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.