Touring car racing

Touring car racing is a motorsport road racing competition with heavily modified road-going cars. It is popular in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Germany, Sweden and Norway. It has both similarities to and significant differences from stock car racing which is popular in the United States.

While not 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 use of aerodynamics means following cars have a much easier time passing than in F1, and the more substantial bodies of the cars makes the subtle bumping and 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.

Touring car racing
Highest governing bodyFIA, DMSB and many more
Characteristics
ContactYes
Team membersYes
Mixed genderYes
TypeOutdoor
VenueRoad and street courses

Characteristics of a touring car

Robert Huff 2009 WTCC Pau
A Chevrolet Cruze touring car.

While rules vary from country to country, most series require that the competitors start with a standard car body, but virtually every other component may be allowed to be heavily modified for racing, including engines, suspension, brakes, wheels and tyres. 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).

Touring cars share some similarity with 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 common design.[1]

Differences between touring cars and sports cars

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, sedans or estates), while GT racing cars are based upon powerful sports cars, such as Ferraris or Lamborghinis (and are thus usually coupés). 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.

When Sports car racing was created in the inter-war period of the 20th century however, sports cars fulfilled the role Touring Cars do today, as the production car variant of racing compared to the specialised vehicles competing in Grand Prix racing. Over time Touring Cars has drifted from its role as racing cars based on modern road cars with categories like NASCAR and DTM having little to no connection to road cars. This in turn has led to the rise of Production car racing to fulfil the role once performed by Touring Cars and Sports Cars before that.

Series of competition

World Touring Car Championship

2012 WTCC Race of Japan (Race 1) opening lap
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

David Pinkney 2006 BTCC Oulton Park
2006 BTCC Oulton Park

United Kingdom

The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) currently competes at nine circuits in the UK with cars built to Next Generation Touring Car specification, with ballast being used to equalise performance. 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, station wagons and hatchbacks with over 350 bhp (260 kW) and can be front or rear-wheel drive. During the 2016 season manufacturer team entries came from BMW, Subaru, 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 Vauxhall, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Chevrolet 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, 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

DTM 2012 cars
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),[3] and transmissions, brakes and tyres (Dunlop) are standard parts for all. Also, dimension and aerodynamics are equalised. 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

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

Alx Danielsson TTA Anderstorp 2012
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.

Supercars Championship

V8 Supercar start 2011
2011 V8 Supercar Championship at Queensland Raceway

Australia and New Zealand

Formerly the Australian Touring Car Championship, 'Supercars' are now recognised internationally as the 'fastest touring cars in the world' racing at speeds of up to 320kph. They are also the most expensive touring cars in the world with each car costing in excess of $1 million (AUD) which includes state of the art $250,000 (AUD) 680 hp+ engines. The current formula was devised in 1993 (based on Group A regulations) and branded as 'V8 Supercars' in 1997 and 'Supercars' in 2016. The series features grids of twenty-six cars (although in endurance races e.g. the Bathurst 1000 there can be wildcard entries, which add to the grid) with 680+ hp (500 kW). The cars are currently Ford Mustangs, Holden Commodores and Nissan Altimas. The weight limit for a 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 Nissan 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 international motorsport powerhouses such as Tom Walkinshaw Racing Team Penske, Andretti 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.

From 2013, Nissan[4] 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.[5][6] 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 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

Americas

Stock Car V8 Brasil 2007 Curitiba
Stock Car Brasil in 2007 at Curitiba

Europe

Division1 2013
A Division 1 class during a ADAC Procar Series race in 2013

Asia-Pacific

Former series

Michel Nykjær Chevrolet Cruze STCC Ring Knutstorp 2012
Scandinavian Touring Car Championship 2012.

