Monday, 24 February 2014

BTCC Update... 24th February 2014...

So its been a relatively quiet week for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and news and updates coming out for the 2014 season...

But there has been some news...

On Tuesday last week, several BTCC Teams headed to Thruxton to gether some testing data in somewhat wet conditions. Aiden Moffat suffered a big accident whilst avoiding a rabbit, causing damage to his NGTC Chevrolet Cruze. However he has since reported that the Cruze will be ready for more testing and will be at Media Day.

Also at the test were Sam Tordoff and Marc Hynes for MG, Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden for Honda, Andrew Jordan and Martin Depper for Pirtek Honda, Glynn Geddie and James Cole for United Autosport, Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and Nick Foster for WSR and Rob Austin for RAR/Exocet Racing.

Honda tested their Civic Tourer and Civic Hatchback again with Shedden suffering a small fire in the pits during the day. Meanwhile the RWD Teams of RAR/Exocet Racing reported good progress from last years data.

Tim Harvey confirmed that he has signed up to stay in the BTCC commentary box with David Addison until the end of the 2016 season on ITV4. Harvey joined Ben Edwards in the BTCC Commentary box in 2003 and last year was a big hit when teamed with David Addison.

Airwaves Racing were out testing at Brands Hatch last week with the new 2014 NGTC Ford Focus. There is a noticeable change on the front end of the  car with a new aerodynamics package on the car. Airwaves have confirmed that Fabrizio Giovanardi will drive one of the new cars however the other two drivers are not confirmed yet.

Team Boss Dave Bartrum has confirmed that two cars will run under the Airwaves banner whilst the third Focus will be a satellite team. Rumours currently put Jack Clark, Stepson of former F1 & BTCC driver Julian Bailey in the third Focus.

United Autosports have shaken down their second and newly built NGTC Toyota Avensis for their planned two car assault on the BTCC this season. With pictures shown on social media, the 2nd Avensis was shook down by Glynn Geddie. The team had already purchased the assets and Toyota Avensis from the Dynojet outfit that took part for the past three seasons. Both drivers took part in the test at Thruxton.

Finally 1989 & 1995 BTCC Champion has given his endorsement and support of the quality of the drivers, driver talent and NGTC Cars that have been announced for the 2014. Cleland explained that the quality of the driving talent, including 7 former BTCC Champions competing, shows that the championship has improved and doesnt need the "10-12 Manufacturer Teams" that took part in the SuperTouring days. Cleland himself has confirmed he will be racing his 1997 Vauxhall Vectra in the Historic Super Touring Cup at the BTCC Oulton Park meeting.

So, more testing is taking place and we still have four seats to be filled before the official list is announced on 18th March at the BTCC Media Day being held at Donington Park. There are two seats at Airwaves, One seat at Rob Austin Racing/Exocet Racing and one at Speedworks Motorsport. There are still big names missing such as Mat Jackson, Lea Wood and Tom Onslow-Cole with no plans announced. TOC was testing an Aston Martin GT3 car at Portimao last week with former BTCC Drivers Jonny Adam, Alex MacDowall and current champion Andrew Jordan.

But all will be revealed at Media Day at what I am certain is going to be a very popular and crowded Media Day event with such a highly talented crop of drivers announced.

All the best,


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

WTCC 2014: The story so far...

With all the hype of the British Touring Car Championship having 7 former champions competing this year on a capacity grid of NGTC cars and the new FIA World Rallycross Championship gaining star talent such as Jacques Villeneuve & Tanner Foust and Works Teams be entered by Ford, VW and Peugeot, both series seem to be putting the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship in the shade almost.

So I thought I'd put something together about what is known so far for the World Championship.

This year, the WTCC goes into a new set of regulations for the car and series itself. The cars still have 1.6 litre turbo petrol engines, but now they produce 380bhp instead of 300bhp. Add to this that the cars now have a slightly more aerodynamic package, they are lighter and you can see that the new TC1 cars will be giving an even better show already.

