Pirelli World Challenge GT Class Manager Rob Morgan is expecting an increase in GT Cup cars for the remainder of the season, after only two entries for this weekend’s season-opener on the streets of St. Pete.
The class, which has expanded eligibility to Ferrari 458 Challenge and Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo cars this year after two seasons exclusively with Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machinery, has seen three of its 2016 drivers go in different directions.
Reigning class champion Alec Udell has stepped up to GTA competition, while Corey Fergus has switched to the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA series, and 2016 runner-up Sloan Urry still yet to put together a program.
It’s left just Preston Calvert, in a one-off entry with his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, and a Ferrari Challenge car of Serbian Marko Radisic in the GT Cup class this weekend.
“I think it will increase,” Morgan told Sportscar365. “We’ve adjusted our numbers internally moving forward. You’ll definitely see that get higher.”
Morgan believes the slump in entries at St. Pete could be attributed to the proximity of next weekend’s IMSA GT3 Challenge race at Sebring as well as the tendency of some gentlemen drivers electing to skip often-treacherous street races.
While GT Cup cars are not in action at the next GT/GTA round at Long Beach, the class will return for Virginia International Raceway, as part of the first SprintX weekend of the year.
“When you look at the rising costs of GT3 racing, I think GT Cup is a great stepping stone and a natural step up,” Morgan said.
“There’s so many of those cars in the country now, whether it’d be the Ferrari or Lamborghinis, I like it a lot. I think with the schedules and the way things work, a lot of teams and drivers can double dip.”
Morgan wouldn’t be drawn on a target car count for the class moving forward but it’s understood up to a half-dozen cars could be on the grid later this year, supplementing the GT3-spec cars in both Sprint and SprintX competition.
PWC’s GTA class featured a similar slump last year, with eventual champion Martin Fuentes running virtually unopposed in the opening rounds, before additional cars arrived later in the year.
GTA has rebounded to a nine-car entry this weekend, including several high-profile additions.
Morgan confirmed only Gen-1 991-based Porsche Cup cars are allowed this year, with the new Gen-2 car, set to debut in Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and the two single-make IMSA series, becoming eligible in GT Cup in 2018.