The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) is an international Touring Car championship sanctioned by the FIA. It has had several different incarnations over the years, including a single season in 1987, a World Touring Car Cup held between 1993 and 1995 and most recently a world championship that has run since 2005.
The first World Touring Car Championship season, which was open to Group A Touring Cars, was held in 1987 concurrent to the long-running European Touring Car Championship (ETCC). Additional rounds were held outside Europe at Bathurst and Calder Park Raceway in Australia (using a combined circuit of the road course and the then newly constructed NASCAR speedway), Wellington in New Zealand and Mount Fuji in Japan. The Championship was well-supported, but embroiled in controversy. The championship was provisionally awarded to West German Eggenberger MotorsportFord Sierra RS500 drivers Klaus Ludwig and Klaus Niedzwiedz. It was not until the following year that results were confirmed and Italian Schnitzer Motorsport driver Roberto Ravaglia in a BMW M3 was declared the champion. The Entrants Championship was won by the Eggenberger Texaco Ford No 7 entry. The WTCC lasted only one year and was a victim of its own success — the FIA (and Bernie Ecclestone) feared it would take money away from Formula 1 and stopped sanctioning the Championship. A silhouette formula championship was announced by the FIA for 1988 which would have seen specialist racing chassis carrying bodywork resembling production roadcars powered by the about to be outlawed Formula One 1.5 litre turbo regulations, but manufacturers did not support the concept, only one car, based on an Alfa Romeo 164 was built before it was abandoned.
In 1993, with the high popularity of the Supertouring category, the FIA hosted the FIA World Touring Car Cup — an annual event for touring car drivers hailing from national championships all over the world. The 1993 race at Monza was won by Paul Radisich, at the wheel of a Ford Mondeo ahead of Nicola Larini's Alfa Romeo 155, with no manufacturer title awarded. The race was run for two more years, (won by Paul Radisich again in 1994 at Donington Park in a Ford Mondeo, manufacturer title went to BMW, and Frank Biela in 1995 at Paul Ricard in an Audi A4 Quattro, and manufacturer title went to Audi). A similar event was planned for 1996 at the A1 Ring, Austria, but was cancelled due to a low number of provisional entries (10 cars). It was never brought back thereafter.
In 2001, the European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) was resumed with support from the FIA, the precursor to the current WTCC. In 2001, the Italian Superturismo Championship became the FIA European Super Touring Championship, with an extra class for Super Production cars alongside the main Super Touring class. In 2002, this evolved into the brand new FIA European Touring Car Championship, using Super 2000 rules, dominated by Alfa Romeo and BMW, but popular with the public due to the intense competition and Eurosport live broadcasts.
At the request of interested manufacturers, the ETCC was changed to the current WTCC beginning with the 2005 season, continuing to use Super 2000 and Diesel 2000 regulations. 2004 ETCC Champion Andy Priaulx and his BMW 320i were the dominant driver-car pairing during the first three years of the revived championship, winning the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Drivers and Manufacturers Championships.
In 2008, Frenchman Yvan Muller won the title after Race 1 in Macau in his SEAT León TDI. This marked the first time an FIA sanctioned world championship, in any category, being won by a diesel powered racing car. SEAT León TDI won both championships for a second time in 2009, this time in the hands of Gabriele Tarquini.
2010 marked the start of Chevrolet's dominance of the championship with its Cruze model. Frenchman Yvan Muller became World Champion, fending off tough competition from Gabriele Tarquini and Andy Priaulx to win the first world championship for Chevrolet. Muller continued his success into 2011, winning both drivers championship and helping Chevrolet to its second manufacturers championship after Muller's two teammates finished second and third in the drivers standings. This gave Chevrolet a clean sweep of both titles. The 2012 championship saw Chevrolet pick up where they left of in 2011, leading to a second year of championship clean sweeps, this time with Rob Huff taking the drivers title.