New-look BTCC cuts costs, but keeps format

The new-look British Touring Car Championship was officially launched today (Thursday) by the new owners of the series, British Motorsport Promoters, who promised packed grids and close racing for the country's premier racing series

New-look BTCC cuts costs, but keeps format

The return to low budget racing is key to the changes under BMP, with the estimated cost for next year set to be around £1.5 million for a two car team, a theoretical reduction of over 50 per cent from this year.

The calendar will also undergo a minor revision with the addition of a midsummer round at Mondello Park. The Irish track was due to host a race this year, but the event was withdrawn because required changes to the pit complex could not be completed in time.

BMP have also been in contact with the Rockingham facility in Northamptonshire, where a Champ Car oval race will be held next year. BMP are said to be keen to involve Rockingham in the BTCC, with a possible race on the infield road track.

Aside from the technical changes to the cars, the format of the championship will remain much the same, with the double-header meetings still including a sprint race and a longer feature race. The fate of pit stops has yet to be decided, with an announcement on whether they will be retained for 2001 expected by the end of August.

"It is crucial that we retain the pit stops for next year," said Vauxhall works driver, Jason Plato. "It gives the teams a chance to have some input into the outcome of the race and it makes for good TV. It also chucks in that element of uncertainty."

BMP are aiming to provide a minimum grid size of between 20 and 24 cars with at least 12 of those being fielded by works efforts. The remaining cars will be run by privateer teams, for which there is an allocated prize fund of £400,000.

"We're confident that we'll have at least five or six manufacturers," said BMP director Rob Bain. "We've been in talks with about 12, so if we get half of those then that's fine."

The technical specifications around which manufacturers will be expected to design and build cars for next year are still to be finalised. The teams are expected to receive details of the completed regulations next month.



15th/16th April - Brands Hatch
6th/7th May - Thruxton
19th/20th May - Oulton Park (Island)
2nd/3rd June - Donington Park (National)
16th/17th June - Knockhill
30th June/1st July - Silverstone (International)
14th/15th July - Mondello Park **
28th/29th July - Croft
11th August - Snetterton - Night Race
26th/27th August - Oulton Park (Island)
8th/9th September - Silverstone (International)
15th/16th September - Donington Park (International)
6th/7th October - Brands Hatch (Indy)

** Subject to the satisfactory completion of Track/Paddock facilities

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