British Touring Car Championship

BTCC adds soft tyre gimmick


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    Keith Collantine

    If ever there was a championship that needed to tone down the gimmicks it’s the BTCC, with its unnecessary success ballast and horrible random reverse grids.

    But they’re gong in the opposite direction with a new rule which will require each driver to use a softer tyre compound in one of the three races each weekend. Details here:

    The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has introduced a significant change to its tyre regulations for 2013.

    At nine of the championship’s ten events (the exception being Thruxton), drivers in NGTC specification cars will have one set of a new ‘soft compound’ Dunlop tyre at their disposal, which will offer superior performance to the standard compound tyre.

    These tyres must be used in one of the three races at each event and drivers must nominate, prior to the qualifying session, which particular race they elect to use them in. However they cannot be used for qualifying.

    Other teams/drivers won’t know in which race their competitors have chosen to use the soft compound tyres until the cars go to the grid; the tyres will have a special marking to make them easily identifiable for rivals as well as trackside spectators and TV audiences.

    BTCC Series Director Alan Gow commented: “This set of softer compound tyres is part of each driver’s normal 16 per-meeting Dunlop tyre allocation, so there is no increase in the amount of tyres used. The real twist is that prior to qualifying they must nominate the actual race in which they are going to use them the next day – in that way they won’t be able to use them to merely make up for a poor qualifying or race performance, for example.

    “It’s sure to provide some fascinating race-day strategies, as each team won’t know what their opposition are doing until they head out onto the grid.

    “All our teams enthusiastically supported this new regulation at a recent meeting and I’m sure the spectators will love this new element. I’d like to thank Dunlop for its technical expertise in helping to add yet another exciting dimension to our races.”

    If the race in which the driver has elected to use the ‘softs’ is wet, they must use them in the next available dry race on that same day. There is no carry-over or accumulation to the next race meeting if not used; it is strictly limited to one set of soft-compound tyres per car, for one race per race weekend.

    Also from 2013, cars may only use a full matching set of tyres when on track and will not be permitted to run a mixture of slick and wet tyres.



    I used to argue that touring car racing is an ‘impure’ form of motorsport (as opposed to single seaters) and so lends itself more to measures intended to artifically add excitement, but the BTCC passed my ability to defend it a long time ago with the driving standards as they are, as well as the above mentioned gimmicks.

    I’ll just dig out my old VHS’ from the 90’s.


    Keith Collantine

    The sad thing is how they’ve convinced themselves they need all these things when they don’t. The racing is perfectly good at the beginning of the year before they get into the success ballasting, they’re able to use the boost restrictions to even out the performance, and watching someone pull a ball out of a hat at random to decide how the grid is made up is an excruciatingly embarrassing spectacle.



    So next year it’ll be a case of whichever front-runner is on the soft tyres for any given race will end up winning? Eh. I don’t really get it. Touring car racing, like GT’s, can be so good without the need for all these gimmicks. It lends itself to close and exciting racing based on mechanical grip and bodywork that can take knocks without needing anything artificial.



    Oh dear, I can’t say this is something I’m excited about. Touring cars don’t need gimmicks like option tyres, all they need is equal machinery and a bit of paint swapping. So now the fans will have to keep an eye on who is on which tyre as well as everything else, is it looking like Alan Gow should step down?

    Regarding the boost regulations, I would much prefer the WTCC system of ballast added to the best cars rather than success ballast AND boost reduction as in the BTCC.



    A new regulation which is actually needed has been announced, when a driver incurs three penalties in a season for driving misdemeanours, they will be dropped six places on the grid. This is an addition to existing penalties, so there really is no excuse for dangerous driving and especially shoving people off the track. I’m talking to you, Mr Plato.



    I think reversed grids are needed in multi race meeting formats.

    I do like the ball out a pot method as it does take out the annoying habit that J Plato & a few others did started of dropping down the order at the end of a race to finish 8th or 10th to get the reverse pole.

    However I do understand how others can see it as a gimmick as randomness is not something that adds itself to motorsport very well.

    Maybe a reverse of x number of top qualifiers (8 or 10) should be used to reverse the grid for race 3?

    I think success ballast is a better way of keeping some form of parity instead the dreadful boost restriction formula that is always open to the irritating arguments and snide remarks in the paddock. At least with ballast there can be no arguing about whether it is fair or not.

    Onto the soft tyre rule….. totally pointless


    Prisoner Monkeys

    If ever there was a championship that needed to tone down the gimmicks it’s the BTCC, with its unnecessary success ballast and horrible random reverse grids.

    But they’re gong in the opposite direction with a new rule which will require each driver to use a softer tyre compound in one of the three races each weekend.

    Just wait until they start meddling with the event formats. Then you’ll know what we go through in Australia with the V8 Supercars.



    The problem with reversing a set number of qualifiers is that some drivers will try to finish in the position that will give them the reverse grid pole rather than setting their best time, the WTCC fixed this by having points in qualifying which equally isn’t great. The BTCC random number system is a lot better, even if some people don’t like it.

    The other problem with having a set number of cars reversed on the grid is that drivers will have to start in the same place for each race, so a bad qualifying will impact on three races as opposed to one race as of now. A DNF as a result of a mistake wouldn’t be as punishing as it is now, if you start the first race third and crash you’ll start third for the second race rather than near the back as the current system would have it. Reversing a set number of positions just wouldn’t work on a three race meeting format.



    Why don’t they just start the race in the order in which they qualified. Then they race to the flag and whoever crosses it first is the winner.

    No ballast, no boost restrictions, no reversed grids, no magic tyres, just a bunch of drivers in a bunch of racing cars having a race. It’s not bloody rocket science is it?

    Motorsport managed to survive the best part of a century without having to add all this WWE nonsense to keep the fans from falling asleep. This kind of nonsense is an insult to any true motorsports fan.


    Keith Collantine

    It seems Shedden shares our doubts over the soft tyre rule, and the tweaks to the boost levels:

    “I think a lot of people will use the soft set in the same race so it won’t make any difference.”



    Good for him, time will show how terrible these rules changes will be. My guess is everyone will use the soft tyres in the third race when the midfield drivers will take a gamble for the reversed grid.



    I actually really like the success ballast rule.
    It’s a very good idea, as the cars are quite different in terms of performance, and most importantly, it works.



    MG boss Ian Harrison has come out in support of the rule changes saying the turbo boost changes is the right thing to do. Of course he would say that wouldn’t he, if there hadn’t been boost changes would Plato have been as close in the championship to the Honda duo?



    From the interviews I saw of Ian Harrison I really dislike that bloke. too smarmy and smug.

    I hope MG suffer next year.
    At least they know not to tempt it at Thruxton

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