The 2016 World Challenge season was the twenty-seventh consecutive year for the series. There were eleven race weekends – the series kicked-off in March at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) and ended at Laguna Seca in early October.

The vehicle classes were the same as the previous year:

  • Grand Touring (GT) – This is the series quickest class and is predominantly cars competing in the FIA GT3 category. Examples of vehicles racing in this class include: Porsche 911 GT3 R, Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, McLaren 650S GT3, Cadillac ATS-V.R GT3 and Ferrari 488 GT3.
  • Grand Touring Sportsman (GTA) – This class includes the same vehicles as GT, however, the drivers are not considered professionals. Competitors in this category are evaluated after each event and based on their performance may be elevated to the GT class.
  • GT Cup – This is a spec class for 2015-2016 Porsche 991 GT Cup cars.
  • Grand Touring Sport (GTS) – The cars in this class are similar to the GT vehicles but have more preparation restrictions. In previous years, this class was mainly comprised of Ford, Chevrolet and Porsche products. In 2016, the GTS category witnessed the appearance of a number of new vehicles which proved to be very competitive - KTM X-Box GT4, Ginetta G55 GT4 and SIN R1 GT4.
  • Touring Car (TC) – This class is for smaller sedans and sports cars which are allowed some performance modifications. Examples of vehicles competing in this category include: Honda Accord, Kia Forte, Mazda MX-5 and Porsche Boxster.
  • Touring Car A (TCA) – Many of the cars competing in this class are the same as those found in Touring Car. What sets them apart are the minimum amount of modifications that can be made – most changes are to improve the safety of the vehicles.
  • Touring Car B (TCB) - The slowest of all the World Challenge categories is based on the Sports Car Club of America’s B-Spec class. Examples of vehicles competing in this class include: Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, Kia Rio, Mazda 2 and Mini Cooper.

    Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosted the final rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge Championship. The GT class at the Grand Prix of Monterey presented by Nissan had a total of twenty-eight starters (GT – 16, GTA – 9, GT Cup - 3). Drivers would compete in two forty-minute races around the eleven-turn 2.238-mile road course. The focus was on the GT class as there were four drivers with a chance of winning the title - the GTA and GT Cup championships had been settled.

  • Twenty-eight cars head into Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s turn two. A tight field follows pole-sitter Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac. Beside him and up from sixth is the K-PAX McLaren of GT point’s leader Alvaro Parente. They are followed by second and fourth fastest qualifiers Patrick Long and Jon Fogarty.
    Four drivers were in the running for the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GT Driver’s Championship but mostly likely it would be decided between Patrick Long and Alvaro Parente piloting the No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3. Parente started the race from the sixth grid position, behind the other drivers in contention for the title. He found himself in third on the last lap but an incident between Long and pole-sitter Johnny O’Connell gave him the win and championship.
    Four-time and defending GT Driver’s Champion, Johnny O’Connell had an outside chance of collecting another title. It appeared that O’Connell was making all the right moves. It began with him winning the pole position and leading all twenty-seven laps to take the victory. However, he was penalized 2.1-seconds for contact at turn five with Patrick Long on the last - this dropped O’Connell to fifth.
    2015 Touring Car Driver’s Champion, Corey Fergus moved up to the GT Cup division in 2016. It was a character building year for Fergus which included many DNFs – he did not earn his first podium finish until round five at Barber Motorsports Park. It appeared that the final event would be much of the same as the team lost an engine on the test day. However, a replacement was found and Fergus started from the pole and led every lap to score his first GT Cup victory.
    It was a good thing that Mexican Martin Fuentes won the 2016 GTA Driver’s Championship before the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Fuentes began the weekend by being quickest in the first practice session and more importantly qualifying. Unfortunately, it all went wrong for the GTA pole-sitter in the race. On the first lap in turn three, he made contact with another competitor which forced him to retire.
    Factory Porsche driver Patrick Long won his first World Challenge Championship in 2011. Until turn five on the last lap of the race, it appeared that he would win his second Driver’s title. Entering the corner, the Cadillac of race leader, Johnny O’Connell slowed allowing Long to draw alongside. O’Connell moved over and made contact with Long. Long’s momentum was lost and he was passed by three cars and finished fourth losing the title to Parente.
    Better late than never – Corey Fergus earned his first GT Cup Pirelli World Challenge victory in the final event of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Fergus started Saturday’s event from the class pole and led every lap. In the process, he earned the VP Racing Fuels Hard Charger Award. To his right is runner-up, Sloan Urry who finished second in the Driver’s Championship. The final spot on the podium is occupied by Chris Thompson.
    Bryan Heitkotter driving the No. 05 AE Replay XD Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R GT3 scored his first two Pirelli World Challenge victories in rounds sixteen and seventeen at the Utah Motorsports Campus. At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Heitkotter started from the ninth grid position but had moved to fifth by the final lap. The incident between Long and O’Connell elevated him to a third place finish.
    Andrew Kim joined the GTA class at Sonoma Raceway and made his presence felt with a second place finish. Competing in the No. 78 Bentley Continental GT3 he started third among the GTA category cars. Kim moved to third in class on the first lap following the retirement of Martin Fuentes. Later in the race, he was passed by the Porsche of Tim Pappas but when Michael Schein had an off track excursion, he captured the final spot on the podium.
    Tim Pappas started twenty-first overall and fifth in the GTA category. The driver of the Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R moved to fourth in class with the retirement of Martin Fuentes and to third when he passed the Bentley Continental GT3 of Andrew Kim. The demise of Michael Schein on the final lap gave Pappas the runner-up spot in GTA.
    Michael Schein qualified second in GTA driving a Porsche 911 GT3 R prepared by Wright Motorsports. When the 2016 class champion Martin Fuentes retired on the first lap, Schein took over the lead. He maintained first place until the last lap until he a tangled with one of the GT class Acuras. The incident dropped Schein down the order and he was credited with a sixth place finish in GTA.
    The No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R. GT3 was raced by Michael Cooper. Cooper had two Pirelli World Challenge Driver Championships – 2012 Touring Car and 2015 GTS. Cooper entered the season finale tied with his teammate, O’Connell, and had an outside chance of winning the championship if Long or Parente faltered. After the last lap drama was sorted out, Cooper finished second and was third in the final standings.
    Benefitting from the misfortunes of Martin Fuentes and Michael Schein was Cooper McNeil. McNeil left the IMSA series and joined the Pirelli World Challenge Championship in the penultimate round at Sonoma Raceway. He inherited the GTA lead and win, in his Alex Job Racing prepared Porsche 991 GT3 R, on the last lap when Schein and another competitor made contact.

