SportsCar series will provide more excitement in the 2014 season. (Photo: Brian Cleary/bcpix.com)

Sports car racing will provide more excitement in the 2014 season. (Photo: Brian Cleary/bcpix.com)

5. The Rise of World Challenge: With the two major North American sports car series now becoming one, 2014 could be the year of opportunity for the Pirelli World Challenge. The SCCA-sanctioned series will, for the first time, allow full GT3-spec cars, which has already gained a considerable amount of interest from new teams and drivers to the sprint-race championship. Look for a number of GT3 models to make their U.S. debuts next year, including the McLaren MP4-12C and Lamborghini Gallardo.

4. New LMP1 Regulations: A new era in prototype racing begins next year with the introduction of a fresh set of LMP1 regulations, which could transform racing as we know it. Top-line prototypes from Audi, Toyota, Porsche, as well as privateer entries, will compete under a new energy allocation ruleset, where a set amount of fuel is allowed to be used per lap. All factory teams must run at least one energy recovery system, while there are no restrictions on the size of an internal combustion engine. These technological advancements will no doubt be fascinating to watch over the course of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.

3. Nissan’s Electric Prototype: History is set to be made at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year when Nissan rolls out with its ZEOD RC, in a bid to become the first car to lap the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe entirely on electric power in the race. The ambitious project will occupy “Garage 56” in the twice-around-the-clock French endurance classic, following in the footsteps of the Japanese manufacturer’s involvement with the DeltaWing, which took the start in 2012.

2. Porsche’s 919 Hybrid LMP1: After more than 15 years away, Porsche makes its return to top-flight prototype racing at Le Mans with its new 919 Hybrid, which will compete head-to-head with Audi and Toyota for overall honors in the 24-hour enduro and the FIA WEC. The German manufacturer will bring out star power in the form of Formula One ace Mark Webber, who joins Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Brendon Hartley and Marc Lieb as drivers.

1. Launch of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship: January’s will kick off the start of a new era, with a unified North American sports car series that’s filled with much promise and potential. Announced last September, parties from both GRAND-AM and ALMS have worked the better part of 15 months to form the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which features the best of both worlds from the former championships. The entire motorsports world will be watching with interest to see how the new series evolves over the coming months and years.