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BTCC Logo (Official)

The current BTCC logo.

The British Touring Car Championship, founded in 1958 as the British Saloon Car Championship, is an annual motor racing series held in the United Kingdom. Running from the spring until autumn, the BTCC sees a variety of touring and saloon cars racing around some of the UK's most famous circuits.

Current SeasonEdit

For 2014, the BTCC (officially known as the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship) will only accept entires running to the Next Generation Touring Car regulations (first introduced in 2011).[1] Defending Champion, Andrew Jordan was able to make a successful start to his campaign, taking the first two wins of the season at Brands Hatch Indy.[2] Rob Austin currently leads the Jack Sears Trophy after the first meeting, with the season ending on the 12th of October.[3]

The series is currently part of the TOCA package, organised by Alan Gow.[1] It will be supported by numerous championships, such as the Renault Clio Cup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB and Ginetta Supercup.[1]

HistoryEdit

The BTCC was originally founded in 1958 (although the first race was held on Boxing Day in 1957 at Brands Hatch) by Ken Gregory , whom wanted a Saloon car championship to run at a national level.[3] His intention was to create the first organised championship for manufacturers to display their new products, having recovered from the Second World War, in a sport which had become popular across the UK.[3]

JSears Austin 1958

The Austin A105 Westminster that helped take Jack Sears to the inaugural title in 1958.

The first season of the BTCC was won in highly unusual circumstances, with Tommy Sopwith (whom won the very first race in 1957) and Jack Sears (who had won his catagory's championship) tied on points after the final race.[3] Sopwith, having won eight of the years ten meetings with eight fastest laps, felt the title should be his. However, Sears had scored the same number of points, having equally dominated his catagory (although not winning a meeting outright).[3] It was decided that a shootout between the two, with two 1.5 litre Rileys provided by Marcus Chambers in two five lap races around Brands Hatch, with the drivers swapping to the other car inbetween the races.[3] Ultimately, Sears won the title, beating Sopwith by 1.6 seconds in total over the two races.[3]

1960sEdit

The 1960 championship was sponsored by SupaTura and new regulations were introduced to allow 1,000cc 'silhouette' cars to compete.[3] The season was dominated by Doc Shepherd, running an Austin A40.[3] This changed in 1961, as the series stayed true to manufacturer's requests rather than purpose built racing cars. The BSCC decided to adopt the regualtions provided by the FIA for the European Touring Car competitions, known as FIA Group 2 regualtions.[3] Cars would also have to be homologated, with a certain number sold in order to compete in the series.[3]

Mini vs Lotus

John Rhodes' Mini chasing a Lotus Cortina driven by Frank Gardner.

The result was a decline in the number of Jaguar built cars in particular, although a BSCC icon would emerge: the Mini. The Mini became famed for its giant-killing performances, defeating the likes of Ford Mustangs  and Jaguar Mk IIs to win the 1961 and 1962 championships (with John Whitmore and John Love driving them respectively).[3] Another notable Mini racer would be John Rhodes, whom took four class titles in his Mini through the 1960s.[3]

Attempting to beat the Minis were a number of American built cars from Ford and Chevrolet, popularly known as Muscle Cars.[3] The Ford Galaxy became a popular sight in a BSCC weekend, dwarfing its competitors on the track. On his way to a second title in 1963, Jack Sears took a Galaxy to victory at a meeting (while also driving Ford and Lotus built Cortinas).[3]

Ford Escort 1968

A Ford Escort originally built for the 1968 championship.

