Sunday, 21 July 2013

The 2014 WTCC Super 2000 Touring Car Regulations...

During the weekend of the two World Touring Car Championship Porto races, two important announcements were made.
Citroen confirmed it will enter the 2014 WTCC season with Sebastian Loeb whilst also looking to secure the services of either Yvan Muller, Rob Huff or Alain Menu to partner him. 


The new 2014 Super 2000 Touring car updated regulations were confirmed...

We haven't been waiting long...Honest!!
We now know what the cars should be like for next season where at least Citroen, Lada and Honda will be represented by works teams. There is the possibility that SEAT will have their new SEAT Leon Racer in the series next year, however this is more likely to be in 205 once the series has had a year of the new reguations in force and this will likely be repesented by Customer teams with Support by SEAT.

There is talk of Renault possibly committing to a programme of cars taking part and other manufacturers reportedly tempted so either way you slice it, these new regulations are enticing in new blood to try and take the WTCC Title from the established players.

So have these new regulation have the desired effect of improving the show and enticing new manuafacturers and teams to the WTCC?


They have done exactly what it was designed to do. Series Boss Marcello Lotti wanted to spice up the show and by tweaking a good thing, you can make it better. the result is a confirmation already from Honda, Lada and Citroen of new cars and also of some form of participation from SEAT.
So what are these new Car Regulations and Sporting Regulations you may ask?

Better go get that Cup of Tea or that Iced glass of Coca-Cola...

Now then, if you're sitting comfortably, then I'll begin...
1. The cars’ minimum weight will be 1,100kg (this is currently 1,150kg)
2. The cars will now have larger 18″ wheels (they are currently 17″)
3. An increase in engine power output from the 1.6 litre Turbo's to 380bhp (this is an approx. 50-60bhp increase)
4. The cars will be a maximum width of 1,950mm (approx. 100mm wider than the current cars)
5. All cars will have a 100mm long front splitter
6. All cars will have a rear wing that can reach the height of the roof of the car, with a single plane
7. Flat floors are permitted now in all cars
8. MacPherson strut suspension will be used
9. New S2000 2014 cars performance target will be to be at least1km/h faster per km than S2000 2011 cars (in 2013 spec)
10. Current S2000 2011 cars performance target to be 0.4km/h faster per km than they are presently
So, simplifying the above, we can expect to see wider, longer, lighter, more powerful cars with an increased aerodynamic profile for next years from at least Citroen, Lada and Honda. What's also been confirmed is that any current S2000 cars taking part will be allowed an upgrade package to allow the current crop of cars to remain competitive until the whole grid of cars is fully 2014 S2000 cars.
Consider this when recalling the last major change to the WTCC Engine Regulations back in 2011 when the engine formula was changed from all cars having 2 litre Normally Aspirated Engines to having 1.6 litre Turbo engines inline with the FIA's Global Racing Engine process. This was the decision introduced by the FIA to cut costs in its major series to have all cars running to 1.6 Litre Turbo engines as this reflects the engine that is in use in most road cars by Joe Public nowadays. the World Rally Championship has this is use as does the World Touring Car Championship. Formula One will use these engines from 2014 onwards.

The 2011 WTCC Grid started with all cars except the Chevrolets having a 2.0 litre Normally Aspirated Engine. By the Japanese round at Suzuka, every car on the grid had a 1.6 litre Turbo engine. This is also the thinking of series boss Marcello Lotti with regards to next season. Whilst Citroen, Lada and Honda have confirmed that they will have new cars on the grid, this still leaves the teams that run SEAT's, BMW's and Chevrolets to decide to either upgrade their cars as permitted or seek new regulations cars as a Customer Team. So in the best interests of the series, he has agreed that Current S2000 cars run with an upgraded package alongside the newer 2014 S2000 cars. Also this allows for a large grid to take place at each round. This year there have been between 22 and 25 cars present on the grid.

Why the increased Horsepower from the new engines? Well there is a lot of fan following for Touring Car racing in the world and different Series have different Engines. the DTM uses 4 Litre air restricted V8 engines, the BTCC uses 2 Litre Turbocharged engines and the V8 Supercars use 5 Litre Normally Aspirated V8 Engines. This also allows to see the cars racing together faster and closed hopefully and harkens back to the days of the Multi-Class WTCC and ETCC where the all conquering Ford Sierra's had cars that produced over 300bhp turbo charged and were twitching as they were pitched into the corner, demand the ultimate skill from the best drivers at that time.
So basically, we can expect faster cars too...