    11GTAlvaro ParenteK-PAX Racing / McLaren 650S GT327
    22GTMichael CooperCadillac Racing / Cadillac ATS-V.R. GT327
    33GTBryan HeitkotterNissan GT Academy / Nissan GTR27
    44GTPatrick LongWright Motorsports / Porsche 911 GT3 R27
    55GTJohnny O'ConnellCadillac Racing / Cadillac ATS-V.R. GT327
    66GTJon FogartyGainsco/Bob Stallings Racing / McLaren 650S GT327
    77GTJ.D. DavisonNissan GT Academy / Nissan GTR27
    88GTGunnar JeannetteAlex Job Racing / Porsche 991 GT3R27
    99GTSpencer PumpelleyRealTime Racing / Acura TLX-GT27
    1010GTRyan EversleyRealTime Racing / Acura TLX-GT27
    1111GTMichael LewisCalvert /Curb-Agajanian / Porsche 911 GT3 R27
    121GTACooper MacNeilAlex Job Racing / Porsche 991 GT3R27
    132GTATim PappasBlack Swan Racing / Porsche 911 GT3 R27
    143GTAAndrew KimBentley Team Absolute / Bentley Continental GT327
    154GTAAndy WilzochFlying Lizard Motorsports / Porsche GT3R27
    165GTABrent HoldenGMG Racing / Porsche 911 GT3 R27
    171GT CupCorey FergusMotorsports Promotions / Porsche 911 GT3 Cup27
    182GT CupSloan UrryTruSpeed Autosport / Porsche 911 GT3 Cup27
    196GTAMichael ScheinWright Motorsports / Porsche 911 GT3 R27
    2018GTAustin CindricK-PAX Racing / McLaren 650S GT327
    2119GTColin ThompsonK-PAX Racing / McLaren 650S GT326
    223GT CupChris ThompsonGMG Racing / Porsche 911 GT3 Cup26
    237GTAJorge De La TorreDe La Torre Racing / Aston Martin Vantage GT325
    248GTADrew RegitzStephen Cameron Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT321
    2522GTFabian HamprechtBentley Team Absolute / Bentley Continental GT39
    2623GTKyle MarcelliCRP Racing / Audi R8 LMS GT31
    27-GTMike SkeenLone Star Racing / Dodge Viper GT3-R0
    28-GTMartin FuentesScuderia Corsa / Ferrari 458 Italia GT30
    29-GTJonathan SummertonDIME Racing / Mercedes AMG SLS GT30

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