I've spoken of this in a previous post but this years new regulations are called "Super 2000 2014." However since the introduction of the original Super 2000 Touring Car regulations in 2003, theres been some changes. So to make this easier, The FIA has introduced a new recognition system. TC1 cars are built to the new regulations. TC2 cars are Super 2000 that use the original 1.6 litre Turbo engine that produces 300bhp. These are cars used in the WTCC from 2011 to 2013.

TC2 cars are eligible in the Yokohama Trophy this year but they will be 1.5 seconds slower per kilometre than the brand new TC1 cars. So to give an example, TC2 cars would be 9 seconds a lap slower than TC1 cars on the Suzuka East circuit...

To add to this, the sporting regulations have been updated. Both races will have standing starts. There is no more rolling start for race one. Qualifying will also change. This will be split into three sessions. Q1 will determine who goes through to the top 12 in Q2. Q2 will determine the top 10 to be reversed for the Race Two start. However Q3 will be a one lap Superpole for the top five cars from Q2, to determine who will take pole position for race one. Points will also be scored by thr five cars in Q3 as well. The races will now be a mandatory 60kms in duration. There will also be testing on Friday at every venue except Moscow & Macauu.

Now, due to the new regulations, there are some changes in driver and manufacturer lineups...

First, Citroen Racing have decided to enter the World Championship. They will field three full time Citroen C-Elysse Saloons for Four time WTCC Champion Yvan Muller, Nine time WRC Champion Sebastien Loeb and Argentinian TC2000 Champion Jose Maria Lopez. A fourth entry will appear in the Asian WTCC rounds.

Citroen have been testing the car since late last year and have had a full testing programme underway, testing the car at Monza, Abu Dhabi and several other venues. Whilst Loeb and Lopez will learn steeply, Muller is expected to start on the best foot for defending his 2013 Title.

Next, Honda will field four of the new TC1 Honda Civics. Two will be raced by the works team with Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Montiero staying on. Hungarian team Zengo Motorsport will run one car for Norbert Michelisz whilst Italian Team Scuderia Proteam will run a single car for Morrocan driver Mehdi Benanni. Proteam were originally a stalwart BMW WTCC customer team so securing a Honda is new territory for them.

Honda only recently began testing the new car and have admitted that they will be on catchup with Citroen, however they are well up to the task and they are aiming high this year, looking to take race wins and challenge for the Drivers and Manufacturers titles.

Lada is the third manufacturer this year in the WTCC. They are fielding three Lada Granta Sport WTCC ebtries that are updated to the new TC1 regulations. As well as running James Thompson and Michael Kozilovskiy, they are joined by 2012 WTCC Champion Rob Huff. Thompson and Huff are well known as drivers who can help bring the best from a Touring Car and Lada are hoping that all three drivers can pose a serious challenge to Honda and Citroen.

Lada have also just started testing at Magny Cours in France so they will be looking to be fast and reliable from the off. Last year Thompson was capable of regular top six finishes, so more is expected with Huff now on board and a years worth of data from last years championship.

The fourth brand in the WTCC is RML-Chevrolet. Whilst this is not a works programme, RML have taken the decision to build an updated version of the all conquering Chevrolet Cruze to the TC1 regulations. RML will only be building the cars and supplying them to Customer teams with support offered. They will not be running a team as they seek to return in 2015 with a Works effort potentially with another manufacturer.

There could be up to six Cruze's on the grid this year with four confirmed so far. Former BMW customer team ROAL Motorsport has announced that they will run two cars for Tom Coronel and Tom Chilton. Meanwhile Spanish team Campos Racing has announced that they will run two cars for Frenchman Hugo Valente and popular Serbian Dusan Borkovic. There could be two more Cruze's on the grid but there is no confirmation of these yet.

RML have explained they hope to have these cars to their customers in March however never count out a car built by the Wellingborough concern. They know their stuff and I wouldnt be surprised if one of the cars took a win during the season.