From 1966 until 1969, the BSCC competed under FIA Group 5 regulations, which promoted engine and suspension modification rather than body modifications.[3] 1966 was also the first year in which BSCC cars were allowed to use slick (ie treadless) tyres.[3] John Fitzpatrick took the 66 title, using a Ford Anglia to defeat the bigger Galaxies and Chevrolet Camaros.[3] He was followed by Frank Gardner who claimed the 1967 and 1968 titles (driving a Ford Falcon and Ford Escort respectively).[3] From 1968 the Motor Sports Association (alongside the Royal Automobile Company) took over the running of the BSCC, and managed to stage a race at every major circuit in the UK.[3] Another victory for the Mini (with an Equipe Arden built example driven by Alec Poole) in 1969 closed out the 1960s, with the BSCC one of the most popular racing series in the UK.[3]

1970sEdit

1970 Imp

Bill McGovern leading a trio of Ford Escorts in his treble winning Imp.

For 1970, the BSCC returned to FIA Group 2 regulations, with a hatrick of titles for Bill McGovern from 1970-72.[3] These regs banished the Porsche 911 that had begun to dominate the old regulations in other catagories, and made it more competitive for teams to run larger capacity cars.[3] That said, it would not be until 1973 that a large engine car took the title, with a seven litre Chevrolet Camaro, with Frank Gardner at the wheel, taking the title.[3]

1974 saw the bell toll for the large engine cars, with the BSCC switching to Group 1 regs, which lacked a focus on engine development and required more road going examples to be produced.[3] 1974 and 75 proved to be the final years of the American built brutes with a string of victories shared between Stuart Graham and Richard Lloyd (although the titles for those years went to Bernard Unett and Andy Rouse respectively).[3]

Ford would, however, continue to dominate the series, with the Ford Capri picking up where the Galaxies and Mustangs left off.[3] The 3000cc class (the largest capacity allowed from 1976) was won five years on the trot by Gordon Spice, although he would not take the overall title with Unett (using an Avenger GT in the 1300cc catagory) and Richard Longman (driving a Mini in the same class) taking the titles for those seasons.[3]

1980sEdit

1981 Mazda RX7 WPercy

Win Percy in his Mazda RX-7 on the way to the title in 1981.

The early 1980s saw the rise of Japanese manufacturers in the BSCC, with Win Percy taking his three titles in the first three seasons of the decade, using a TWR Mazda (in 1980 and 81) and a Toyota Corolla.[3] 1980 also saw the maximum capacity (which had been reduced to three litres in 1976) raised to 3500cc, allowing more powerful Rover Vitesses to enter the championship, displacing the Capris.[3]

In 1983, the regulations were changed to the FIA Group A regs, which caused the series to be won by Andy Rouse in controversial circumstances.[3] The top three drivers in the 3500cc class (all driving Vitesses) were excluded from the final standings, as they did not comply to the new regulations.[3] This left Tony Lanfranchi to take the 3500cc honours that year in an Opel Monza, although Rouse, using another Vitesse, was able to take the overall title in 1984.[3]

For 1985, Rouse equipped himself with a Ford Sierra Turbo and dominated the series, taking nine of eleven available wins that year on his way to a third title.[3] This signalled the beginning of the BSCC's association with Turbo power, as Nissan, MG and Colt followed Ford's example and built cars with increasingly powerful turbochargers.[3] This meant that the competition for outright race victories was split by a larger number of cars, meaning that the less popular lower classes, with consistent winners were more likely to take the overall title.[3]

This was demonstrated in 1986, with Chris Hodgetts in a Toyota Corolla GT taking the title, while Rouse and Longman shared the majority of the outright victories between them.[3] He repeated this feat in 1987, with the series name changed to the British Touring Car Championship, defeating the likes of Rouse and Tim Harvey (who came close to taking the title in a swansong for the Vitesse) to the title.[3]

1988 saw the rise of the Ford RS500 in the hands of Rouse, who came close to claiming his fourth title that year.[3] He was thwarted, however, by Frank Sytner in a Prodrive BMW M3. This set up the next few years of the BTCC competitively, with the RS500 and M3 becoming icons of the series, and what is frequently seen as the golden era of the BTCC.[3] The BTCC also sold its first major television rights, with the BBC showing highlights of every race from 1988 onwards, with commentary from Murray Walker.[1]

