NEWS FROM THE AUTO TRADER RAC BRITISH TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 19/2/98
NEW TYRE RULES CONFIRMED
The final piece of the new-rules jigsaw aimed at increasing the competitiveness and spectacle of the 1998 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship was put into place today (Thurs) with the announcement of new tyre regulations by series organiser TOCA.
The new rules - which include a guarantee of parity of supply to works and independent teams - are seen as fine tuning of the championship regulations which, combined with the exciting new formats for qualifying and races, will level the playing field for competitors.
"Our aim is to ensure that the '98 BTCC will be wide open," said TOCA chief executive Alan Gow. "The new tyre rules will give independent runners access to the same compounds and constructions of tyre being used by the works teams, which will be of major benefit to them, as well as ensuring that all the works teams share the same choice of tyre. These regulations also have the added benefit of decreasing the car and tyre testing workload for the teams.
"With single-lap qualifying, Feature Race pit stops and parity of tyres, this year's championship is wider open than ever."
As part of the new tyre regs, if one tyre company is supplying all registered manufacturer teams (as is the case this season with Michelin), then this company must supply any registered competitor on their normal commercial terms if called on to do so. Also, each tyre firm can supply only three choices of specification of 'slick', dry-weather tyre at each race meeting, and those same tyres must be available in sufficient quantity to all competitors who have nominated that tyre supplier.
TOCA has also announced that the exciting new format for the second qualifying session of each meeting will be known as the "One-Shot Showdown", with all competitors allowed just one timed lap to set their grid position for the shorter Sprint Race at each double-header BTCC meeting. With mandatory pit stops planned for the longer Feature Race of each meeting, the omens for an all-action championship year couldn't be more promising. The season gets underway at Thruxton on Easter Monday (Apr 13).
Entries for the championship close on February 27. A full entry list will be published during the first week of March.
-- Championship website www.btcc.co.uk