It has been three and a half weeks since the chequered flag fell on the last British Touring Car Championship race, on a weekend which saw Gordon Shedden become champion and Honda sweep the board with Matt Neal finishing second, the team taking team and constructors championship, and Pirtek Racing winning the Independent Teams’ championship along with their driver Andrew Jordan taking the Independent Drivers’ title. Recently a raft of changes have been announced as teams and drivers look ahead to 2013, including the Jack Sears Trophy for S2000 cars, revisions on the turbo boost adjustments, and a special soft tyre. Read on to find out more.
The Jack Sears Trophy
Jack Sears is a two time British Touring Car Champion, winning the inaugural championship in 1958 at the wheel of an Austin Westminster. Interesting fact: he tied at the end of the season with Tommy Sopwith, and after the idea of the champion being decided on the toss of a coin was disregarded, a five-lap shoot out was set up between the two. Marcus Chambers, a pioneer of post-war British motorsport and first ever manager of the British Motor Corporation, brought two of his Riley 1.5 rally cars to Brands Hatch and the pair took part in a shoot-out. The premise was this: the two cars differed in speed and performance and each driver would race five laps, stop, swap cars, then complete another five laps. An aggregate time would be taken and the champion would be the driver with the fastest aggregate time. To add to the drama it was wet, and after a coin toss, Sopwith got to use the fastest car first. They each won one race but in the end Sears was crowned champion after going faster, but only just, by 1.6s.
But I digress… in 2013 the top S2000 car in each race will be awarded a ‘cup’. With many teams migrating to New Generation Touring Cars (NGTC), and no parity between the two – NGTC will receive extra boost – it is important to have something for those teams who continue to run with S2000 cars. The driver with the most S2000 victories in 2013 will be awarded the Jack Sears Trophy with the man himself on hand at Brands Hatch to present it to the winning driver.
New ‘soft compound’ tyres
In 2013 Dunlop will be introducing a new soft compound tyres for NGTC teams at nine of the ten championship rounds, the exception being Thruxton which, due to being the fastest circuit on the calendar, is already difficult for tyres. The new soft tyres will become part of the 16 set of tyres allocation, rather than being an additional set. Before qualifying drivers will nominate which of the three races they will use their soft compound tyres in, and this decision will be shrouded in mystery and not revealed to other teams or drivers. The idea behind nominating before qualifying is that, if a driver had a poor qualifying, then they can not just decide to use the soft compound tyres to gain a performance boost in the first race of the day. If, however, the nominated race is wet, then drivers will carry the soft tyres onto the next race (if applicable) but can not be carried event to event.
Another new tyre rule for 2013 will see teams no longer allowed to use a mixture of wet and dry tyres on their cars – they must all either be dry tyres or wet tyres. In the past it was not uncommon to see drivers mix and match if there were changeable conditions. Alan Gow commented that he the teams had been “enthusiastic” about these changes and that he thought spectators would “love this new element”.
Tweaks to turbo boost adjustments
Turbo boost adjustments have always been a touchy subject in the paddock for some teams and drivers, some being more vocal about it than others. Currently the boost adjustments are calculated using lap times, and at every other event. While the basic principle remains the same there have been some tweaks to the process with the amount of boost adjustment, either increased or decreased, being reduced, the adjustments being applied to certain teams or drivers, rather than by car or chassis, and the frequency at which the boost adjustments are calculated. The details are expected to be finalised in the coming weeks.
‘Three strikes’ grid penalty
In the past the penalty system worked as follows: if a driver accumulated eight points on their licence through the season, then they would have up to a maximum of eight championship points deducted. If they accumulated a total of 12 points on their licence then a maximum of 23 championship points could be deducted and the matter would be referred to the Administrator who could impose further penalties. At times this felt like some drivers were continuously being given points, but no visible action was being taken. It was difficult to see who was being punished and when.
Hence the new ‘three strike’ grid penalty. Now, if a driver receives three penalties for on-track behaviour – whether this be a verbal warning or points – they will automatically be relegated six places on the grid after their third offence (as well as any other penalties). This will hopefully help to sort out the driving standards in BTCC which seem to have gone downhill.
And those are some of the changes for 2013. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with any of them? Have you got any suggestions on what the championship could change to improve it? Or do you think it is fine the way it is?