British Touring Car Championship


British Touring Car Championship
British Touring Car Championship
Btcc logo.PNG
Category Touring cars
Country or region United Kingdom United Kingdom
Inaugural season 1958
Drivers 34 (2011)
Teams 18 (2011)
Constructors 10 (2011)
Drivers' champion United Kingdom Matt Neal
Teams' champion Japan Honda Racing Team
Makes' champion Japan Honda
Official website btcc.net/
Motorsport current event.svg Current season

The British Touring Car Championship is a touring car racing series held each year in the United Kingdom. The Championship was established in 1958 as the British Saloon Car Championship and has run to various rules over the years – "production cars", then FIA Group 1 or 2 in the late 1960s and 1970s, and then Group A in the 1980s, when in 1987, the series took on its current name. (A lower-key Group N series for production cars ran for most of the 1990s).

The championship was initially run with a mix of classes, divided according to engine capacity, racing simultaneously. This often meant that a driver who chose the right class could win the overall championship without any chance of overall race wins, thereby devaluing the title for the spectators – for example, in the 1980s Chris Hodgetts won two overall titles in a small Toyota Corolla prepared by Hughes Of Beaconsfield, at that time a Mercedes-Benz/Toyota main dealer when most of the race wins were going to much larger cars; and while the Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500s were playing at the front of the field, Frank Sytner took a title in a Class B BMW M3 and John Cleland's first title was won in a small Class C Vauxhall Astra.

After the domination (and expense) of the Ford Sierra Cosworth in the late 1980s, the BTCC was the first to introduce a 2.0 L formula, in 1990, which later became the template for the Supertouring class that exploded throughout Europe. The BTCC continued to race with Supertouring until 2000 and for 2001 adopted its own BTC Touring rules. However the Super 2000 rules have now been observed for the overall championship since the 2007 season. The 2000s have seen cheaper cars than the later Supertouring era, with fewer factory teams and fewer international drivers.

In 2009, the BTCC released details of its Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) specification, to be introduced from 2011. The introduction of these new technical regulations were designed to dramatically reduce the design, build and running costs of the cars and engines as well as reducing the potential for significant performance disparities between cars. The NGTC specification also aimed to cut costs by reducing reliance on WTCC/S2000 equipment, due to increasing costs/complexity and concerns as to its future sustainability and direction[1]

Contents

Type of cars

2006 BTCC Race at Brands Hatch

Currently, the cars used are a mix of 2.0 L saloons (sedans) such as the BMW 320si E90 and Chevrolet Cruze and hatchback cars such as the Honda Civic and Ford focus, based on models from a variety of manufacturers, using Super 2000 regulations matching those of the World Touring Car Championship. The series launched its own BTC Touring specification for 2001, a year before the WTCC began in its current form, however car counts were low. Super 2000 cars were allowed to enter from 2004 to encourage cars to be built for both championships, and became the only cars eligible to win the main title - although several independent teams still run BTC Touring-spec cars.

BTCC teams are a mixture of "works" teams from manufacturers (currently Honda and Chevrolet) and independent teams such as Team RAC, 888, and Motorbase. However, in 2010 there were two new works teams, following Vauxhall's decision to pull out of the series: Chevrolet, run by RML; and Honda, run by Team Dynamics.[2] In 2005, Team Dynamics became the first independent outfit to win the BTCC drivers and team championships; Matt Neal won the overall and independent drivers contests in his Team Dynamics Honda Integra. This included finishing all 30 championship races that year, something no other driver has achieved before or since. This ended Vauxhall's run of 4 victories in the drivers and teams championships between 2001 and 2004. Neal and Dynamics were also victorious in 2006, before Vauxhall won the 2007 title with Italian Fabrizio Giovanardi. Team Dynamics also achieved the first overall independents race win in the 'Supertouring' era when Neal won a round of the 1999 BTCC at Donington park, earning the team prize-money of £250,000. As a result of Matt Neal's championship victories, and the fact that Team Dynamics were designing and building their own S2000 Honda Civic Type R(with unofficial support from Honda), they were no longer entered into the Independents category, and were classed as neither an "independent" or "works" team until the 2009 season, when the Manufactures championship was renamed Manufactures/Constructors Championship to allow both Team Aon and Team Dynamics to compete with the now sole works entry of Vauxhall.

