Running the BTCC 'is like managing England'

New British Touring Car Championship chief executive Richard West is facing a task similar to that of England's new football coach Sven Goran Eriksson in turning around the championship's flagging fortunes next year

Running the BTCC 'is like managing England'

Formula One sponsorship guru West, speaking at the annual TOCA Awards evening in Birmingham on Saturday, also took the opportunity to voice his determination in making the series a success story once again, while admitting there are some tough days ahead of him.

"I commenced working on the championship several weeks ago and, in that time, I've gained some insight into what it must be like to be the England soccer manager," said West. "There is an enormous amount to do to take it forwards and continue the championship in a positive way for the future. I do not undertake the responsibility I've been charged with lightly. It is very clear to me that [series organisers] BMP and myself cannot duck any of the issues that are crucial to the future of the championship. I do not underestimate what I have been tasked with."

West continued to be optimistic over the influence that the new-look regulations will have next season.

"The expectations of the championship are still extremely high...The reality is that the budgets must not be. I think it's going to be a very challenging year. The new regulations have been designed to promote not only close racing but take notice of the tough economic pressures that the manufacturers and commercial sponsors are under. The new concepts from Vauxhall and Peugeot are absolutely stunning. It's often said 'if they look right, they are right', so roll on 2001."

He gave BTCC fans a glimmer of hope for next year by mentioning the possibility of more marques appearing to give Peugeot and Vauxhall some much-needed competition.

"I am in active dialogue with a number of other manufacturers who, rightly, have their concerns. Having said that, they are also very positive about the championship. They have said they would like to view 2001 as an interim year but, equally, some are now trying to accelerate their plans to come in."

West believes people power is what will make the BTCC great again.

"One thing I believe passionately that will encourage back the manufacturers is the consumer, therefore the spectator. We have to continue, through BMP and TOCA Tour, to provide entertainment and bring people back to us. I see the future is about affordable, fair and competitive racing, and is also about the whole family, not just one of that family, wanting to come back again and again."

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