Now there will be a fifth effort taking part in the WTCC this season and its been a secret until January. Mike Earle ran Team Aon in the BTCC for ten years until stepping up to the WTCC in 2012 with Tom Chilton and James Nash driving two Ford Focus WTCC's. However with no support in 2013 from Ford, the team closed it doors.

Well in 2014, Mike is back in the WTCC. In January he announced that he was resurrecting the Onyx Race Engineering Brand used in Formula One in the late 1980's to take part in a five year WTCC project. Now there is no confirmation of drivers yet or what car is being used as we await confirmation. Speculation ties young Spaniard Pepe Oriola to the team but we still await who will be driving what for Onyx Race Engineering.

Now with regards to the TC2 Yokohama Trophy entry, nothing has been confirmed. What is known is that Campos intend to field several SEAT Leon WTCC's and thats it possible Engstler and Weichers Sport could return with their BMW 320TC's.

However, the all conquering Chevrolet Cruze has been banned from taking part due to what is seen as a car that has an advantage over the rest. Apart from this, it will be interesting to see who will be fighting it out for Yokohama Trophy honours. There is also a cash prize for the winner of the Trophy as in previous years.

The series will also use different circuits this year as well with a change from the East Circuit at Suzuka to using the full Grand Prix Circuit. The series is also making a debut appearence at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France and a return to the Spa-Francochamps Circuit in Belgium, which the WTCC last used in its first season in 2005.

Now whilst all of this looks to be another Tintop championship that is going to have a bumper year. But for the WTCC there is a price and "Price" is the key word.

The reason is that this year there are currently 16 TC1 seats taken and being raced. However a lot of drivers who want to race in TC1 machinery who are Indepedent Drivers have already complained of the price of purchasing a TC1 Chevrolet and that in many cases its simply not affordable.

For the past few seasons, the WTCC has had a good driver base due to the many Independent drivers that took part and bulked up the field as in the BTCC. But with with the TC1 seats being filled and TC2 not presenting a "competitive option" to many teams, drivers are going elsewhere in 2014.

Stefano D'Aste, Charles Ng,
Michel Nykjaer and Darryl O'Young have already confirmed they will not take part this year. Tom Coronel and Pepe Oriola have also voiced how difficult it is to afford a drive this year.

In fact with the FIA European Touring Car Cup confirming that it will allow TC2 cars to compete with TC3 cars (Normally Aspirated S2000 Touring Cars) in 2014, the ETCC would seem to offer a more competitive option in the immediate future. There has been talk of Nykjaer returning to the ETCC and trying to win a third Cup.

Budget and lack of a Works seat is also another reason as to why tintop legends such as Alain Menu and Fabrizio Giovanardi have chosen to race in the BTCC this season. There is also speculation that 2013 WTCC Independent Champion James Nash could return of late...

However, if you remember, the BTCC also went through this change when moving from Super 2000 regulations to NGTC regulations. In 2011 four NGTC cars started the season. In 2014 at least 30 NGTC cars will compete in the BTCC.

So there is hope for more TC1 cars entering the WTCC in seasons to come. RML is seeking a new Manufacturer Contract, Lada plans to introduce the 2015 Priora Model built to TC1 regulations and Volvo is re-entering Worldwide Touring Car series with expanded entries in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship in the past few seasons and a new 2 car entry in the International V8 Supercars Championship, so it possible to see more manufacturer entries and more cars built to TC1 Regs.

So in my humble opinion, things for the WTCC look just as exciting in 2014 as they do for the BTCC, World RallycrossRX and even Formula One.

Trust me on this one, The FIA World Touring Car Championship is looking very good...



Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Whats the attraction???... The 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship

2014 seems to be a year of change in Motorsport with many championships using new rules for the first time or attracting new drivers and returning big name drivers and new manufacturers.

