Crash.net
Jonathan, what are your thoughts on the calendar?

Jonathan Ashman:
It really goes along with what we have been planning for a long time, to gently, gently make the series more global. Certainly the original plan was to slowly expand it and Japan is somewhere we wanted to go for a long time because we keep getting interest from the Japanese manufacturers - but no-one has committed yet. Yokohama were keen to go to Japan and with their help, it is on the calendar which is the most significant addition.

Crash.net
And Mexico is there as well...

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JA:
We've been to Meixco before at Puebla but we had some problems there. Although it was a fantastic track for touring car racing and we got an enormous number of spectators, there were problems with the track surface so there are other possibilities. It hasn't been nailed down as to which of two tracks we are going to but certainly we will be back in mexico as the manufacturers regard it as a key market and almost all of them want to be there.

Crash.net
Can you reveal which two circuits they are?

JA:
Either Mexico City or Monterey, but even in Monterey there are two actual possibilities. The promoter makes the choice where we go as it is a commercial matter similar to Formula 1. The original Monterey doesn't exist anymore and there is a different track, so we need to work with the FIA to homologate the track and ensure it is safe. The Mexican people are coming to Brands Hatch for a meeting this weekend so we should know where we stand more.

Crash.net
Valencia and Brands Hatch may swap dates? How likely is that?

JA:
Very likely. This calendar is quite an early version and it is much more likely that we will go to Brands Hatch earlier in the year as that would suit in both cases.

Crash.net
There is an increase to twelve events this year from eleven. Is that increase likely to continue or will you try and keep the calendar to that level?

JA:
All along we have said twelve would be the absolute maximum, although of course there may be changes within the twelve. We don't want to go to more.

Crash.net
How might you incorporate more events? Would you do similar to Portugal where you will rotate the venue and maybe rotate countries as they plan to do in the WRC?

JA:
The choice of venue is very much a promoters choice, as the relationship between the promoter and the FIA is much the same as in Formula 1. In F1, Mr. Ecclestone has the right to choose the events and where they go, the FIA's responsibility is on circuit safety. So the FIA can veto a circuit and say it isn't safe, but it can't put another circuit in - it is down to the promoter to do what is right. In the case of World Touring Cars, the promoter works closely with the manufacturer so it is where the manufacturers want to be and where will work commercially because at the end of the day it has to do that as well.

Crash.net
Are there other countries it the frame that might join the calendar?

JA:
There are always countries asking so it will never be a fixed matter. In France for example, we have moved and in Portugal they wanted to alternate between Porto and Estoril - it wasn't from our side. Contracts are normally for three years but things will always evolve. However I don't see it going above twelve events. There is a matter of balance within Europe and outside and we only tend to go outside if it is economically viable for the teams and the Market is right so they get a lot of assistance when we do it. For example when we go to Japan, it is very much courtesy of Yokohama who will cover a lot of the transportation costs - otherwise it would be hard for the teams.

Crash.net
The other thing you are involved in is the regulations. What can you tell us about the ballast for next season and what might change?

JA:
What we have been looking at is simplifying the system a little bit as, at the moment, it is a bit difficult to understand. At the end of each race, it isn't something you can work out quickly in your mind and I have to sit and wait until someone has done the calculations as there are so many variables. We wanted something simpler and also something where, if you have success, yes it will hit you for the next race but it won't carry on for too long. It isn't 100 per cent sure, but the system we are looking at is one we looked at for this year and then at the last minute we didn't go with but I think we will be a bit bolder this time.

For every point you score in the series, you will put on a kilo - so that will be the championship side of it and be very simple. There will be no coming off of that weight and it is nice and easy to understand. In addition, there would be a race weight penalty, so whoever wins at brands Hatch would get 30 kilos of penalty that would only count for the next race and then it would be off again. It would be very easy then for people to work out and it would probably be the top six people who would be affected in each race. You would wipe the slate clean, it would be easy to remember and from the simulations we have done it works very well as what we want to do is build up to the end of the year where the top guys are on the same weight and it is down to who is the best driver in the best car on the day.

But the beauty of the system is it closes the field up as it helps the slower people to get closer which is what we want to make the races good.

Crash.net
Are you hoping the close nature of the racing this year will continue under the revised rules?

JA:
From the calculations we have done, there is little difference, I sat with the charts and applied the new system to this years results and there were a few kilos difference here and there but fundamentally we had the same results - it would just be a hell of a lot easier for people to understand!

Crash.net
Going back to the calendar, is there any idea when it will be finally confirmed?

JA:
It does have to go to the World Motor Sport Council next month and Marcello [Lotti] is quite close to getting it done. The dossier for the World Council has to be finalised in the next ten days for the October meeting so I think around then.