BTCC 2011 – questionable

The live coverage of the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) from Croft came with some extra information today.

Proposals for 2011:

  • 2 litre turbocharged petrol engines, using a standardised turbo
  • front wheel drive, rear wheel drive not an option
  • Larger, family size cars
  • Use of a standardised set of components in many areas of the car

The proposals have met with general acceptance from the pit-lane, and will presumably reduce many options for developing very expensive specialised parts, and engines that will last an entire season.

While it looks good, in so far as the aim of cost reduction is likely, and there should be less chances for infringing the rules with some degree of standardisation, I can’t help but feel there is a word missing.

If I think for a moment…

Ah…

The one that possibly surprised a few people as the cars now perform so well – the placement of a diesel engine in the series.

Where is it?

Why is there no up-front (at least not in any of the articles or reports I’ve seen) tale of its absence?

What else could they do?

One of the things I might, and I only say might, like to see is the removal of all the aspects of touring cars that allows them to be little more than bodyshells that look like the road cars they are derived from. Instead of throwing away all the original components of the donor vehicle, why not make the teams use all the running gear from the road car, with only safety or durability options allowed?

Allow all the most durable and high performance parts from the maker’s parts bins to be used, plus things like roll-cages and repositioning of things like driver’s seats, but nothing exotic that can’t be bought for road use.

Sounds like the old days of homologation to me, and would that be a bad thing if it came back? After all, that where all the best racing formats were born, but have developed into the hyper-expensive formats we have today, which are criticised for not having any track action or overtaiking. Why? Because the cars are all going to fast, can accelerate and brake so fast, the result is the tracks are too small and narrow – by comparison with the days when they hosted exciting races.

I remember the original days of the BTCC when it came to my deserted corner of the country. The cars possibly weren’t that faster than the best of their road-going brethren at the time, but the mods to the suspension, and the use of racing tyres meant they could leave their ordinary version standing. The drivers did a demo race one year, round the track in both the racing and road version of the cars. The difference was most apparent on the corners. The track cars just turned in and raced out of the corners, especially the hairping. The road cars however, were left for dead at these places. Although the engines produced plenty of power, they couldn’t get it down, and instead of powering out of the corners after their well-shod relatives, just spun their tyres in clouds of white smoke – as they should, most were front wheel drive with over 150 bhp being fed to road tyres.

I know the BTCC would laugh at any of these suggestions, they would never go back.

But maybe there’s an opening for someone with a few million to spare, and the desire to start an interesting track racing series based on road going cars. It might be what’s needed in “The Recession”, rather than tinkering with things as they are.

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