A record crowd at Brands Hatch has been given a glimpse of the future of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after the public debut of the Next Generation Touring Car during the final weekend of the year.
James Thompson hit the track in the car, based on a Toyota Avensis, during free practice at the Kent circuit before completing a demo run in front of the race day crowd during the lunch break.
Despite being one of the first runs for the car, Thompson set a time during practice that was within a second of the pace-setter Jason Plato.
“The NGTC regulations will mean a car that's more spectacular for about half the cost,” Thompson said. “If a team is looking at coming into the BTCC then now is the time to do it as it's an opportunity to get a head's start with a car that is only going to keep on developing. It is surely going to lead to more teams and more drivers on the grid.
“It's not too radical, but everything on the car is just that little bit bigger and better – it looks more dramatic and spectacular, just like a touring car should be!
“At the moment we are at point A with the car, working our way through to point Z. Full credit to TOCA – it's the right concept and will be a great car. Mechanically, the car has run perfectly enabling us to get through the list of work we need to do with adjustments, set-up and feedback. There has been a huge amount of very positive factors to come out of the three days we've run it on so far.”
The NGTC-car will be eligible to enter the series next season alongside the current S2000 machines, with the two having parity in performance through to 2013 when the NGTC performance will be increased.
“The feedback from current and potential teams, media and the public has been absolutely fantastic,” BTCC boss Alan Gow said. “The car has a real 'wow-factor' and, coupled with a huge reduction in running costs, it's a real win-win situation… so it's no surprise that we've had so many positive remarks and very serious enquiries from teams who see this as their ideal opportunity to join the BTCC. Seeing the car in the flesh on track for the first time at Brands Hatch has really opened a lot of eyes.”
In total, more than 42,000 people attended the Brands Hatch race weekend – the largest BTCC crowd at the Kent circuit since MotorSport Vision took control back in 2004.