Now I'm going to concentrate on two series that have attracted more interest this year because of current rules. One is the UK's biggest domestic series The British Touring Car Championship, whilst the other is the new formed FIA World Rallycross Championship. In this post, I'll be writing about the new FIA World Rallycross Championship.

Now last year, what was the FIA European Rallycross Championship reinvented itself as RallycrossRX, maintaining its Supercar rules using cars that are 4 wheel drive using 2 litre turbocharged engines that produce 600bhp plus. Allied with a 1 hour highlights programme that was shown on satellite channel British Eurosport showcasing the Supercar, Touring Car and S1600 catergories, this proved an instant hit with the action being fast, frantic and exciting.

What also proved successful were the drivers that were attracted to the series. Former WRC Champion Petter Solberg, Timmy Hansen, son of Rallycross legend Kevin Hansen, Gymkhana star Tanner Foust and the UK's own Liam Doran, son of Rallycross legend Pat Doran were just a few that took part during the season whilst one off guest appearances from 9 time WRC Champion Sebastian Leob and former DTM Champion Mattias Ekstrom further ramped up the profile of the Championship during the season.

Along came September and the FIA World Motorsport Council decided that the European Championship would become an FIA World Championship in 2014 using the same rules package but expanding the series from 9 rounds in 2013 to 12 rounds in 2014. The European Championship would remain over a 5 round series held at the same events in Europe as the World Championship. Eurosport announced that it would upgrade its coverage at 8 of the events as live whilst delayed highlights would cover the other 4 rounds.

The result?

WorldRX was born.

The response for the 2014 World RX season has been phenomenal...

First of all there has been Manufacturer Support confirmed from 3 different makes: Ford, Peugeot and Volkswagen. Ford will support the Swedish OMSE team, Peugeot will support Hansen Motorsport whilst VW are supporting Marklund Motorsport.

Then there are the driver lineups already confirmed showcasing some amazing motorsport talent. 1997 F1 Champion Jacques Villeneuve has confirmed he will join British WorldRX team Albatec Racing Boss Andy Scott in a two car team running Peugeot 208's. Anton Marklund is joined at the VW Marklund Motorsport team by Global Rallycross Star Topi Heikenen whilst Tanner Foust will contest several rounds for the team also. Andreas Bakkerud and Reiniss Nitiss are both confirmed at the Swedish Ford OMSE team for the full season, being joined by 2013 British Touring Car Champion Andrew Jordan for the UK round at Lydden Hill only. Liam Doran is returning with a two car team whilst Petter Solberg has expanded to a two car effort with Alexander Hvaal joining him. Johan Kristoffersson is joining the series full time driving a VW built by VW Dealer Team Sweden.

Thats another point in the benefit of the European Championship becoming a World Championship, where teams are expanding from single car lineups in 2013 to multiple car lineups in 2014 and attracting Manufacturer support in the process as a Teams Title has been created for 2014. Now the teams can go for glory with two drivers where as last year there was only the outright Drivers Title to be won.

Whilst the coverage is mostly live this year, the series is expanding from 9 events to 12 with rounds from Argentina, Turkey and Canada being included in the calendar which opens the championship up to more viewers and also get more coverage to local talent to compete on home soil as well as the World Stage.

But what is the big pull is that the regulations havent changed and that last year the championship pulled in big figures for both Television and Online viewership and crowd figures from the venues themselves. People were flocking to these two day events where there is plenty of non stop action taking place with the various heats and finals taking place. The fans get the oppurtunity to meet the drivers and teams closeup, getting autographs and a chance at seeing the Supercars closeup that compete in the championship whilst Social Media has been a big move with lots of the competing drivers and teams using Twittet, Facebook and the like to give updates on Car Progress and Driver signings.

So in conclusion, the reason behind Rallycross RX becoming World RX is simple: the upgrade of the series to a World Championship with no change in regulations has increased peoples participation and grown the series further in terms of Entrants, Calendar and Coverage allowing the fans to get involved first hand and closeup.

