Touring car racing

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Touring car racing is an auto racing competition with heavily modified road-going cars. It is popular in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Germany and Nordic countries.

Whilst not nearly as fast as Formula One, the similarity of the cars both to each other and to fans' own vehicles makes for entertaining, well-supported racing. The lesser impact of aerodynamics also means that following cars have a much easier time of passing than F1, and the more substantial bodies of the cars makes the occasional nudging for overtaking much more acceptable as part of racing.

As well as short "sprint" races, many touring car series include one or more endurance races, which last anything from 3 to 24 hours and are a test of reliability and pit crews as much as car, driver speed and consistency.

Characteristics of a touring car[edit]

A Chevrolet Cruze touring car.

While rules vary from country to country, most series require that the competitors start with a standard body shell, but virtually every other component may be allowed to be heavily modified for racing, including engines, suspension, brakes, wheels and tires. Aerodynamic aids are sometimes added to the front and rear of the cars. Regulations are usually designed to limit costs by banning some of the more exotic technologies available (for instance, many series insist on a "control tyre" that all competitors must use) and keep the racing close (sometimes by ballast weight where winning a race requires the winner's car to be heavier for subsequent races).

In this, it shares some similarity with the American stock car racing (governed by NASCAR). However, touring cars are, at least notionally, derived from production cars while today's NASCAR vehicles are based on a shared, custom, design.[1] In the early days of NASCAR, stock cars were in fact built from production cars, whereas some current touring car series are also raced in silhouette racing cars. Touring cars race exclusively on road courses and street circuits, while its American counterpart predominantly utilizes oval tracks, with road courses constituting a small percentage.

Differences between touring cars and sports cars[edit]

For the casual observer, there can be a great deal of confusion when it comes to classifying closed-wheel racing cars as 'touring cars' or 'sports cars' (also known as GT cars). In truth, there is often very little technical difference between the two classifications, and nomenclature is often a matter of tradition.

Touring cars are usually based upon family cars (such as hatchbacks, saloons or estates), while GT racing cars are based upon more powerful and expensive sports cars, such as Ferraris or Lamborghinis (and are thus usually coupes). Underneath the bodywork, a touring car is often more closely related to its road-going origins, using many original components and mountings, while some top-flight GT cars are purpose-built tube-frame racing chassis underneath a cosmetic body shell. More recently, there has been an increasing push to make GT cars closer to the road cars with the GT3 set of regulations. Many touring car series, such as the BTCC and the now-defunct JTCC distinguish themselves from sports car racing by featuring front-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive cars with smaller engines. Most sports car championships only allow rear-wheel drive cars.

While touring cars generally have a lower technical level than sports cars, there are some exceptions. The Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) is considered to be one of the most technologically advanced racing series in the world, with cars that, underneath their body shells, are more purebred racing machines than most FIA-GT vehicles.

Series of competition[edit]

World Touring Car Championship[edit]

2012 WTCC Race of Japan (Race 1) opening lap

Worldwide

Modern World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) started in 2005, evolving from the reborn European Touring Car Championship.

Running at major international racing facilities, this series is supported by BMW, SEAT and Chevrolet. The latter fields a works team, whereas the other two only sell racing kits to be installed on their cars, providing technical support to their customers. In 2011 Volvo also entered the championship, fielding a one-car team as an evaluation for a possible heavier commitment to the series. The World Touring Car Championship features 1.6-litre cars built to Super 2000 regulations based on FIA Group N.

Following the trend of recent FIA rules, cost control is a major theme in the technical regulation. In 2011 the rules concerning the engine capacity have changed, switching from 2000 cc to 1600 cc turbo engines. Cars equipped with the old 2000 cc engines are still eligible in the championship. Many technologies that have featured in production cars are not allowed, for example: variable valve timing, variable intake geometry, ABS brakes and traction control.

British Touring Car Championship[edit]

2006 BTCC Oulton Park

United Kingdom

The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) currently competes at nine circuits in the UK with cars built either to Next Generation Touring Car or Super 2000 specification, with ballast being used to equalise the two types. From 2011, cars that ran to the BTCC's own Next Generation Touring Car specification were eligible to compete in a phased move away from Super 2000 regulations. Cars are 2.0-litre saloons and hatchbacks with around 270 bhp (200 kW) and can be front or rear-wheel drive. During the 2012 season works teams entries come from MG and Honda. Since BTCC budgets have been kept relatively low, there is a strong independent and privateer presence in the championship. Manufacturers represented by privateers include BMW, Vauxhall, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen and Audi.

Prior to 2001 the BTCC was contested by cars built to 2.0-litre supertouring regulations and had in its heyday up to nine different manufacturers. Joachim Winkelhock stated on several occasions that it was the best touring car championship in the world,[citation needed] and many champions of that era now race in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Between 2002 and 2006 the BTCC ran its own Touring class with Super Production/Super 2000 cars making up the numbers; the Touring class was phased out (only privateers are eligible to run old Touring cars) with the intention of a pure Super 2000 series. The introduction of the Next Generation Touring Car specification, from 2011, started a phased transition from Super 2000 cars in an effort to cut costs and improve the sport.