Famous races

Bathurst 1000 2005 4
The 2005 Bathurst 1000

Rule sets

Different sets of regulations do apply:

See also

References

  1. ^ "What is the NASCAR Car Of Tomorrow?". Nascar.about.com. 4 April 2008. Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  2. ^ Audi UK - http://www.audi.co.uk (6 May 2009). "Audi UK > Experience > Motorsport > DTM > The Audi A4 DTM". Audi.co.uk. Archived from the original on 3 October 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  3. ^ Day, Lance; McNeil, Ian (11 September 2002). Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology. Routledge. ISBN 9781134650200.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Mercedes-Benz to join V8 Supercars". Herald Sun. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  6. ^ 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.
Appendix J Touring Cars

Appendix J Touring Cars was an Australian motor racing category for modified, production based sedans. It was the premier form of Touring car racing in Australia from 1960 to 1964.

The category was introduced by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport to take effect from January 1960. Prior to the introduction of Appendix J, there had been no national regulations for touring car racing in Australia with individual race promoters applying differing rules regarding eligibility and modification of the cars being raced. Under Appendix J, eligibility was restricted to closed cars with seating for four persons and at least one hundred examples of the model had to have been produced. Bodywork and interior trim had to remain virtually standard; however, engines and suspensions could be modified to improve performance and handling. Modifications were permitted in the areas of carburettors, valves, pistons, camshafts, inlet systems, exhaust systems, springs and shock absorbers. Cars competed in numerous classes based on engine capacity with the regulations allowing an increase in capacity up to the limit of the relevant class. Many highly modified cars which were no longer eligible to compete as Touring Cars found a home in another new CAMS category, Appendix K. This was ostensibly for GT cars but in reality allowed virtually any form of closed vehicle to participate

The Australian Touring Car Championship was open to cars complying with Appendix J from its inception in 1960 up to and including the 1964 title. The inaugural Australian Touring Car Championship race at Gnoo Blas circuit at Orange, New South Wales on 1 February 1960 was in fact the first race to be staged for Appendix J cars.

From January 1965, Appendix J was replaced by a new category, Group C for Improved Production Touring Cars.In 1981 CAMS introduced the Group N Touring Cars category which was intended to recreate the style of racing which had existed under the Appendix J rules. Originally Group N was restricted to cars manufactured before January 1965; however, this was later extended to permit models produced up to the end of 1972.

Asia-Pacific Touring Car Championship

The FIA Asia-Pacific Touring Car Championship was a motorsport championship staged in 1988 and in 1994. The 1988 championship was won by New Zealand's Trevor Crowe and the 1994 champion was Joachim Winkelhock from Germany. Crowe drove a BMW M3 for fellow Kiwi John Sax, while Winkelhock drove a BMW 318i for Schnitzer Motorsport. In 1996–1999 the series was re-vamped into the South East Asia Touring Car Zone Challenge mainly with local drivers only. In 2000 it changed to the FIA Asian Touring Car Championship.

Asian Touring Car Series

The Asian Touring Car Series (ATCS) is a touring car racing series that takes place each year across several Asian nations. It includes events at circuits in Malaysia, China and Indonesia. It ran as the Asian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) between 2000-2001, and 2005-2006.

The championship consists of three classes. Division 1 uses cars built to Super 2000 or BTC Touring regulations. Proton provides the only factory team, whose main opposition is the independent German BMW team of Engstler Motorsport. Division 2 uses Super Production regulations for cars with engine capacities of not more than 2000cc. Engstler Motorsport has a single entry in this class and is the main competition to the four-car line-up of DTM Bel’Air Racing from Hong Kong. Division 3 is a 1600cc class and is the most production-based of the three. Only DTM Bel’Air Racing fielded entries in this class during 2006.

Class 1 Touring Cars

Class 1 Touring Cars was a production-based touring car racing category introduced by the FIA in 1993 along with Class 2 Touring Cars, the latter officially becoming known as Super Touring cars from 1995. Class 1 permitted more liberal modifications to the vehicles than those allowed for Class 2 cars.Class 1 regulations restricted engines to a maximum of six cylinders, 2.5 litres capacity and four valves per cylinder. The basic unit had to be derived from a production engine made in quantity by the same manufacturer as the car, although it did not have to be from the same model as that being raced and could be extensively modified. All-wheel drive, traction control, anti-lock brakes and electronically controlled differentials were permitted. Aerodynamic aids were free below the wheel centreline and, from 1995, suspension systems could be purpose built rather than production based.Class 1 Touring Cars contested the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft series from 1993 to 1995, the International Touring Car Series in 1995 and for the International Touring Car Championship in 1996.Only three manufacturers, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz and Opel, competed in Class 1 during the short history of the category and the withdrawal of Alfa Romeo and Opel from the International Touring Car Championship at the end of 1996 effectively spelt the end of the class.