There are strict limits to the modifications which can be made to the cars, which are intended to reduce the cost of running a competitive team, which had become prohibitive in the final years of the Super Touring rules. These cost reductions have seen a rise in independent entries – teams or individuals entering cars purchased from the manufacturer teams when they update their chassis. These so called "ex-works" cars have enjoyed some success. To further keep costs in check, the BTCC uses a "control tyre", with Dunlop the current supplier of rubber to all the teams.

The rules have allowed for a variety of different fuels in a bid to encourage more efficient cars but by 2011 only petrol was allowed. In 2004 Mardi Gras Motorsport independently entered a Liquified petroleum gas powered Super 2000 Honda Civic Type-R (which was subsequently replaced by a more competitive BTC-Touring Peugeot 406 Coupé, still LPG powered), and in 2005 Tech-Speed Motorsport converted an ex-works Vauxhall Astra Coupé to run on bio-ethanol fuel. In the middle of 2006, Kartworld's owner-driver Jason Hughes converted his 4 cylinder MG ZS to run on Bio-Ethanol, soon followed by the West Surrey Racing cars of championship contender Colin Turkington and Rob Collard, and for the final event at Silverstone, Richard Marsh converted his Peugeot 307 to run on bio-ethanol fuel. Only Hughes continued on this fuel in 2007 and 2008.

The regulations also permited cars to run on diesel; attempted first in the 2007 season by Rick Kerry in a BMW 120d E87 run by Team AFM Racing . In 2008 SEAT Sport UK entered two Turbo Diesel Power SEAT Leons - the first diesel powered manufacturer entered cars. The clear advantage of turbo-diesel engines lead to them being banned for 2009.

At the start of the 2010 season it was announced that Team AON racing had converted both of their Ford Focus ST cars to run on LPG. However, LPG followed diesel by being banned for 2011 leaving only petrol powered engines.

Car Regulations

Current Regulations

During the 2011 British Touring Car Championship season, there were three different sets of regulations, which cars have to be built to, eligible to race in the BTCC. There was also a hybrid regulation, S2000/NGTC. where cars were allowed to be built to S2000 regulations but for a NGTC specification engine (with turbo).

Previous Regulations

Over the years the BTCC has used several other regulations which are no longer eligible to race.

  • FIA Group 1 - (Late 1960s to 1970s)
  • FIA Group 2 - (Late 1960s to 1970s)
  • FIA Group A - (1983-1990)
  • BTCC 2 Litre Touring Car Formula later becoming FIA Super Touring - (1990 to 2000)
  • FIA Group N - (1990s)
  • BTC Touring - (2001 to 2011). The BTCC developed and introduced this specification in 2001, in responce to the spiraling costs of the Super Touring specification. However, with the Super 2000 specification being used in the newly reformed World Touring Car Championship, the popularity of the BTC-T spec with top teams and manufactures was short lived. Therefore, from the 2007 season, BTC-T spec cars were no longer allowed to win the championship outright. The 2010 season was meant to be the last year BTC-T cars would be eligible to enter the championship, however Series Director Alan Gow announced a one year extension to allow BTC-T to compete in 2011 (with their base-weight +50 kg on the 2010 season). Only cars that competed in 2010 would be eligible to race in 2011.[3]

Latest season

In 2011, there will be 10 rounds with three races at each round, making it a thirty round competition in total, as in previous seasons. The racetracks used for the 2011 season will be the same as used for the 2010 season, but not in the same order. The first race will be at Brands Hatch.