The 1980s concluded with a duel between Rouse and Robb Gravett in their RS500s and the M3s of Sytner and James Weaver.[3] Although Rouse claimed the class title, the crowds were vexed as the title went to the lowly Vauxhall Astra GTE 16v of John Cleland, who won his class with eleven victories.[3]

1990sEdit

1990 proved to be the final year of Group A regulations, although the BTCC experimented with a new format, with a sub 2.0 litre class and a 2.0 litre and above class.[3] Gravett exacted his revenge on Rouse, taking the RS500's third successive class win and its first (and only) overall championship (competing in the above 2.0 litre class).[3] Cleland (using a new Vauxhall Cavalier) challenged the M3 of Sytner in the sub 2.0 litre class, although Sytner would take the class title that year.[3]

For 1991, the BTCC created its own regulations, later adopted by the FIA as the Super Touring specification.[4] These regulations limited engine size to 2.0 litres.[4] The new regulations tightened the field substancially, as there was only one class to compete in. This meant that a four way duel for the 1991 went down to the final race, with Will Hoy ultimately taking the championship from Rouse, Steve Soper and Cleland.[4]

1992 proved to be an expansive year for the BTCC, as TOCA bought control of the series, introducing a number of support races to the series to attract bigger crowds.[4] Peugeot entered the series, although the title would ultimately go to Tim Harvey that year in an eventful finale at Silverstone.[4] 1993 saw the BTCC gain a new sponsor, Auto Trader, and the re-emergence of Ford as a factory outfit.[4] The season was, at first, dominated by BMW and the German Joachim Winkelhock, although Nissan, Toyota and Vauxhall (as well as the newly introduced Ford Mondeo) would attempt to prevent Winkelhock's march to the title.[4] Winkelhock would, however, take the title in 1993, becoming the first non-Brit to win the championship in twenty years.[4]

For 1994, Alfa Romeo and Volvo (who entered the infamous Volvo 850R) entered the frey.[4] It was the Italian team that proved the more successful of the two, with Gabriele Tarquini taking the first five races of the season.[4] The Alfa 155 that Tarquini used was equipped with wings and other body modifications, which the FIA were forced to allow across all series from that point onwards.[4] Tarquini's title proved the benefits of Formula One experience, with Renault teaming up with their F1 partners Williams F1 and Honda entering the series for the first time.[4] Ultimately, however, it would be Cleland who took his second title for Vauxhall.[4]

JP Laguna 1998

Jason Plato driving his 1998 Renault Laguna.

Another new manufacturer would enter the series, Audi, who entered their four wheel drive Audi A4 in 1996, allowing Frank Biela to take the title that year.[4] Renault, having finished as runner since 1994, were able to take the title in 1997, with Alain Menu taking their first driver's championship (with new boy Jason Plato cliching third).[4] 1998 proved to be a more competitive season, with no fewer than nine different winners.[4] It would, however, result in Volvo's first triumph in the series, with Rickard Rydell taking a Volvo S40 to the title.[4]

The final season of the 1990s was the one of the final years of FIA Super Touring regulations, with Frenchman Laurent Aiello taking the title.[4] Alan Gow, series director, gave a £250,000 prize to Matt Neal, after he became the first privateer to win a race.[4]

2000sEdit

AM Mondeo 2000

Alain Menu on his way to the 2000 title in his Ford Mondeo.