Danish Touringcar Championship

The Danish Touringcar Championship (abbreviated as the DTC) was a touring car racing series in Denmark. The inaugural year for the DTC was 1999, after the huge success in Scandinavia of the British Touring Car Championship. For the first two years it was known as the Danish Touring Car Challenge. The final DTC season was in 2010, as the series merged with the Swedish Touring Car Championship to form the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship.

Diesel 2000

Diesel 2000 is an FIA circuit racing classification for modified production based touring cars using turbodiesel engines.

Like its counterpart, Super 2000, the category is open to large-scale series production touring cars modified by a kit. Cars must have at least four seats and at least 2500 fully identical units must be produced within 12 consecutive months to allow homologation. However, unlike Super 2000, Diesel 2000 allows only 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engines with a maximum capacity of 2000cc.The category was introduced to the European Touring Car Championship for 2004 to allow turbodiesel cars to compete alongside the existing petrol engined Super 2000 vehicles.

When the European Championship was upgraded to become the World Touring Car Championship in 2005, both Diesel 2000 and Super 2000 cars were eligible to compete for the new title.Spanish manufacturer SEAT has won the manufacturers award of the World Championship in both 2008 and 2009 with their Diesel 2000 León TDI model. Factory SEAT drivers Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini have won the drivers titles with the same model in these two years respectively.

Group 1 (racing)

The Group 1 racing class referred to regulations for cars in touring car racing and rallying, as regulated by the FIA. The Group 1 class was replaced by Group N in the 1980s.

Group 2 (racing)

The Group 2 racing class referred to regulations for cars in touring car racing and rallying, as regulated by the FIA. Group 2 was replaced by Group A in 1982.

The FIA established Appendix J regulations for Touring and GT cars for 1954 and the term Group 2 was in use to define Touring Cars in the Appendix J of 1959. By 1961 Appendix J included specifications for both Group 1 Series Touring Cars and Group 2 Improved Touring Cars with a minimum production of 1,000 units in twelve consecutive months required to allow homologation of a model into either group. Technical modifications beyond those allowed for Group 1 cars were permitted in Group 2.The British Saloon Car Championship was open to Group 2 cars each year from 1961 to 1965 and from 1970 to 1973.Group 2 was the specified category for the European Touring Car Challenge from 1963 to 1967 and the cars were also eligible alongside Group 5 special touring cars in 1968 and 1969. It was again the premier category when the series was renamed as the European Touring Car Championship for 1970 and continued to be so until it was replaced by Group A for 1982.The Sports Car Club of America’s Trans-American Sedan Championship was contested by Group 2 touring cars from its inception in 1966 through to the 1972 season.

Group A

Group A was a set of motorsport regulations introduced by FIA covering production-derived vehicles intended for outright competition in Touring car racing and Rallying. In contrast to the short-lived Group B and Group C, the Group A referred to production-derived vehicles limited in terms of power, weight, allowed technology and overall cost. Group A was aimed at ensuring a large number of privately owned entries in races.

Group A was introduced by the FIA in 1982 to replace the outgoing Group 2 as "modified touring cars", while Group N would replace Group 1 as "standard touring cars". The FIA continued to promulgate regulations for Group A Touring Cars until at least 1993, and the category survived in domestic championships until 1994. However, Group A is still used as the basis for most rally competitions around the world.

