The HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship has taken the wraps off the CO2 emission testing programme that it will bring into play for the 2009 season.

The series will make the most of a state-of-the-art testing laboratory at the Land Rover plant in Solihull to regularly test the CO2 figures of cars competing in the series in order to try and keep them inline with their showroom counterparts.

This will be measured by using a rolling road drive-cycle specifically developed for BTCC race cars, to give a meaningful comparison alongside their equivalent road models.

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Cars running to S2000 rules have already been put through the laboratory ahead of the new season and tests carried out to date have shown that teams and engine developers are on target to meet the regulations without losing any meaningful power.

The new scheme has the backing of the government's Energy Efficient Motor Sport arm, EEMS, which has already been involved in the series through recent bio-fuel entries from the likes of Tech-Speed, Team RAC and Kartworld.

"What we are undertaking in 2009 is a world first in motor sport," series director Alan Gow said. "Yes, we could have gone down the easier path of simply mandating the use of bio-fuels or adopting a less technically-challenging 'panacea'. But the BTCC wants to see emission levels genuinely reduced and that is why we are taking this route - in other words tackling CO2 emissions directly at their source; namely the engines themselves.

"Our sport is full of incredibly clever, very talented engineers and this initiative is a great demonstration of their ability to tackle such issues head-on. To my mind, it's a far more meaningful demonstration of our credentials to motor manufacturers, environmental groups, sponsors, the government, motorists and the BTCC's many millions of fans than us taking less convincing (or demanding) steps.

"This of course is the beginning of a long-term strategy from the BTCC and we hope in future to even push our race cars' CO2 levels to beneath those of their road-going equivalents. I would like to thank Jaguar Land Rover, along with Horiba, for their superb technical know-how and back-up during this exciting programme. Similarly, EEMS and the tremendous support and enthusiasm it has also shown us."