The British Touring Car Championship has announced a raft of rule changes for the 2018 season, including harsher penalties for driving standards infringements.
Driving standards were a major talking point during the 2017 season, with a spate of incidents at the penultimate round of the season at Silverstone prompting series director Alan Gow to issue a threat of simplifying the process of banning drivers.
Effective from the opening round of next season, TOCA has reformed the championship’s strike system and the penalties applied for each number of strike a driver racks up.
As has been the case until now, drivers will be sent to the back of the grid for a third offence and receive a race ban for a fourth, but any further offences will result in subsequent two- and three-race bans (for fifth and sixth strikes respectively).
A seventh strike will mean a driver is banned from the championship for the remainder of the season.
Any strikes awarded for incidents will also last for 12 months from the date they are accrued, a change from the current system that wipes strikes at the end of the same season.
Fines for any incidents have been increased by an undisclosed amount, with a “significant additional championship fine” set to be applied on top of any MSA fine.
The series has also clarified: “A relatively minor but straightforward on-track incident, involving and affecting only two cars, that can be simply rectified by swapping their finishing positions post-race (or which has already been fully redressed within one lap by the offending driver) will not necessarily constitute a ‘strike’.”
Boost changes will now take place once per season “if required” after the adjustment process was freed up during 2017.
The partial-reversed grid draw has also been extended to include the cars finishing sixth to 12th in the second race, while teams will now be allowed to make two permanent driver changes each season (up from one).
Drivers and team managers will be required to pass a regulations test before they are able to compete, and the Jack Sears Trophy has been opened up slightly to make all drivers without a previous podium finish eligible.
TOCA has also invested in commissioning six large LED light panels for use by marshals, which will be transported to each event.