour, three-driver FIA GT Championship format and took over the promotion of the famous 24 Hours of Spa.

Recent years have seen SRO step out of most of the national and single-make series it was running, going from a maximum of 14 different series at one point to concentrate on the Blancpain GT Series, which combines the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup, as well as the increasingly successful British GT Championship and the GT4 European Series, a category it created and for which it is is the exclusive rights holder.

SRO has also established new programs such as Intercontinental GT Challenge, the first-ever global GT3 Series, the Blancpain GT Sports Club for amateur drivers, the Blancpain Ultracar Sports Club for the most spectacular machines, the SRO Race Centre at Paul Ricard circuit and Curbstone, which provides ultimate track driving opportunities on world-renowned race circuits in Western Europe for supercar owners, as well as test driving facilities for race car drivers.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.