Now, this year theres plenty going on with new rules and new entrants in such series as Formula One, World Touring Car Championship, The DTM, The British Touring Car Championship, The World Endurance Championship and V8 Supercars... But if you fancy something different to watch in motorsport terms, I recommend the FIA World Rallycross Championship or WorldRX.



Monday, 17 February 2014

BTCC Update: 17th February 2014...

Well it was a bumper week that was packed with lots of news and updates for BTCC fans ahead of the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season. A lot of the updates also locked down who will be driving where, with who and in what...

So, here are the updates...

1. ebay/WSR confirmed that their 2013 lineup of Colin Turkington, Rob Collard & Nick Foster will return to drive the eBay sponsored NGTC BMW 1 series. The team will begin testing on Tuesday 18th at Thruxton, however Turkington is eyeing a title push with the little BMW this year...

2. Marc Hynes tested his 888 prepared MG6 at Oulton Park last week along with Sam Tordoff as both drivers gained more mileage in the MG. Rob Austin was also out testing his re-shelled Audi A4 at Oulton as well. Austin is reported to be very happy with the updates for Sherman.

3. Tom Ingram confirmed that he will drive for Speedworks, piloting one of their NGTC Toyota's this season. Ingram will be joined in the team by a 2nd entry to be announced before Media Day, whilst Speedworks is supporting Simon Belcher and Handy Motorsport with their Toyota Avensis.

4. Fabrizio Giovanardi tested his Airwaves Focus at Brands Hatch in a combined shakedown/test session for the Italian. Airwaves Boss Dave Bartrum reported that he was very happy with Gio's feedback and is still looking to finalise the teams lineup for Media Day.

5. Shaun Hollamby was on shakedown duty for his AmD team as he shook the Focus down at Brands as well with Dave Newsham taking over testing duties before Media Day. Meanwhile at Donington Park, Yuasa Honda were out testing both the Honda Civic Tourer and the Honda Civic Hatchback whilst Pirtek Honda had both Jordan and Depper out in their Civics. Rob Austin was also present at the Donington Park test where he completed 60 laps in "Sherman" his popular Audi A4. Austin is confident in being able to challenge the top teams this season.

6. Simon Belcher was out at Silverstone on Friday testing his Handy Motorsport NGTC  Toyota Avensis at Silverstone. Tom Ingram was also at Silverstone out testing his Speedworks Toyota. Although conditions were  not ideal, Ingram is confident he can score some top ten finishes in the first half of the season.

7. BTC Racing have confirmed that their title sponsor for the 2014 season will be Power Maxed with the team confirming it will be racing as "Power Maxed Racing" with the NGTC Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback. The car is due to be seen in its first test during Media Day on 18th March with Chris Stockton confirmed to drive the car.

8. Andy Neate has confirmed that he has mothballed his IP Tech Race Engineering team for now and will be making a return to the BTCC in 2015. He has made it cllear that his return will be a fresh approach using the lessons he has learned from setting up his own team last year. The NGTC Chevrolet Cruze Saloon Neate campaigned in 2013 has been sold to Aiden Moffat who will campaign the car this year in his family run team.

9. Finally, the test at Thruxton on 18th February has confirmed that the following teams will attend:
Yuasa Honda Racing
Pirtek Honda
Triple Eight/MG
United Autosports
RAR/Exocet Racing
& ebay/WSR.

So as you can see, the jigsaw is almost complete. With the TBL licences in effect and the confirmation that 31 TBL's will be used, this now leaves 4 seats to be filled:

1 seat at Speedworks Motorsport
2 seats at Airwaves Racing
1 seat at RAR/Exocet Racing.

This also leaves one TBL held by series boss Alan Gow to hand out to whom he sees fit during the season. Lea Wood has confirmed that, all being well, he will release his "interesting" plans this week regarding his participation in the BTCC.

