The Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) series opened at Circuit of the Americas on March 4-6.

Pirelli introduced a new specification slick for the GT category, marking an exciting change for North American racing by aligning it to the same specification used globally at the Blancpain GT Series (Endurance and Sprint Cups), British GT Championship, ADAC GT Master, GT Italiano, GT Sports Club and Macao FIA GT Championship.  This same specification was used at Bathurst where a Pirelli shod McLaren won the overall position and set the lap record.

“We’re excited about the PWC 2016 season and the new specification. It demonstrates our global commitment to commercial motorsports.  We’re growing the series into the best performance racing possible in North America, through our unrivalled motorsports DNA, premium tire technology and close partnership with teams and PWC,” said Rafael Navarro, Senior VP of Media Relations, Motorsport & Prestige Activation for Pirelli Tire North America.

“The Pirelli World Challenge is at the very heart of our brand and what we are about as a company: the enjoyment of driving the world’s most prestigious cars at the best-known motorsport circuits. Pirelli’s tire technology in PWC derives from Formula 1, underlining our unique world leader status in UHP products,” adds Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director.

This year, PWC will offer exciting changes with the new Sprint-X Championship category (extended sprint format of one hour races with two drivers per car and mandatory pit stops). Notable team updates include DIME Racing’s Mercedes AMG GT3, GMG Racing’s new Porsche 911 GT3 R entry in GT, Nissan’s two factory-backed Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 and James Davison and Byran Heitkotter to pilot Always Evolving/AIM Autosport. McLaren has four entries: three in K-PAX (Alvaro Parente, 2015 GT Champion Colin Thompson and 17 year-old Austin Cindric) and four-time driving champion Jon Fogarty in the GAINSCO Car.

Driving stars to watch this season include four-time GT champion Johnny O’Connell in a new Velocity Red Cadillac beside new teammate and GTS champion Michael Cooper. Patrick Long (2011 GT Champion) returns in the EFFORT Porsche teamed with young star Michael Lewis.

2016 marks the 27th season of the Pirelli World Challenge. The season consists of 11 race weekends on well-known tracks throughout the US & Canada, including Monterey, St.Petersburg, Long Beach and Bowmanville, Ontario. PWC races will be broadcast on CBS Sports will broadcast PWC races and also do a live broadcast of the PWC Long Beach race weekend on 15-17 April.