Group C (Australia)

In relation to Australian motorsport, Group C refers to either of two sets of regulations devised by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) for use in Australian Touring Car Racing from 1965 to 1984. These are not to be confused with the FIA’s Group C sports car regulations, used from 1982 to 1992 for the World Endurance Championship / World Sports-Prototype Championship / World Sportscar Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Group N

In relation to motorsport governed by the FIA, Group N referred to a set of regulations providing 'standard' production vehicles for competition, often referred to as the "Showroom Class".

This contrasted with the Group A all-out competition production-derived vehicles. Group N cars are limited in terms of modifications made from standard specification. Group N was introduced by the FIA in 1982 to replace the outgoing Group 1 as "standard touring cars".

To qualify for homologation, a minimum of 2500 cars of the competing model had to be built in one year, out of 25,000 for the entire range of the model (e.g.: 2500 Subaru Impreza WRX, out of 25,000 Subaru Impreza).

The Group N regulations were officially replaced in 2013. No new cars will be homologated under Group A or Group N regulations, and instead existing cars are reclassified according to Group R rules (specifically the R4 class). The R4 class itself will be gradually phased out.In 2015, the FIA realigned the rally classes yet again, finalizing the phase-out of R4. A new class, NR4 has been added, and is identical to the previous Group N class, just with a new name to fit in with the other "R" names. R4 cars are now not allowed in FIA sanctioned rallies in Europe, but since R4 was basically a transition group for old Group N, many of those could likely be re-homologated as NR4.

North American Touring Car Championship

The North American Touring Car Championship was a touring car racing series using the Supertouring formula that raced in North America in 1996 and 1997. The series was funded in part by IndyCar team owner Gerald Forsythe with input from British series supremo Alan Gow. He appointed his Vice-President of Business Operations, Canadian Roger Elliott to run the operation headquartered in Tampa, Florida. The Dodge Stratus factory team engineered and crewed by PacWest Racing and Honda Accord factory team operated by TC Kline Racing dominated the series as they were one of the only truly professional outfits to contest the championship. The series ran as a support series to CART road and street course races.While popular with fans, the series struggled to attract teams, with most races in the 1996 season only having 11 or 12 entrants. 1997 saw even fewer entrants with only 9 or 10 cars on track for most of the races. The series was not continued for 1998.

SEAT León Eurocup

The SEAT León Eurocup is a one-make touring car racing series which uses SEAT Leóns, run by SEAT Sport.

Scandinavian Touring Car Championship

The Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) was a touring car racing series based in Scandinavia. The series took over from the Danish Touringcar Championship and Swedish Touring Car Championship, with its first season in 2011. The Scandinavian Touring Car Cup was awarded in 2010 to the driver with best results from selected races in the Danish and Swedish seasons.

In 2013, the series merged with the rival TTA – Racing Elite League, which was formed as a result of the split in 2012. From the 2013 season onwards, the series would see a new format based upon the TTA series.

After the change to the TCR ruleset, the STCC goes into bankruptcy before the 2019 season. The follow-up series is the TCR Scandinavia Touring Car Championship.

South American Super Touring Car Championship

The South American Super Touring Car Championship (known locally as the Copa de las Naciones Super Turismo then as the Copa de Superturismo Sudamericano) was an international touring car racing series in South America.

TC 2000 Championship

The TC 2000 Championship (Turismo Competición 2000) is a touring car racing series held in Argentina since 1979.

Touring Car Endurance Series

The Touring Car Endurance Series (abbreviated as TCES) or 24H TCE Series (since 2018) is a touring car racing series developed by Creventic and with approval from the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The calendar consists only of 24-hour and 12-hour races.

UAE Touring Car Championship

The UAE Touring Car Championship is a touring car racing series that takes place each year in the United Arab Emirates.

The UAETCC consists of three classes. Class 1 uses cars built to Super 2000 or BTC Touring regulations. Class 2 uses Super Production regulations for cars with engine capacities of not more than 2000cc. Class 3 is a 1600cc class and is the most production-based of the three. From the season 2018–19, the national championship introduced a TCR class in races.

V8Star Series

The V8Star Series was a touring car racing series based in Germany. It ran from 2001 to 2003 and can be compared to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters Series.

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