Did the new national series of 2022 fly or flop?
There weren’t many standout stars from the selection of series launched during last year’s tricky financial climate. Autosport rates how they fared
While 2020 and 2021 were tricky years to launch new championships because of the uncertainty caused by the looming spectre of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was still far from straightforward last year, either.
Spiralling inflation put pressure on everyone's pursestrings as the season wore on and this can have a particularly negative impact on categories trying to get off the ground.
Therefore, it is perhaps no coincidence that two of the five new UK series launched for 2022 have already been scrapped for this year.
Here Autosport rates the success of each of those fledgling divisions as well as taking a look at the categories that had far softer launches, opting to hold a few trial events during the season.
GB4 Championship - 3 stars
Grids were never especially high in the new GB3 feeder series, although racing was often exciting
Photo by: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Exciting racing was overshadowed somewhat by low average grid sizes for the inaugural season of the GB4 Championship, an entry-level single-seater category from MotorSport Vision. Only nine drivers completed the full eight-round campaign – this total also proved to be a season low at the second Snetterton meeting – but come the Donington Park finale a high of 14 drivers took to the grid.
Fortec Motorsports’ Nikolas Taylor claimed the title at the final round, winning the £50,000 prize fund, and will graduate with the squad into GB3 this season, fulfilling the main purpose of the championship. Last term’s National Formula Ford shootout winner Colin Queen will also move into GB4 this year, again fulfilling another aspiration set out by MSV, while interest for the upcoming campaign looks strong.
Seven drivers have already been confirmed and three new teams have joined, paving the way for a strong sophomore season, which could cement the championship’s place in the UK racing landscape.
Praga Cup - 1.5 stars
Rather than standalone grids, R1s will form a key part of Britcar’s new prototype series in 2023
Photo by: Steve Jones
After enjoying success running its R1 prototypes within the British Endurance Championship, the logical next step for Czech manufacturer Praga was to launch its own standalone series – and the company bit the bullet and committed to one last year. An attractive prize package was offered, some top club racers were tempted, and a minimum of 16 cars were promised.
The reality was slightly different. Sadly, the series struggled for numbers in 2022 and never reached that figure of 16, instead falling as low as nine. At some events, poor driving standards and repeated reliability gremlins, which were tackled for the second half of the year, meant there were few finishers.
With the company also now launching its track-focused, road-legal Bohema hypercar, it has taken the sensible decision to scale back its ambition for 2023 and no longer run a standalone grid. Instead, the R1s will form a key part of Britcar’s new prototype series, offering the chance for Praga to build up the interest without committing to the track time on its own.
Super Tourers - 2 stars
Grids were sadly and perhaps predictably slender in the rebooted Super Tourer series, although star names added to its appeal
Photo by: Mick Walker
Very few cars evoke such enthusiasm from motorsport fans as Super Touring tin-tops. Over 20 years from the end of the machines’ stint in the British Touring Car Championship, they remain as popular as ever, so the Classic Touring Car Racing Club’s new series for these iconic models sparked plenty of interest.
Yet, we’ve been here before. Sadly, as predicted, the numbers were never high, with the significant running costs proving a barrier to success. While the Super Tourers (and newer BTC-T and Super 2000-spec cars) shared grids with a plethora of other CTCRC categories, this series only once got into double figures – although tempting out Super Touring legends John Cleland and Anthony Reid does give it an extra half a star!
This year there will be nowhere to hide as the Super Tourers are due to get top billing at a new touring car festival planned for Brands Hatch in July, but this could also tempt more to join the fray.
United Formula Ford - 3.5 stars
Grids fluctuated in James Beckett's new FF series, but have warranted an expanded calendar for 2023
Photo by: Ollie Read
Formed from the ashes of Heritage Formula Ford, United Formula Ford proved there’s still an appetite to race the Kent-engined machines outside the popular end-of-season events. That said, grids fluctuated widely throughout the seven-round campaign and just eight competitors made the trips mid-season to Cadwell Park and Snetterton.
This was in stark contrast to the 28 drivers who took to the grid for the first of three visits to Brands Hatch, which formed the Champion of Brands element of the new series. Organiser James Beckett has expanded the 2023 calendar to eight events, consisting of visits to Donington Park, Silverstone, Snetterton (x2), Oulton Park and Brands Hatch (x3), with interest supposedly already strong.
Turismo X - 1.5 stars
MSVT has canned Turismo X after one season, with the opportunity to win a Mazda Demio as a prize failing to bring in competitors
Photo by: Mick Walker
The MotorSport Vision Trackdays-run championship, a little surprisingly, never reached the heights of the Supercup category it replaced. Across the six-round season, which featured two 20-minute races and a new ‘Super Pole’ format, numbers for Turismo X averaged only 14 entries – far below the 26 average that were attracted to the previous iteration.
Even the inclusion of a Mazda Demio – a car featured in the popular Gran Turismo franchise, which was a theme the championship embraced – as a prize for the champion could not bring in competitors.
Rather than stumble on, MSVT organisers have taken the sensible decision and canned the championship for the 2023 season, focusing instead on its current roster of EnduroKa, Trackday Championship and Trackday Trophy.
Historic racing soft launches
Group 1 touring cars attracted considerable interest last year and there will be a full campaign under the Gerry Marshall Trophy banner this season
Photo by: Richard Styles
Alongside these categories, there was also a host of other new series from the world of historic motorsport that enjoyed much softer launches during 2022 with just a few trial events. The Historic Sports Car Club was among the organisers taking this sensibly cautious approach as it tentatively kickstarted two new creations.
The first was the Griffiths Haig Trophy for drum-braked 1950s sportscars, harking back to the club’s very origins. There were three UK appearances for these machines, with an encouraging 15 cars participating in the Silverstone opener. Entries were more modest for its Historic Modsports and Saloons offering, but plenty of enquiries for 2023 mean a fuller programme of six events is now planned.
Other historic racing organisers are looking to capitalise on the popularity of the Group 1 cars that have featured at Goodwood Members’ Meetings in the Gerry Marshall Trophy. The Historic Racing Drivers Club has launched its own series named after the legendary national racer and enjoyed a very strong start, attracting 29 cars to its inaugural event at Snetterton before impressively rising above 30 at Silverstone in October. Now a full season is planned for this year, including rounds at the high-profile Donington Historic Festival, Brands Hatch Masters and Oulton Park Gold Cup fixtures.
Equipe Classic Racing, meanwhile, is pressing on with plans to launch its Equipe 70s category that it first announced last season. This is open to a wider array of cars than just the Group 1 tin-tops, with Group 3 and 4 sportscars also eligible, along with road-going 1970s machines, as it intends to create a grid reminiscent of the diverse entries at Le Mans of the period. A small clutch of cars appeared at Silverstone last year, while standalone races are planned for 2023.
The Griffiths Haig Trophy was another new creation to begin with a small number of events in 2022
Photo by: Ollie Read
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