Despite the ever increasing popularity of the series, and the frequent TV highlights provided by the BBC, the BTCC struggled at the turn of the century.[4] Ever increasing budgets meant that only three manufacturers entering teams for the 2000 season.[4] Menu would take his second title, with the Super Touring cars supplemented by Group N cars.[4]

An American based group, Octagon, took control of TOCA and the BTCC in 2001, buying out Alan Gow, and introducing a set of cost controlled regulations, known as BTC-spec.[5] Plato took his first title that year driving a Vauxhall Astra (with team mate Yvan Muller finishing second), with only one other manufacturer, Peugeot, providing a factory backed team.[5] The Astra continued to dominate, although MG made a return to the championship (with WSR) while Honda entered a competitive entry for the first time.[5] James Thompson (2002 and 2004) and Muller (2003) took the next three titles for Vauxhall, who ran under the name VX Racing.[5] 2002 also saw ITV obtain television rights to the BTCC, ultimately showing the full sunday's worth of racing (around seven hours) from 2008 on ITV 4.[1]

Octagon Group's rule lasted only three years, however, with Gow returning to take charge of the championship in mid 2003.[5] Gow made a tactful move to allow Super 2000 cars to compete in the championship, a move which rejuvinated the series. SEAT, a spanish manufacturer, entered the championship for the first time, entering their Toledo in 2004.[5] This brought fan favourite Jason Plato back to the series and opened up the grid for a flood of new teams.[5]

MN 2005 Integra

Matt Neal demonstrating his 2005 winning Honda Integra.

In 2005 a new icon of the BTCC emerged: the Honda Integra. Run by Team Dynamics (as Team Halfords) Matt Neal took his first title in an Integra, built from a road car to a racer over the winter.[5] 2006 saw Neal retain his title, with the Integra proving to be the best car that year.[5] That would not last, however, as Vauxhall (whom almost went a year without victory) got their new Vectra up to speed, allowing Fabrizio Giovanardi a chance to challenge for the 2007 title.[5]

From 2007 onwards, BTC-spec cars were no longer able to win the championship outright (although they could still compete in meetings).[5] SEAT looked the most likely to take the honours that season, with their Leon now a year in its development.[5] It would be Vauxhall, however, with Giovanardi at the wheel, who took the title, while Team Dynamics developed a new car, the Honda Civic for the championship.[5]

Turk vs Gio 2009

Colin Turkington leading Fabrizio Giovanardi at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in 2009.

The 2008 season saw Giovanardi become the first non-British driver to take two titles on the trot since Frank Gardner in the 1960s, again using a Vectra run by VX Racing.[5] SEAT looked to bring the BTCC into a new era, with Plato taking the first ever win for a diesel fuelled car (a SEAT Leon TDi) before finishing runner up in his season long duel with Giovanardi.[5] 2009 saw Northern Irishman Colin Turkington claim his first (and so far only) title, the first for a BMW machine since Tim Harvey in 1992.[1]

2010sEdit

2010 saw Plato claim his second title, using a WTCC spec Chevrolet Cruze backed by Chevrolet.[5] Having proved Chevy's potential in 2009 (having won all three races at the season finale in a Lacetti), Plato took the 2010 title, Chevrolet's first since Gardner took a Camaro to the title in 1973.[5] Plato also equalled Rouse's tally of 60 race wins that year, before taking the record with victory in the first race of 2011.[5] 2010 also witnessed the first victory for Ford since 2000, with Tom Chilton taking victory in a Ford Focus powered by Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG).[5]

GS Civic 2011

Gordon Shedden in his 2011 Honda Civic.

2011 saw Neal return to the pinnacle of British Motorsport, taking his third title for Team Dynamics.[5] This season also saw the introduction of the BTCC's own Next Generation Touring Car specification, as well as the final year of the BTC-spec entries.[5] The NGTC concept took the paddock by storm, with numerous teams building cars to the new specification from 2011 onwards.[5]

The 2012 and 2013 seasons saw the phasing out of S2000 cars, while Honda (running in partnership with Team Dynamics and providing a further two cars for Pirtek Racing) took the two titles.[5] Gordon Shedden became the first Scotsman since Cleland to take the BTCC title in 2012, before the Pirtek run car of Andrew Jordan beat the factory run Hondas, and Jason Plato's new MG 6 to the 2013 title.[5] The 2013 season also saw the introduction of the Jack Sears Trophy (named for the BTCC's first champion) for the outgoing S2000 cars, won by Lea Wood who finished the highest of all of the S2000 cars seventeen times out of thirty.[5]

RA A4 2014

Rob Austin's Audi A4 named Sherman in its 2014 livery for Exocet Racing.