Race format

Championship contenders Jason Plato (SEAT) and Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall) collide during a BTCC race at Snetterton in July 2007. The BTCC is known for being a high-contact series.[4]

On the Saturday of a race weekend there are two practice sessions followed by a 30-minute qualifying session which determines the starting order for the first race on the Sunday, the fastest driver lining up in pole position.

Each race typically consists of between 16 and 25 laps, depending on the length of the circuit. The result of race one determines the grid order for race two (i.e. the winner starts on pole).

For race three, a wheel is spun to decide at which place the grid is 'reversed'. This means drivers finishing 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th in race two could take pole position for race 3 depending on the outcome of the draw. For example, if the spinning wheel stops at position 7, the driver finishing in 7th position in race two starts on pole, 6th place starts in second place, 5th place starts in third etc. Drivers finishing in 8th place and beyond would start race three in their finishing order for race two. The draw is normally conducted by the winner of race two, unless this driver is competing for the championship at the final meeting.

Previous to 2006, the driver finishing in 10th place in race two took pole position for race three. This initiated deliberate race 'fixing', whereby some drivers attempted to finished in 10th place during race two to gain pole position in race three. This "reverse grid" rule polarised opinion: some fans enjoy the spectacle afforded by having unlikely drivers on pole position while faster ones have to battle through the field; others feel it detracts from the purity of the racing. For example, some drivers might decide to slow down and let others pass them, thereby improving their own starting position for the "reverse grid" race, which is contrary to the spirit of motor racing – which is to try to come first in every race. It also led to some safety concerns as drivers would slow dramatically on the approach to the finish line, with cars behind forced to take evasive action to avoid collecting slower cars ahead. These factors contributed the rule change for the 2006 season.

Points system

Points are awarded to the top ten drivers in each race as follows :

Current BTCC points system
Race  1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th   10th  Pole Position Fastest Lap Lead A Lap
R1 15 12 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1 1 1 1
R2 15 12 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1 1 1
R3 15 12 10 8 6 5 4 3 2 1 1 1
  • No driver may collect more than one "Lead a Lap" point per race no matter how many laps they lead.

Television coverage

In the UK, ITV has covered the series since 2002, with commentary from Ben Edwards and former champion Tim Harvey. In 2006 this included highlights from the first and second race of the day and live coverage of the third and final race. This returned in the second half of 2007, after the first five meetings had been on ITV3 (a digital channel with fewer viewers), with a half-hour late-night highlights show. ITV1 also has a Sunday night show called Motorsport UK, featuring many of the supporting races. In 2008, the races are being screened live on ITV4, along with the support races. ITV1 has a one-hour highlights programme on the Monday night following the race.

Prior to that, the BBC used to screen highlights of every race, from 1988 to 2001. The F1 commentator at the time, Murray Walker used to do the commentary. From 1997, some races were screened live with Charlie Cox joining Murray Walker in the commentary box. After 1997 the commentary team was Charlie Cox and John Watson with Murray Walker dedicating his time to Formula 1.

The series is also screened in other countries. In Australia, Fox Sports Australia have been covering the BTCC championship since 2000. From 2009 the ITV coverage has screened on ONE HD[1]. Speed TV is screening the 2009 season in the USA over the winter.

Motors TV used to show all the races live, including some support races, both in the UK and across Europe.[2] In 2007 Setanta Sports showed all the races live, including the support races, although this did not continue in 2008.

