WTCC revamps race format, increases ballast for 2016

The World Touring Car Championship will flip around the first and second races for 2016, with an increased focus on promoting the second race of the day as the “main” event.

It has also adjusted the compensation weight calculation, which now will see the top performing cars carry as much of 80kg of ballast.

The WTCC confirmed that the reverse grid race will now take place first on Sunday, with the conventional fastest-starts-first grid now in race two, which will be branded as the “main race” from 2016.

The main race will be also longer than the first race, which is subject to ratification by the FIA World Motor Sport Council next week.

The championship had already confirmed it will implement a cycle racing inspired post-qualifying time trial event called MAC3 after qualifying on Saturday, with the shift of Sunday’s order the newest revisions for the WTCC's weekend schedule.

“We proposed to the Touring Car Commission to change the racing format next year,” said Head of Eurosport Events Francois Ribeiro. “It’s something we’ve had in mind with the FIA for a while.

"I’ve always found it difficult to call it race one and race two. The second race is the most spectacular, but it’s not the most important sporting wise.

"So we and all the teams, drivers and manufacturers had that debate, we were around the table and we collectively decided to reverse race one next year, call it the opening race, and go for the main race immediately after, and the main race will be a bit longer.”

He added: “I think it will help the understanding of viewers and spectators about the weekend, and I hope it will make the overall structure of the weekend easier to explain.”

There were suggestions to introduce a second qualifying session to determine the grid for the two races, but Ribeiro says the organisation was against this idea.

“It’s very important for privateers and newcomers to keep the reverse grid. Touring cars were the first to implement it a long time ago, and I think it’s part of touring car racing's DNA,” he said.

As well as the changes to the race schedule, there will be new changes in the way compensation weight is calculated.

It is understood that the 0.5s leeway before compensation weight is applied will be reduced, while Ribeiro confirmed that the three-race weekend rolling calculation will be shortened to just one.

And the scale will increase from a maximum of 60kg to 80kg next year, meaning the most competitive manufacturer at one race meeting will be running at 1,180kg at the next.

The non-European events will also drop FP0 from next year, with a shakedown behind the safety car taking place instead.

The safety car shakedown was first trialled at the Hungaroring earlier this year, with many teams taking part in the Budapest street parade on Friday.

Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes

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