TOPEKA, Kan.—Pirelli Tire North America Inc. has agreed to become the title sponsor for the Sports Car Club of America's World Challenge Championship, expanding on the five-year race tire supply contract it signed last year for the production car-based racing championship.
“Pirelli has a strong appetite for GT racing, and we value partners that seek to improve competition in the sport,” said Tom Gravalos, vice president of marketing, motorsports and OE for Rome, Ga.-based Pirelli Tire.
The five-year agreement is a fully integrated sponsorship program and includes race entitlements and in-market activation. The value of the contract was not disclosed.
Pirelli agreed last October to take over the tire supply contract. It replaced Toyo Tire USA Inc., which had been the single tire supplier and a sponsor for the 10 years through 2010.
“Our colleagues at Pirelli have been very professional to work with in coming to the agreement on the partnership,” said Scott Bove, director of operations for WC Vision, the managing arm of World Challenge.
The change will mean competitors will race on true race tires, P Zero Racing Slick and Racing Rain tires, WC Vision said. Up to now the series had mandated a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved tire.
“We expect the tire will be yet another reason that new teams will consider competing in the Sports Car Wars of World Challenge,” Mr. Bove said.
The World Challenge Championship features three classes of cars—Grand Touring (GT,) Grand Touring Sport (GTS) and Touring (TC)—competing in races of a maximum of 50 minutes. The 2010 season covered 12 races, the most in the series' 21-year history, and attracted 100 competitors throughout the year, according to World Challenge.
The World Challenge classes are:
— GT—defined 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 hp; limited bodywork, suspension and brake modifications allowed; rear- and all-wheel-drive are permitted.
— GTS—includes many cars eligible for the GT class, but at a preparation level much closer to that of a stock vehicle.
— TC—defined as coupes, hatchbacks, wagons or sedans typically sold as compact or touring cars with “realistic seating” for at least four adults.
Power output ranges from 180 to 200 hp with front-, rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations permitted.
The 12-race 2011 Pirelli World Challenge Championships campaign began March 25-27 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. All races will be broadcast on VERSUS.