TV Coverage

TV Coverage of 2011 Season
Country TV Network Language Qualifying Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Notes
United Kingdom United Kingdom ITV4 English No Live Live Live 6½ Hours of coverage per meeting (also shows live and delayed coverage of support races)
No
Highlights
1 Hour Highlights Show of all 3 races
ITV4 HD English No Live Live Live High Definition coverage for the 2011 season[5] (HD Simulcast of ITV4)
No
Highlights
ITV Sport Website English Live[6] Live Live Live Live video stream. Highlights available to watch anytime after the race via the Race Archive
ITV Player English No
Highlights
Replays of each highlights programme for 30 days
ITV1 English No
Highlights
1 Hour Highlights Show of all 3 races
ITV1 HD English No
Highlights
1 Hour Highlights Show of all 3 races (HD Simulcast of ITV1)

Live Timing

Live timing for the BTCC and its support races, as well as testing, is provided by Timing Solutions Ltd from their website. This service allows you to follow free practice and qualifying as well as race day action via a timing screen from your computer or mobile phone.

Previous champions

Currently, 5 championships are awarded per season. The overall driver's championship is the driver gaining the most points overall throughout the season. Since 1992, the Independents driver championship has also been awarded to the leading non-manufacturer-backed driver. There are also awards for the best overall team, leading manufacturer and, since 2004, the top independent team. Previous championship titles were awarded to the leading "Production" (or "Class B") driver and team between 2000 and 2003.

Season Overall Independent Production
Drivers' Champion Manufacturers' Champion Teams' Champion Drivers' Champion Teams' Champion Drivers' Champion Teams' Champion
1958 United Kingdom Jack Sears Austin Westminster none
1959 United Kingdom Jeff Uren Ford Zephyr none
1960 United Kingdom Doc Shepherd Austin A40 Farina none
1961 United Kingdom Sir John Whitmore Mini none
1962 Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland John Love Mini none
1963 United Kingdom Jack Sears Lotus Cortina none
1964 United Kingdom Jim Clark Ford Mustang none
1965 United Kingdom Roy Pierpoint Ford Mustang Weybridge Engineering Company
1966 United Kingdom John Fitzpatrick Ford Anglia Team Lotus
1967 Australia Frank Gardner Ford Falcon Sprint Alan Mann Racing
1968 Australia Frank Gardner Ford Escort Alan Mann Racing
1969 Republic of Ireland Alec Poole Mini Cooper S none
1970 United Kingdom Bill McGovern Sunbeam Imp none
1971 United Kingdom Bill McGovern Sunbeam Imp none
1972 United Kingdom Bill McGovern Sunbeam Imp none
1973 Australia Frank Gardner Chevrolet Camaro none
1974 United Kingdom Bernard Unett Hillman Avenger none
1975 United Kingdom Andy Rouse Triumph Dolomite Sprint Broadspeed Team
1976 United Kingdom Bernard Unett Chrysler Avenger none
1977 United Kingdom Bernard Unett Chrysler Avenger none
1978 United Kingdom Richard Longman Mini Patrick Motorsport’s
1979 United Kingdom Richard Longman Mini Patrick Motorsport’s
1980 United Kingdom Win Percy Mazda RX7 none
1981 United Kingdom Win Percy Mazda RX7 none
1982 United Kingdom Win Percy Toyota Corolla none
1983 United Kingdom Andy Rouse Alfa Romeo GTV none
1984 United Kingdom Andy Rouse Rover Vitesse none
1985 United Kingdom Andy Rouse Ford Escort RS1600 none
1986 United Kingdom Chris Hodgetts Toyota Corolla GT none
1987 United Kingdom Chris Hodgetts Toyota Corolla GT none
1988 United Kingdom Frank Sytner BMW M3 none
1989 United Kingdom John Cleland Vauxhall Astra none
1990 United Kingdom Robb Gravett Ford Sierra RS500 none Independent
1991 United Kingdom Will Hoy BMW none Drivers' Champion Teams' Champion
1992 United Kingdom Tim Harvey Vauxhall none United Kingdom James Kaye
1993 Germany Joachim Winkelhock BMW none United Kingdom Matt Neal
1994 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Alfa Romeo none United Kingdom James Kaye
1995 United Kingdom John Cleland Renault Vauxhall Sport United Kingdom Matt Neal
1996 Germany Frank Biela Audi Audi Sport UK United Kingdom Lee Brookes
1997 Switzerland Alain Menu Renault Williams Renault Dealer Racing United Kingdom Robb Gravett
1998 Sweden Rickard Rydell Nissan Vodafone Nissan Racing Norway Tommy Rustad Production
1999 France Laurent Aiello Nissan Vodafone Nissan Racing United Kingdom Matt Neal Drivers' Champion Teams' Champion
2000 Switzerland Alain Menu Ford Ford Team Mondeo United Kingdom Matt Neal United Kingdom Alan Morrison
2001 United Kingdom Jason Plato Vauxhall Vauxhall Motorsport none United Kingdom Simon Harrison GR Motorsport
2002 United Kingdom James Thompson Vauxhall Vauxhall Motorsport United Kingdom Dan Eaves United Kingdom James Kaye Synchro Motorsport
2003 France Yvan Muller Vauxhall VX Racing United Kingdom Rob Collard United Kingdom Luke Hines Barwell Motorsport
2004 United Kingdom James Thompson Vauxhall VX Racing United Kingdom Anthony Reid West Surrey Racing
2005 United Kingdom Matt Neal Vauxhall Team Halfords United Kingdom Matt Neal Team Halfords
2006 United Kingdom Matt Neal SEAT Team Halfords United Kingdom Matt Neal Team Halfords
2008 Italy Fabrizio Giovanardi Vauxhall VX Racing United Kingdom Colin Turkington Team RAC
2009 United Kingdom Colin Turkington Vauxhall VX Racing
United Kingdom  Colin Turkington
Team RAC
2010 United Kingdom Jason Plato Honda Honda Racing Team United Kingdom Tom Chilton Team Aon
2011 United Kingdom Matt Neal Honda Honda Racing Team United Kingdom James Nash Triple 8 Race Engineering

