Tour de France-style team time trials for WTCC

WTCC to propose innovative format to enhance profile of Manufacturers’ Championship

Tour de France-style team time trials will be contested at every round of next year’s FIA World Touring Car Championship in a first for global motorsport, WTCC promoter Eurosport Events is thrilled to announce.

The new format was approved by the FIA Touring Car Commission at its last meeting and will now follow the usual FIA approval procedure for inclusion in the WTCC Sporting Regulations for 2016.

‘Manufacturers Against the Clock’ (MAC3) will put team competition to the fore at each WTCC event in 2016 with extensive live broadcasting and live streaming on Eurosport and through a live world feed.

The WTCC’s registered car makes will nominate three drivers to take part in MAC3, which will take place straight after the completion of Qualifying Q3. They will score points towards their WTCC Manufacturers’ Championship totals and benefit from an extended live broadcasting, live streaming and digital coverage package to drive more value to the Manufacturers’ Championship, while offering new story-telling opportunities. And this is how it works:

MAC3 in five

1: The clock starts when the first of three cars from a manufacturer ‘team’ crosses the starting line from a standing start, and stops as soon as the last car has completed the required number of laps

2: At the Nürburgring Nordschleife this will be one lap. For all other circuits a minimum distance of 10 kilometres must be covered

3: The fastest team of three will win MAC3 at each event and score 10 points towards the WTCC Manufacturers’ Championship. The second best manufacturer will earn eight points and so on until all points are allocated (on a scale of 10-8-6-3-2-1)

4: Although parc fermé will be operational between the finish of Qualifying Q3 and the start of MAC3, cars can be refuelled and fitted with a new set of tyres

5: Manufacturer teams will contest MAC3 in reverse championship order to heighten the drama and create an even bigger buzz

Q&A: François Ribeiro (Head of Eurosport Events)

Why MAC3?

“Every manufacturer competing in FIA world championships will tell you that the most important title to bring home is the manufacturers’ world title. Paradoxically, the drivers’ title always gets the most media exposure. MAC3 is designed to promote the WTCC Manufacturers’ Championship title in a different way and widen its appeal so that it becomes a bit more than the addition of the two best results from the drivers in each race, and a points classification at the end of each race.”

What do you hope to achieve?

“MAC3 will drive more value to WTCC factory teams, it will enhance the spectators’ experience after Qualifying, it will increase broadcast volume, it will offer new stories to media and will introduce a true collective effort parameter into the WTCC Manufacturers’ Championship title, which is a very positive value for a brand. It will require teams to line up three good and consistent drivers who will have to drive together and help each other, straight after they’ve given a very individual effort in Qualifying.

It will be interesting to follow the dynamic within each factory team. There have been many occasions when we have witnessed driving mistakes in Q3. If a selected driver is over-driving in MAC3, he will penalise the entire team. If the drivers are running too far apart from each other, they will be too conservative.

The closer they are to each other, the risk of a collision increases. I am curious to see what strategy car manufacturers will deploy on each circuit, especially on fast circuits such as the Nürburgring Nordschleife, and to see how drivers will execute strategies. We have creative ideas to bring this on-air in a very innovative way.”

Is it risky to blend a concept from cycling with motorsport?

“Eurosport Events is, at the same time, a promoter and a broadcaster. This is a good position to be in to innovate new formats and deliver a good experience to fans and viewers. Back in 2009, Eurosport Events sat down around the table with experts from alpine skiing and cycling to define how live broadcasting of rallying on a large scale could work and it worked very well on Rallye Monte-Carlo. There is nothing wrong with taking risks. We did not force MAC3 on our teams. We explained to them the benefits, involved the FIA at a very early stage, and experienced a rather positive level of openness from them in return. We will need to be effective in the way we film and communicate on MAC3 to clearly explain how it works, but I feel the risk was much higher to bring WTCC to the Nordschleife as part of Nürburgring 24 Hours!”

MAC3 is not open to all WTCC drivers. Why not?

“MAC3 intends to raise the value of the WTCC Manufacturers’ title, so it will be restricted to manufacturers registered with the FIA for the WTCC. Still, factory teams will have the opportunity to appoint any driver they want, official or privateer, as long as they drive for the same brand. Nothing would prevent Citroën Racing from offering that opportunity to its privateer driver Mehdi Bennani at his home race in Marrakech, for example.”

Are you not just increasing the costs of competing in the WTCC?

“You are right, it will modestly cost each manufacturer a set of new tyres, a few litres of fuel and bit of testing to dress rehearse their strategy. In return we will increase the duration of the WTCC TV world feed by 20 per cent for each event and introduce something totally new to motorsport, which will create its own interest to spectators and viewers. I think it should be a good investment.”

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