Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship organisers have taken further steps in an effort to equal out the currently rather unequal balance between the series' turbocharged cars and normally-aspirated entries – although part of the amendments to the regulations 'remains suspended'.
There has been considerable debate amongst BTCC drivers, teams and fans about the advantage presently enjoyed by the turbos. A reduction in boost pressure of 0.1 bar was announced for the most recent outing at Thruxton back at the beginning of this month – leading to anguished cries from former champion Matt Neal that the turbo brigade would henceforth be fighting with 'one arm tied behind our back' [see separate story – click here
] – but in truth, it made little discernible difference.
Nine of the top ten cars in qualifying around the high-speed Hampshire circuit were turbo-powered, and the sole normally-aspirated interloper – Racing Silverline's defending title-holder Jason Plato – has lamented that the current arrangement is 'so far out-of-bed' that 'all we can hope to do is luck in with the reverse grid' and that the situation 'needs a big change' [see separate story – click here
]. His prayers have been answered – to an extent, at least.
A technical bulletin issued today (Thursday) by championship organisers TOCA has revealed that 'following full analysis of technical data, input from teams/engine-builders and taking into consideration other relevant results/information', with effect from next weekend's meeting at Oulton Park, the maximum boost pressure for turbo cars will be reduced by a further 0.05 bar – albeit underlining that 'the introduction of this revised boost limit remains suspended' and can be implemented during the course of an event 'if/when deemed required'.
The minimum weight limits for normally-aspirated cars have similarly been amended, with front wheel-drive examples such as Plato's Chevrolet Cruze now able to run 25kg lighter to a minimum of 1,145kg, and rear wheel-drives like the BMWs dropping by 10kg to a minimum of 1,140kg. The latter are also now permitted to run a free first-gear ratio, which may help to reinstate their inherent advantage away from the start-line.