1996 British Touring Car Championship
|1996 BTCC season|
The 1996 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship season marked the arrival of Audi to the sport with their four wheel drive A4s. The title was won by Frank Biela, with Swiss driver Alain Menu again finishing in second place and Swede Rickard Rydell in third.
After seeing the success that rivals BMW and Alfa Romeo has achieved in the series, and wanting to expand their successful touring car programme, Audi entered a works team for the season, headed up by Joest Racing's Frank Biela. Biela had won multiple touring car championships and the 1995 Touring Car World Cup for the Four Rings. The Audi A4 proved the class of the field from the get go, helped considerably by its four wheel drive system. This led to an argument between the manufacturers throughout the season, and a weight penalty was added to the Audis. It did not help much; Biela dominated the season and won the title before the last round of the year.
Renault were seen as the team to beat before the start of the year, with Alain Menu title favourite. The Laguna however was totally outclassed by the Audi A4 and Menu would finish a distant runner up to Biela. Will Hoy endured a tough season and joined Ford for the following year.
Volvo developed the 850 further, allowing Rickard Rydell to challenge for wins throughout the year, but as was the case with Renault, Volvo were left in Audi's wake and Rydell was pipped to the runner-up spot by Menu in the final round of the season. His new team-mate Kelvin Burt snatched a single victory, but also suffered a huge accident at Oulton Park.
Vauxhall retained their title winning driver line up of John Cleland and James Thompson driving the new Vectra. The new car had a difficult development and was not as mechanically suited to racing as the Cavalier was. Thompson took the team's only win of the season, while Cleland would only finish 8th in the driver's championship.
Ford switched from Andy Rouse to West Surrey Racing to run the Mondeo in cooperation with race car engineering specialist Reynard and Schubel Engineering who built the Mondeo for the equivalent Super Tourenwagen Cup in Germany. There was a great deal of expectation that at last the Mondeo would come good, but alas the season was not a success. No wins or podiums were scored, and the cars were unreliable. Paul Radisich suffered 13 retirements in 24 races while his new team-mate Steve Robertson scored just one point all season.
After a disappointing 1995, BMW factory outfit Team Schnitzer returned to the series with 1993 champion Joachim Winkelhock and multiple touring car title winner Roberto Ravaglia leading the team, with Peter Kox running in a third car in selected races. Winkelhock took several wins during the year and was Biela's most consistent rival, while Ravaglia became involved in some contentious moments with Radisich and Menu throughout the season.
Toyota downsized to a single car after several seasons of increasing uncompetitiveness. Lee Brookes ran effectively a privateer team with limited manufacturer support, but managed to win the Independents Championship with the venerable Carina.
Team Dynamics attempted an ambitious project of developing their own Ford Mondeo for Matt Neal and Robb Gravett, but the project proved expensive and neither driver could challenge for the Independent crown.
- Rouse Sport were neither a works nor an independent entry.
RAC Tourist Trophy
Race calendar and results
All races were held in the United Kingdom.
Note: bold signifies pole position (1 point awarded all races), italics signifies fastest lap.
|1||Audi / Audi Sport UK||1||1||1||4||1||3||7||1||2||2||2||6||2||8||3||2||1||2||2||1||2||3||4||3||4||1||298|
|2||BMW / BMW Team Schnitzer||7||7||3||1||6||1||2||2||1||5||5||1||6||2||1||3||3||3||6||4||4||5||7||5||2||2||258|
|3||Volvo / Volvo 850 Racing||4||3||4||3||3||8||1||5||4||1||Ret||5||3||6||2||4||4||1||5||8||3||1||1||12||5||7||244|
|4||Renault / Williams Renault Dealer Racing||2||2||2||2||5||15||5||4||5||4||7||3||1||1||6||5||9||11||1||3||Ret||4||3||2||1||4||243|
|5||Honda / Honda Team MSD||9||10||9||11||8||5||3||8||8||7||9||7||5||7||4||1||6||7||3||2||1||8||2||1||3||5||201|
|6||Vauxhall / Vauxhall Sport||5||6||7||7||4||4||6||6||17||9||1||2||7||4||8||7||Ret||6||7||6||5||2||6||8||6||Ret||172|
|7||Ford / Valvoline Team Mondeo||Ret||8||5||8||Ret||Ret||Ret||7||10||13||13||8||12||11||Ret||9||7||9||Ret||11||Ret||14||16||11||Ret||Ret||74|
|=||Peugeot / Total Team Peugeot||11||9||8||9||Ret||10||12||Ret||11||8||4||12||Ret||9||Ret||13||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret||12||10||14||10||9||74|
|1||Audi Sport UK||1||1||1||4||1||3||7||1||2||2||2||6||2||8||3||2||1||2||2||1||2||3||4||3||4||1||396|
|2||BMW Team Schnitzer||7||7||3||1||6||1||2||2||1||5||5||1||6||2||1||3||3||3||6||4||4||5||7||5||2||2||323|
|3||Williams Renault Dealer Racing||2||2||2||2||5||15||5||4||5||4||7||3||1||1||6||5||9||11||1||3||Ret||4||3||2||1||4||288|
|4||Volvo 850 Racing||4||3||4||3||3||8||1||5||4||1||Ret||5||3||6||2||4||4||1||5||8||3||1||1||12||5||7||255|
|5||Honda Team MSD||9||10||9||11||8||5||3||8||8||7||9||7||5||7||4||1||6||7||3||2||1||8||2||1||3||5||186|
|7||Valvoline Team Mondeo||Ret||8||5||8||Ret||Ret||Ret||7||10||13||13||8||12||11||Ret||9||7||9||Ret||11||Ret||14||16||11||Ret||Ret||29|
|8||Total Team Peugeot||11||9||8||9||Ret||10||12||Ret||11||8||4||12||Ret||9||Ret||13||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret||Ret||12||10||14||10||9||26|