2014 was the first season in which S2000 cars were not allowed to compete in, as the cheaper NGTC regulations were applied to the whole field.[5] This meant that the Jack Sears Trophy would be awarded to the driver that improves on their starting positions the most over the season.[5]

ChampionsEdit

Below is a table of every BTCC champion from 1958 until 2013, with the winning manufacturer and team, as well as winners of the Independent catagory when it was introduced.

Year Overall Championship Independent Championship
Driver Manufacturer Team Driver Team
1958 Jack Sears None None Not Awarded
1959 Jeff Uren
1960 Doc Shepherd
1961 Sir John Whitmore
1962 John Love
1963 Jack Sears
1964 Jim Clark
1965 Roy Pierpoint Weybridge Engineering Company
1966 John Fitzpatrick Team Lotus
1967 Frank Gardner None
1968
1969 Alec Poole
1970 Bill McGovern
1971
1972
1973 Frank Gardner
1974 Bernard Unett
1975 Andy Rouse Chevrolet Triumph
1976 Bernard Unett None
1977
1978 Richard Longman
1979 BL Mini
1980 Win Percy None
1981
1982
1983 Andy Rouse
1984
1985
1986 Chris Hodgetts
1987
1988 Frank Sytner
1989 John Cleland
1990 Robb Gravett Independent Championship
1991 Will Hoy BMW Driver Team
1992 Tim Harvey James Kaye Not Awarded
1993 Joachim Winkelhock Matt Neal
1994 Gabriele Tarquini Alfa Romeo James Kaye
1995 John Cleland Renault Williams Renault Dealer Racing Matt Neal
1996 Frank Biela Audi Audi Sport Lee Brookes
1997 Alain Menu Renault Williams Renault Dealer Racing Robb Gravett
1998 Rickard Rydell Nissan Vodafone Nissan Racing Tommy Rustad
1999 Laurent Aiello Matt Neal
2000 Alain Menu Ford Ford Team Mondeo
2001 Jason Plato Vauxhall Vauxhall Motorsport None
2002 James Thompson Dan Eaves
2003 Yvan Muller VX Racing Rob Collard
2004 James Thompson Anthony Reid
2005 Matt Neal Honda Team Halfords Matt Neal Team Halfords
2006
2007 Fabrizio Giovanardi Vauxhall SEAT Sport UK Colin Turkington Team RAC
2008 VX Racing
2009 Colin Turkington BMW
2010 Jason Plato Chevrolet RML Group Tom Chilton Team Aon
2011 Matt Neal Honda Honda Racing Team James Nash Triple Eight Race Engineering
2012 Gordon Shedden Honda Yuasa Racing Andrew Jordan Pirtek Racing
2013 Andrew Jordan
2014

Below is a table for the Jack Sears Trophy and the Production Class Championship (which ran from 2000 until 2003).

Year Jack Sears Trophy Production Class
Driver Team Driver Team
2000 Not Awarded Alan Morrison None
2001 Simon Harrison GR Motorsport
2002 James Kaye Synchro Motorsport
2003 Luke Hines Barwell Motorsport
2013 Lea Wood Not Awarded
2014

SponsorshipEdit

The BTCC has had a constant title sponsor since 1974 (although the series did obtain sponsorship in 1960). As such the BTCC has been officially named is a number of ways. Below is a table of theose sponsors.

Year Sponsor
1960 SupaTura
1972 Wiggins Teape Paperchase
1974 Castrol Anniversary
1975 Southern Organs
1976 Keith Prowse
1977-82 Tricentrol
1983-85 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

ReferencesEdit

Images:

References:

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