What is the future of touring car racing?

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    Profile photo of robk23

    Recently we’ve seen big changes in the world of touring cars with new regulations, some series struggling and new ones being formed. One of the most important factors of touring car racing is the cost with most teams having to run to an incredibly tight budget with substandard machinery. Efforts have been made to change this but who got it right?

    With the World Touring Car Championship being the top level in touring cars, most series tend to follow their regulations. The current technical regulations demand FIA S2000 cars fitted with 1.6l turbocharged engine designed to reduce costs and the environmental impact. It can’t be ignored that S2000 regulations are ‘getting on a bit’ now, having been with us since 2000 and running these cars is becoming increasingly expensive.

    It was the increasing cost of S2000 cars which led TOCA to develop the NGTC regulations in 2010. They claimed they could reduce the maximum cost of a car (minus engine) to £100,000 although the cost of running and developing these cars has pushed the cost of NGTC drives up considerably to around £250k for a full season in mid to back of the grid car, a season in a front running car costs around £300k. Around 70% of the NGTC chassis are identical with each part having to be sourced from a supplier nominated by TOCA. There is an issue regarding the 2.0l turbocharged engines which doesn’t seem to get a mention much. In a time when many road cars are fitted with engines ranging from 0.8-1.8 litres, a 2.0 litre engine is not exactly relevant to current technology and many car manufacturers don’t even offer 2.0 engines in their range; a 2.0 is not available in the MG6 or 9th-generation Honda Civic interestingly.

    There’s also a third way to go, that option is silhouette racing. Involving producing a standard chassis often with a standard engine or other mechanical components, the idea is to produce an affordable and competitive racing series. The only difference between the cars is the bodywork, although the DTM does allow a bit more than that. The new TTA championship in Scandinavia used a standard chassis fitted with a Nissan V6 engine with individual bodies placed over the top, so far a Volvo V60 and Citroen C5 have been produced. The problem for me is that the TTA and DTM championships resemble saloon based GT series, use large V6 or V8 engines which are not road relevant to the bodies they’re placed in and the DTM is controlled top down by the manufacturers, is this really touring car racing?

    The way I see it, the future touring car regulations should involve a certain amount of standard components to reduce development costs, a small road relevant engine and most importantly be designed with independent teams in mind. The cars should be able to be used in multiple championships as the way things are heading right now, individual championships are getting isolated and that bumps up the cost of competition.

    Profile photo of Keith Collantine
    Keith Collantine

    I’m with you on standardisation. I’ve been very impressed with the approach the BTCC has taken with the NGTC rules – it seems forward-thinking and you can’t fault the range of different cars competing there now.

    You make an interesting point about engine capacity though – I hadn’t considered that before – particularly a time when Ford have just brought out a 1-litre version of the Focus!

    Profile photo of Fer no.65
    Fer no.65

    Touring car racing is taking the same route as Rallying… the whole thing is going down for me.

    now we’ll be watching a fricking Corolla with a Radical V8 in Argentina… what the heck is that all about?

    Profile photo of Prisoner Monkeys
    Prisoner Monkeys

    There’s also a third way to go, that option is silhouette racing. Involving producing a standard chassis often with a standard engine or other mechanical components, the idea is to produce an affordable and competitive racing series. The only difference between the cars is the bodywork, although the DTM does allow a bit more than that.

    V8 Supercars is doing this from 2013. It’s called “Car of the Future”, and it basically involves identifying all of the parts of the car that are only found on racing cars and making them control parts. Teams and manufacturers are free to develop any parts of the car that are found on both racing and road-going cars, though this is mostly limited to engine development and the bodyshell. The idea is to make the series more competitive whilst pushing the deciding factor in a car’s success onto the parts that it has in common with its road-going counterpart. I think it’s quite a clever way of doing things because it cuts costs down, makes the field more competitive, and brings forward the connection between the racing and road-going models.

    Profile photo of sato113

    hopefully it’ll not be like 2001 BTCC. only a handful of cars racing. chavvy boy racer cars too.

    whilst talking about 2001 btcc, can someone explain to me the two different grids at the start of this video?!

    Profile photo of robk23

    @sato113 The front grid is the old Touring Class (BTC-T) and the second grid is the Production Class (BTC-P). I had no idea they were started separately?

    Profile photo of MuzzleFlash

    @sato113 @robk23 Yes it’s because of two separate classes racing, I think at the start of the season they started together but eventually decided it was better to delay the production class (which I believe were Group N cars) It was such a weird season, I think I remember the BTC-T cars had to make a compulsory pit stop while the BTC-P’s didn’t (because they didn’t have the single center wheel nut). Which meant they often finished higher up than their performance would have you guess. The reason for two classes in the first place was that the BTCC lost about 6 manufacturers (12 cars) in two years because the Supertourers had gotten a bit out of hand and were costing in the region of £5M a year to run.

    As for the future? Independent teams with varying levels of manufacturer support, the BTCC seems to be going the right way about it. The WTCC the complete wrong way, they seem to want manufacturer entries, but if half a dozen manufacturers jump in they’ll have a sport better supported than F1 with a fraction of the viewers. I’m not a fan of silhouette racing on a technical level but one can’t argue with the results and I quite like what the V8SC will be doing. Road relevance should always be a factor in touring car racing.

    Profile photo of ajokay

    I’d say the BTCC was incredibly healthy at the moment and can’t wait to see how the new season turns out, especially with more and more teams running the NGTC chassis and engines.

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