However the big news still surrounds the two vacant Airwaves seats. With Giovanardi making it clear that he is going for a third BTCC title, speculation still has a number of drivers vying for the other sests, one of which will operate as a satellite team. In an ideal world with budget no problem, you would expect Mat Jackson and Tom Onslow-Cole to join Giovanardi...

But both drivers have been quiet during the off season and names such as Steven Kane and Michael Caine have been mentioned. In fact, it might be possible this could be the first season in a while we may not see Jackson or TOC in a BTCC car. Jackson himself has been a stalwart Airwaves/Motorbase driver since 2010 and in 2011 was a title contender for both the outright drivers title and the Independent title...

But Airwaves/Motorbase has long been regarded as the team that should have won a BTCC title by now. With the team being restructured, a budget increase being applied and a former Double British Touring Car Championship signed on board, this year they may just make that step up to challenge the might of Team Dynamics and Triple Eight who have dominated the championship title fight in recent years...

Either way the next few weeks will be part of an amazing buildup to what is fast becoming the biggest, possibly most classic and titanic fight yet for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Personally I can't wait.



Saturday, 8 February 2014

BTCC Update... 8 February 2014

Wow!! Well we've had a cracking week of announcements for the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car season which is due to kick off at the end of March and the hype is just building and building!!

So, heres what we have...

1. Motorbase/Airwaves Racing have announced that they have signed 2007 & 2008 Double BTCC Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi. He will pilot one of the teams NGTC Fords whilst his two team-mates will be announced in due course.

Team boss Dave Bartrum admitted he's tried to sign the Italian driver since he lost his drive with Triple Eight in 2010. Giovanardi confirmed on Twitter today that he will be testing out his Ford Focus on Thursday next week...

2. Aiden Moffat has confirmed that his family run team will compete as Laser Tools Racing this season in the NGTC Chevrolet Cruze they purchased from Andy Neate. Moffat has also been testing the Cruze as well.

I'm picking this driver/team combination as my dark horse for some cracking performances during the season...

3. Pirtek Racing have had their first 2014 test at Brands Hatch this week. 2013 Champion Andy Jordan and his 2014 team-mate Martin Depper completed testing on the Indy Circuit, looking to further improve the setup on the NGTC Honda Civic and allow both Jordan and Depper to further hone their driving skills with the car.

4. The 2014 BTCC driver market is due to take another twist in the coming weeks with the expected driver announcement from eBay Motors/West Surrey Racing. They were due to announce the lineup on Thursday, this has now been postponed whilst driver negotiations continue. They have also dropped a hint that its possible they could sign a former Australian V8 Supercars driver as part of the lineup.

Current fan speculation has various drivers suggested for the lineup, including Colin Turkington, Rob Collard, Nick Foster, Tom Onslow-Cole, Stephen Jelley, Alex MacDowall and the mystery V8 Supercar driver...

5. BTC Racing, who are fielding the NGTC Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback, have confirmed that Chris Stockton will drive for them this season. They have also announced via their twitter feed that they will be announcing a title sponsor in the next few days...

6. Finally, Frank Wrathall who drove for the family run team Dynojet has been sentenced to 21 months in prison after being found guilty to death by careless driving. Wrathall was involved in a fatal collision with a cyclist on May 14th 2012 near his home in Preston. He has also been disqualified from driving for four years.

The team confirmed that it sold its assets and TBL's to new BTCC entrant United Autosports.

So we have some good points and some bad points. Regarding the news about Frank Wrathall, I will not give opinion on this matter. However I will say it is a shame when someone involved in motorsport is brought to the headlines in this way. For those of you who have long memories, I am sure you will be reminded of the circumstances surrounding Vic Lee and his Vic Lee Motorsport squad.

As for the signing of Giovanardi at Airwaves, this brings the total of BTCC Champions taking part this season to six!! With the return of Alain Menu announced at Team BMR and championship stalwarts Jordan, Plato, Shedden and Neal confirmed to return, the BTCC has taken a step forward in regards to driver quality and the draw of the UK's biggest domestic motorsport series showing such a good show that the best Touring Car driver talent in the world want to race in the BTCC.

