In 2013, The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship introduced the Jack Sears Trophy for drivers competing in Super 2000 regulation Touring Cars using 2 litre turbocharged engines.
This was a minority class as most of the field had switched to running full Next Generation Touring Car specification cars in 2013 but it also allowed those who couldn't afford to make the NGTC move to race for victorys in their own class. The turbos were set at one level but a class win would net a trophy with nothing awarded to anyone finishing 2nd, 3rd or lower. The Jack Sears Trophy was won by popular Independent driver Lea Wood.
For 2014, the JST changed to being a trophy for the Independent driver who makes the most overtakes during the season, rewarding those racers who race the hardest on small budgets.
However, I have a different idea that I wanted to share with fellow fans to see what they might think...
Now the basis of my idea goes back to the Group A heyday of Touring Cars where there were a mix of Sprint races in domestic series added to Endurance races that were the norm in the European Touring Car Championship and the World Touring Car Championship. Back then, WTCC and ETCC races were around 500 miles in length with 2 or 3 drivers assigned to a car and teams often ran two or three cars in their class. Pitstops were compulsory and included Tyre Changes, Refuelling and Driver changes of ten with a lead or nominated driver able to leap into a team mates car if their own car suffered issues or retirement.
The best example of this would be Roberto Ravaglia, who as BMW 's lead driver, would often end up driving a different BMW M3 if his own suffered during a race. This won him the 1987 WTCC and 1988 ETCC titles.
Now quite often, when the WTCC or ETCC raced in the UK, the BTCC regulars would take part and the series would often have its own Endurance race later in the year, usually held at Donington Park for around one hour in duration and part of my idea for the JST stems from this. The other part stems from the fact that all of the major Touring Car series have their own "Blue Riband" race during the season. For example the DTM has the Norisring, the V8 Supercars have the Bathurst 1000kms and the WTCC has its season ending races at Macau...
So my proposal is for two 70 minute BTCC Endurance races that would be held on the Silverstone Grand Prix layout.
Now take into consideration that almost every BTCC race is normally around the 40 minute mark, with or without a safety car period, and the fact that the teams and drivers race three times on the sunday after two practice sessions and qualifying on the saturday. Also take into account that the current NGTC regulations require having larger fuel tanks that the previous Super 2000 regulations and it seems to be feasible.
Now I'm fully aware that the current BTCC races are sprints races and that a study would need to be made into longer lasting parts for the cars, but aside from that it also allows a team running two cars to take on two extra drivers for the event. This means that it opens up the oppurtunity for drivers from different motorsport arena's to try out the BTCC NGTC equipment as well as offering the chance to drivers from the Support Series to try NGTC as well.
As for the two races, my thinking is this. A race weekend for the NGTC cars would entail two practice sessions at about 1 hours length, allowing time for everyone to get in race and quali setup work and anything else to be done. For Qualifying I imagine a 45 minute session with the quickest times setting the grid and the driver setting the fastest time also starting the race. This could see some gameplay by the teams as is often in this modern day in age.
Now there is the Success Ballast and Turbo Boost parity to consider as they play an important part in the BTCC itself. My thinking on this would be to have an equal boost setting on all cars, but to allow a higher setting than is normally used in the regular BTCC events. Also As this would be a Blue Riband event, all Success Ballast would be scrubbed, keeping all competitors on an even keel.
This would be implemented in both races. With regards to points, the normal points system would be used, however with qualifying used to set the grid for Race One, for Race Two that grid would be reversed. Now with a large grid of cars this year, at 31 entries, that would also allow the Independents to shine and add to the racing spectacle that is the BTCC itself. With regards to driver changes, this would take place with one driver driving for a certain amount of time only, goverened by Health and Safety to make sure drivrrs dont have accidents due to suffering from fatigue or over-tiredness.
As for the timing of when this race could take place, that would be down to what TOCA and ITV could arrange themselves, but I envisage it taking place potentially around August, giving it a date to fit in with the other big series where they take place later in the year. That way it offers the best spectacle to be utilised for advertising, Social Media and the like.
Now, this isn't just some crazy idea, its something that I put to Alan Gow early this year on the btcc.net forum when people were discussing what the JST would be used for. His answer explained that when the teams annually meet to discuss the series and any ideas to further enhance it, the Endurance idea is often discussed with growing popularity so its always possible we could see an Endurance race of some kind as part of the BTCC in the future.
Now I admit I'm a fan and this is just an idea but I feel enthusiastically that the Jack Sears Trophy needs to be a bigger part of the BTCC package, adding to what is potentially the best Tintop series out there.
Thank you for reading this and hearing out my idea and please feel free to share amongst other fans.