The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has introduced a significant change to its tyre regulations for 2013, it has been confirmed.
At nine of the championship's ten events - the exception being Thruxton - drivers in NGTC-specification cars will have one set of a new 'soft compound' Dunlop tyre at their disposal, which will offer superior performance to the standard compound tyre.
These tyres must be used in one of the three races at each event and drivers must nominate, prior to the qualifying session, which particular race they elect to use them in. However, they cannot be used for qualifying. Other teams and drivers won't know in which race their competitors have chosen to use the soft compound tyres until the cars go to the grid.
The tyres will have a special marking to make them easily identifiable for rivals as well as trackside spectators and TV audiences.
“This set of softer compound tyres is part of each driver's normal 16 per-meeting Dunlop tyre allocation, so there is no increase in the amount of tyres used. The real twist is that prior to qualifying they must nominate the actual race in which they are going to use them the next day – in that way they won't be able to use them to merely make up for a poor qualifying or race performance, for example,” explained BTCC series director, Alan Gow.
“It's sure to provide some fascinating race day strategies, as each team won't know what their opposition are doing until they head out onto the grid.
“All our teams enthusiastically supported this new regulation at a recent meeting and I'm sure the spectators will love this new element.
“I'd like to thank Dunlop for its technical expertise in helping to add yet another exciting dimension to our races.”
Organisers also clarified that if the race in which the driver has elected to use the 'softs' is wet, they must then use them in the next available dry race on that same day. There will be no carry-over or accumulation to the next race meeting - it is strictly limited to one set of soft compound tyres per car for one race per race weekend.
Also from 2013, cars may only use a full matching set of tyres when on track and will not be permitted to run a mixture of slick and wet tyres.