For the past few years, driver rankings have played a fairly important role in determining who could get rides. More than one contract has been voided because of a ranking change rendering someone ineligible for a ride.
On Wednesday, WC Vision announced the driver ranking breakdown for the GT classes and the expanded Sprint-X category for the 2017 season. For 2017, there will still be separate races for the GT/GTA classes and the GTS Class, but only for the five sprint race weekends on the schedule. In those sprint races, the GTS class will be split into Professional and Amateur divisions similar to GT. The five standalone race weekends will have the GT and GTS teams combined into Sprint-X races. There will be two races on each Sprint-X weekend.
In the sprint weekends, drivers classified as Platinum, Gold or Silver will run in the Professional division. The Amateur division will be populated with mostly bronze drivers. Silver-rated drivers can apply to race in the Amateur division, but their eligibility will be determined by the Pirelli World Challenge Competition Board.
For GTS, Platinum-rated drivers are not allowed to race in the class. The Professional division will consist of Gold and Silver-rated drivers. The amateur division will consist solely of Bronze-rated drivers.
In the five Sprint-X races scheduled for 2017 (the standalone weekends where Pirelli World Challenge is not supporting INDYCAR), the eligible lineups get more complicated due to two drivers racing each car. In the GT ranks, Pro-Pro, Pro-Am and Am-Am lineups are all considered legal. Here, in all cases, amateurs have Bronze ratings. Pro-Pro lineups can have any combination of Platnium, Gold or Silver drivers. Pro-Am lineups are not allowed to have a Platinum-rated driver as the Professional. As a result, those lineups would be a Bronze driver and either a Silver or Gold-rated driver. Am-Am lineups would consist of two Bronze-rated drivers.
For GTS, Sprint-X regulations call for a Pro-Am or Am-Am driver lineup. Same rules apply for Pro-Am lineups as in GT. Also, there is no listed minimum drive time for Professionals, but there is a minimum drive time of 60 seconds for Amateur drivers in order to score points. In practice, the existing rules that open the pits for only ten minutes per race and the minimum pit time will pretty much necessitate only one stop.
Sprint-X debuted back in May at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park as an additional class in the race weekend. It lengthens the normal 50 minute GT/GTA/GT Cup and GTS class races from 50 minutes to 60 minutes, but adds in a mandatory pit stop with a driver change. In an attempt to cut costs, teams must remain in the pit lane for a certain amount of time that differs from track to track based on a number of factors (including length of the pit lane).