As a possible example of what these cars could look like, SEAT has provided the SEAT Leon Racer which has been on show at each WTCC event since the Salzburgring races took place. Its also had a run out at the Goodwood Festival of Speed as well. Now as far as the Paddock is concerned if something similar joins the WTCC grid in its new regulations, it will be a team running the cars with Works Support from SEAT. However its never a bad thing having more cars on the grid whether its a Full Works effort or Works Supported.
Now its not only the cars that will change for WTCC next year. There is also a change to the Sporting Regulations to try and further improve the show:
1. Race distances will be fixed at 60km. Since the 2012 season they have been either 50km or 60km each.
2. Qualifying will now be in three parts, similar to F1 Qualifying with the top five going into Q3.
3. Standing starts will be used for both races. Previously Race One has had a Rolling Start with Race Two a Standing Start.
4. No balance of performance. Before there has been various waivers and differentiated base weights of cars in effect to try an allow differing types of cars into the championship to keep the racing competitive.
5. Compensation weight however will continue
 to be used.
So, what can we take from this?
Well the races will be several laps longer for starters. Macau for example will go from being 9 lap races up to 12 lap races (without the addition of a safety car period). this should also introduce the tyre wear factor more with cars on the cusp of suffering loss of grip by the end of the races at their current duration, now tyre management with the extra power going through the driving wheels for longer periods will necessitate for more thinking on the drivers part as to when to push and when to save that precious tyre grip.

Qualifying will likely mirror the same format as F1 Qualifying, with the Top Five now confirmed for the Q3 session and this also happens to make it easier to understand who will score points from the Top Five in Qualifying as it is. there will likely be a mandatory number of cars knocked out in Q1 and Q2.

As to the standing starts for both races, this is likely to be the case as the general feeling in the Paddock is that there will be no BMW's on the grid next year. BMW Motorsport have already explained that they can't get any more power from the engine as it is and this is evident from the power deficit all BMW's have against the other makes on the grid. So with an all Front Wheel Drive field expected next year, Standing Start even the odds from the start of each race. It also means that everyone starts in the right position and that the hopeless examples of rolling starts where the cars have to run in formation through the grid hatchings will come to an end.

There are times that the rolling starts have been hilarious...Ask the ETCC Guys...

With no balance of performance because trying to keep different performing cars at a level pace was difficult enough in other series. Example? In the BTCC between 2011 and 2012 this was in force as there were, in 2011, Normally Aspirated S2000 cars racing S2000 Turbo cars and racing NGTC Turbo cars on the same grid. Result...

HEADACHE!!! and a lot of bitching from the drivers *Cough* Jason *Cough* Plato *Cough*...

The series has enough on its plate without Drivers, Teams or Manufacturers complaining that in an FIA approved World Championship, they are being disadvantaged because of performance balancing. Its not right in a World Championship and thankfully everyone starting from a level playing field will also mean that the best Diver/Car combination will come out on top.

Cue Yvan Muller in whatever Touring Car he may drive next year...

So this leaves the one change that hasn't taken place which is the leaving in of the Compensation Ballast. To be honest, this works in WTCC. The fastest car over 3 events is made the heaviest and then the weights calculated based on times from Practice, Qualifying and the two races o work out who should get more weight and who should lose more weight. This works because as the Chevrolet Cruze has been the fastest car in the series for the past 3 season's, its been the heaviest at having 40kgs ballast to practice, Qualify and race with.

Yet its still winning races with Yvan Muller at the helm.

Can you tell I'm an Yvan Muller fan... Don't get me wrong, He's amazing in a Touring Car... I just wish someone else could bet him regularly...

I wonder if he will try RallycrossRX in 2014...

All in all this bodes well for the series and I think is a good move to make. What it also means is that the Works Teams now have the decision to make of who they want to drive for them and the Independent Teams have the choice of what car they want to run as well. It opens up the drivers market as well with at least one new manufacturer on the grid and different cars available in a field that will be as equal as possible.

A Brilliant Idea!

What is also does allow is for drivers who have the talent already in the field could make the step up to a Works seat with a Works Team. Pepe Oriola, Norbert Michelisz, Michel Nykjaer, James Nash... all drivers who could handle the pressure of a Works Team seat and also go on to further title glory. The biggest issue in the past has been so many drivers and not enough works seats available to fill them with.

This also allows drivers like Alain Menu, Rickard Rydell who have had WTCC works Team experience to re-enter the series and show their talent. Both drivers in my opinion should have been racing in WTCC this year, but don't get me started again.

But it also allows drivers like Tom Onslow-Cole to try and have a go at the World championship. Only this week via Autosport the experienced Team HARD. BTCC driver admitted that he would like to increase his GT driving and also have a stab at the WTCC as well. So again, it offers a new opportunity to those that may have been happier racing in their domestic series to have a stab at the WTCC and see what they can do.

For me, as a Touring Car fan, I think the WTCC just got better...Roll on 2014...

Well, I've rambled on enough about these new regulations and what they could mean to the WTCC next year...I'll leave it to the professionals to see what the show is like...

I think its time I caught up on the FIA European Rallycross Championship.
Commonly known as RallycrossRX...

Enjoy the Sun!!!



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