Giovanardi is a mutiple European Touring Car champion, having won Italian, Spanish, European and British Touring Car titles during his career. His battles with Jason Plato for BTCC titles are as legendary as Plato's battles with Matt Neal. However Gio has made it clear he's going for BTCC Title No.3 this year to join Matt Neal as Triple BTCC Champion.

Make no mistake. This season there will be no quarter asked and none given. Bumpers will be torn off, Wing Mirrors will fly and door panels will be dented. The driving talent announced so far this year is so high already and the competition being so close that people are talking of how the 2014 season will be reminiscent of the driving talent that the Manufacturer Teams brought in during the Super Touring/FIA Class 2 days from 1991 to 2000.

I think we are in for an amazing season that will offer amazing racing and epic highs and lows with the man who becomes 2014 British Touring Car Champion knowing that he will have beaten the best to the title in a field that is the best of the best.

I can't wait!!!



Tuesday, 4 February 2014

FIA World RallycrossRX: How the series went from strength to strength... In one year...

In early 2013, quite by accident, I discovered a full colour supplement in a copy of Autosport outlining the big players of the newly revamped for 2013 FIA European Rallycross Championship.

And my interest was sparked...

As I browsed through the list, two names caught my eye. 2003 WRC Champion Petter Solberg and British Rallycross ace Liam Doran, son of Rallycross legend Pat Doran.

Now I'm not a big fan of rallying, however I was already interested in Solbergs plans as it was mentioned he could make a move into Touring Car racing. I recall watching the British Rallycross Grand Prix on the BBC from Brands Hatch as a child and something about this series made me want to watch.

With the championship sponsored by Monster Energy and getting a 1 hour highlights programme on Eurosport covering the events of each weekend, coverage of the championship soared. It was a new series for me and my son Aaron who was an instant supporter of Liam Doran and Andreas Bakkerud (due to them being sponsored by Monster) and 2012 Champion Timur Timerzyanov (because he's russian and sponsored by Red Bull...)

Theres a pattern there...

Big names took part during the season in either partial programmes or one off appearances such as Tanner Foust, Mattias Ekstrom, Sebastian Loeb and Tommy Rustad. This pulled in the crowds and viewership for the series and what added to this was that the racing in each round was fantic and hectic and close. It was never clear who the heat winner or the final winner would be.

To add to this aspect, viewing figures for the Championship grew round by round and the spectator figures at each round were getting larger and larger, especially in countries such as France, UK, Norway and Sweden where home grown Rallycross talent is in abundance and the sport is popular.

And then came a thought...from more than one person involved in the championship...

What if the series became a World Championship?

As the season carried on, murmurs began circulating in a familiar, similar way to the process that revived the World Touring Car Championship in 2005. That began life as the European Touring Car Championship and several years later became an FIA sanctioned World Championship. In the European Rallycross Championship, the same thing happened but in a much shorter timescale...


In September 2013 The FIA granted the series to be promoted as an FIA World Championship for 2014 and this move has caused massive interest for the 2014 season. The FIA European Rallycross Championship will continue of 5 events whilst the World Championship will take place over 12 events, encompassing the 5 European events.

Ford has pledged manufacturer support for Swedish Rallycross sensation Andreas Bakkerud whilst Peugeot have announced a manufacturer backed entry with Rallycross legend Kenneth Hansen for an entry for his son Timmy.

Plenty of entries have been announced apart from these as well. Liam Doran and his team are hard at work to build two cars to gain manufacturer support whilst Petter Solberg is expanding to a two car entry with Alexander Hvaal joining him for the 2014 season. Anton Marklund has also announced a two car team, returning with two VW Polo Supercars. Even WTCC regulars Munnich Motorsport, who campaigned three SEAT Leon's for Rob Huff, Marc Basseng and Team Boss Rene Munnich have built an Audi A3 Supercar to campaign throughout the 2014 season.