Future: Next Generation Touring Car

In 2009, the BTCC released details of its ‘Next Generation Touring Car’ (NGTC), to be introduced from 2011. The introduction of these new technical regulations were designed to fulfil the following criteria:

  • Dramatically reduce the design, build and running costs of the cars and engines
  • Maintain present levels of performance until 2013, to ensure performance parity with current S2000 cars
  • Reduce the potential for significant performance disparities between cars
  • ‘Future proof’ the regulations by being able to easily modify the various performance parameters
  • Reduce reliance on WTCC/S2000 equipment, due to increasing costs/complexity and concerns as to its future sustainability/direction[1]

The NGTC engine had its first run in February 2010, during testing for the 2010 season. Pirtek Racing's Vauxhall Vectra was fitted with the engine, which performed well during a week's testing at Snetterton.[8] For the 2010 BTCC Season the NGTC engine will be used by both Pirtek Racing and Pinkney Motorsport both driving a Vauxhall Vectra.

The TOCA owned Toyota NGTC car had its full public demonstration at the last round of the 2010 British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.[9]

Series Sponsors

The BTCC has had several championship sponsors over the years.

Year Sponsor
1960 Supa Tura
1974 Castrol Anniversary
1976 Keith Prowse
1978, 1980–82, 1984-86 Tricentrol
1983 Trimoco
1987-88, 2005–07, 2010 – Present Dunlop
1989-92 Esso
1993–2000 Auto Trader
2001 theAA.com
2002-04 Green Flag
2008-09 HiQ

Support Races

At each BTCC race meeting, the crowds are kept further entertained by appearances from five high profile supporting championships from the manufacturers Ginetta, Porsche and Renault.[10]

2011 BTCC Support Races

Previous Support Races

  • SEAT Cupra Championship
  • Formula BMW UK
  • Formula Ford
  • Renault Spider Cup
  • Formula Vauxhall
  • Formula Vauxhall Junior
  • Lotus Elise Championship
  • Vauxhall Vectra Championship
  • Ford Fiesta Championship

See also

References

External links


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