THIS WEEKEND THE British Touring Car Championship gets under way at Brands Hatch, find out all you need to know in our season preview.
The most noticeable change this year will be the cars. Although you’ll have seen the NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) Toyota Avensis’ (below) and Audi A4’s last year, there will be many more teams running new regulation cars in 2012, as organisers TOCA continue to phase out the previous S2000 regulations. These new regulations are intended to bring costs down by making teams use many standard parts including the 2.0 litre turbo-charged engine, six-speed sequential gearbox, AP Racing clutch and gearbox and many suspension parts, thus encouraging more independent and manufacturer teams to join the series.
The Honda Yuasa Racing Team will run an NGTC version of the new Civic this year, they retain their driver line-up of reigning champion Matt Neal and Scot, Gordon Shedden. The only other manufacturer team are MG KX Momentum Racing who return to the series with the new MG6, also an NGTC car. The cars will be run by Triple Eight Race Engineering, who previously ran the works Vauxhall cars and are one of the BTCC’s most successful teams ever, and will be driven by double-champion Jason Plato and the hotly tipped Andy Neate.
Independant teams include Rob Austin Racing who will field two NGTC Audi A4s, Pirtek Racing who will run two NGTC Honda Civics (below, left), Redstone Racing who will be running three NGTC-engined Ford Focus’ and eBay Motors who are running three BMW 320s.
Other independant cars on the grid will be the NGTC Proton Persona of Welch Motorsport, the NGTC Vauxhall Insignia VXRs of Thorney Motorsport and the NGTC-engined VW Golf of AmD Tuning.com, Honds Civic of Team HARD (below, left) and Vauxhall Vectras of Team ES Racing.com and BINZ Racing.
The calendar sees the teams move from the opener at Brands Hatch to Donington Park, Thruxton, Oulton Park, Croft, Snetterton, Knockhill, Rockingham and Silverstone, before returning to Brands Hatch for the season finale on the Grand Prix circuit.
With teams running much more mechanically similar cars and having to get used to the new regulations you expect some close racing with the usual paint-swapping and panel-bashing that follows.
For more information visit the official BTCC website.