DTM[edit]

DTM at Hockenheim in 2012

Germany/Europe

The DTM series, the initials standing for Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft until 1996, then following a hiatus, revived as Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters in 2000, features advanced purpose built V8-powered space frame machines, covered with largely carbon fibre bodyshapes resemblant of the manufacturers' road machine (although the roof and roof pillars do originate from the production car).[2] In order to lower costs, the engine power is limited to 600 hp (450 kW)[citation needed], and transmissions, brakes and tyres (Dunlop) are standard parts for all. Also, dimension and aerodynamics are equalized. The approx. 1,050 kg (2,310 lb) light DTM cars corner incredibly quickly and wear spectacular bodykits incorporating huge wheel arches and diffusers.

More than 20 works-backed entries of Opel Astra, Audi TT and Mercedes-Benz CLK contested the revived 2000 DTM series but a serious issue developed for the series when Opel pulled out ahead of the 2006 season. The series has survived this hurdle and remained popular with 18 Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class contesting the present series.

For the 2012 season, the regulations have been adapted to make the vehicles less reliant on aerodynamic downforce and more on mechanical grip. Audi will switch from their A4 model and use the A5, Mercedes will use the Coupe version of their C-Class and BMW have announced their addition to the competition with their M3 Coupe.

Nürburgring VLN Endurance racing Series[edit]

Germany

Since 1997, and nowadays still on the over 20 kilometres (12 mi) long famous old Nürburgring and other circuit worldwide, in average over 150 touring cars compete in the VLN series of ten typically 4 hour long races. Cars range from old 100 hp (75 kW) road legal compacts to 500 hp (370 kW) Porsche 996 and even modified DTM cars (1,250 kg (2,760 lb)). Most entrants of the 24 Hours Nürburgring collect experience here.

Scandinavian Touring Car Championship[edit]

Alx Danielsson driving a Citroën in the STCC – Racing Elite League

Sweden/Denmark

Between 1996 and 2010 the Swedish Touring Car Championship contained various races in Sweden and a few in Norway. The most successful car makes were Volvo, BMW, Audi and Nissan. In 2010 the championship merged with the Danish Touringcar Championship to form the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. The 2010 champion was Robert Dahlgren, because he had achieved the best results from selected races in the Danish and Swedish championships. Rickard Rydell and Johan Kristoffersson won the championship in 2011 and 2012, in a Chevrolet and a VW, respectively. In 2013 the series merged with the TTA – Racing Elite League to form the 2013 STCC – Racing Elite League season, starring 17 drivers for Volvo, BMW, Saab, Citroën, Dacia and Honda.

V8 Supercars[edit]

2011 V8 Supercar Championship at Queensland Raceway

Australia and New Zealand

Main article: V8 Supercars

Formerly the Australian Touring Car Championship, the current formula was devised in 1993 (based on Group A regulations) and branded as 'V8 Supercars' in 1997. The series features grids of twenty-eight cars (although in endurance races e.g. the Bathurst 1000 there can be wildcard entries, which add to the grid) with 650+ hp (480 kW). The cars are Ford Falcons, Holden Commodores and other medium/large sedan makes. The weight limit for a V8 Supercar is 1,350 kg (2,980 lb). The race cars themselves are derived from production body panels and space-frame chassis. Both Holden and Ford financially and technically support their favoured teams and take an active role in promotion of the series.

As the series has grown, major international motorsport organisations have become involved. Several teams now benefit from the involvement of Tom Walkinshaw Racing and Triple Eight Race Engineering. In addition to regular appearances in New Zealand (currently using the Pukekohe Park Raceway), the series ventured to China at the Shanghai International Circuit in 2005, since 2006 has raced at the Bahrain International Circuit and since 2010 has raced at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. In 2013, the series added a race in the U.S. at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas. The growth of the series has seen motorsport equal Rugby League as Australia's third most watched sport.[citation needed]

From 2013, Nissan [3] provided a third manufacturer, working with Kelly Racing. Mercedes-Benz also joined the series in 2013 with Stone Brothers Racing, in conjunction with Erebus Racing.[4][5] Volvo also joined the championship in 2014 with Garry Rogers Motorsport, in conjunction with Polestar Racing.

The series incorporates the world famous Bathurst 1000 race as a championship round. Because of the longer distance, regulations require two drivers per car for this race. This also applies to the Sandown 500 & the Gold Coast 600. These events make up V8 Supercars 'PIRTEK Enduro Cup', which is a championship-within-a-championship where the driver combination with most points collected over the 3 Enduros wins a trophy.

Other series[edit]

Americas[edit]

Stock Car Brasil in 2007 at Curitiba

Europe[edit]

A Division 1 class during a ADAC Procar Series race in 2013

Asia-Pacific[edit]

  • Australian V8 Touring Car Series, link

Former series[edit]

Scandinavian Touring Car Championship 2012.

Famous races[edit]

The 2005 Bathurst 1000

Rule sets[edit]

Different sets of regulations do apply:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "What is the NASCAR Car Of Tomorrow?". Nascar.about.com. 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  2. ^ Audi UK - http://www.audi.co.uk (2009-05-06). "Audi UK > Experience > Motorsport > DTM > The Audi A4 DTM". Audi.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Mercedes-Benz to join V8 Supercars". Herald Sun. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Bartholomaeus, Stefan (19 September 2012). "Mercedes: Initial Erebus proposal was ‘misunderstood’". Speedcafe.com. Retrieved 19 September 2012. Erebus Racing CEO Ryan Maddison confirmed that the three E63 AMG race cars will carry Mercedes badgework but no additional signage.