Now, I find when talking to a lot of people outside of Social Media about Motorsport that their first thought is "Oh yes, its boring, just like that Formula One!"

I find it a lot...

Well I champion the cause of Touring Cars all the time in this case, explaining how the BTCC has 3 40 minute races on a Sunday thats much more exciting and devoid of any politics. I also explain the fun aspect that the WTCC also offers as well, with Touring Cars racing on the same circuits used by Formula One but offering exciting races (Hungary for example...)

Well I'm also now going to recommend to anyone who has cable or satellite, to give World Rallycross a go. The cars are still recognisable on the outside, however underneath they are 600bhp, 4 wheel drive, race prepared monsters who have starts that could give an F1 car serious competition and where the racing is, if its possible, closer than Touring Car racing can be.

So this year, apart from my usual focus on Formula One, BTCC, WTCC, ETCC & DTM, I will also be keeping a keen eye on the World Rallycross Championship for a 2nd season as it hits the world stage and I will be looking to learn more about this sport to impart to you, my readers.

Especially the heat system. I need to get my head round that one...

I will also add that I am looking forward to the UK round of the championship from Lydden Hill in May as its now been been confirmed that 2013 BTCC champion Andrew Jordan will be taking part in that round with the Swedish Ford team in a Fiesta Supercar.

Thats got my interest even more.

So if you have Eurosport, give the 2014 FIA World Rallycross Championship this year and see if it offers an alternative to the usual single seater and tintop coverage out there. You can also follow updates from the championship on Facebook & Twitter by searching for "RallycrossRX".



Sunday, 2 February 2014

BTCC Update... 2 February 2014

Well we are now into february, a month where traditionally the teams and drivers that are planning to take part in the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship generally begin to start testing.

In the meantime heres the news thats been announced recently...

1. On 24th of January, Jack Goff announced that he would be staying with Tean BMR, the new name for Team HARD. from 2013. Goff confirmed that he would be driving the same Vauxhall Insignia he did in 2013. However he confirmed that there are a eaft of updates to be tested before the season begins.

2. Team BMR followed this announcement up by confirming the rest of their four car driver lineup through an online video release. They have pulled off a massive coup by signing 1997 & 2000 BTCC Champion Alain Menu along with Aron Smith and Warren Scott. Menu and Smith will both drive a VW Passat whilst Scott will drive the 2nd Vauxhall Insignia.

3. Rob Austin posted pictures online of his first test with the newly re-shelled Audi A4 "Sherman" that took place at a wet Silverstone. Austin proclaimed himself very happy with the updates to the car.

4. Honda Yuasa Racing also released pictures of the Honda Civic Tourer being tested in wet conditions at Rockingham in the hands of 2014 drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden.

5. The details for the BTCC Media Day have been released. During the morning of Media Day, the official entry list will be released with any further driver announcements made. Free entry for the public will be at 12.30pm onwards with testing beginning at 1.00pm.

So a few snipits there of news from the BTCC with the biggest talking point being the return of Alain Menu to the BTCC. Currently this means there are 5 confirmed Champions this season with Jason Plato, Andrew Jordan, Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden already confirmed.

However, rumours abound as to the lineup of two of the BTCC's two bigger teams: eBay/West Surrey Racing and Airwaves Racing/Motorbase. The lineup at WSR via rumour could include Colin Turkington, Alex MacDowall, Rob Collard and/or Alex MacDowall.

At Airwaves Racing, its possibly a bigger lineup. Airwaves is known to have improved its technical team and garnered a bigger budget. For it's 3 driver lineup, rumours persist that 2007 & 2008 BTCC Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi is joining the team in a lineup including any combination of Mat Jackson, Tom Onslow-Cole and 2013 Formula Ford Champion Dan Cammish.

There is also the plans of Lea Wood and Speedworks to be finalised so lets hope we know whats going on soon!!

All the best!