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BTCC 2014 Mid-Season Report Card: Must Do Better

In a recent article, David Addison described the ‘Modern era of the BTCC‘¬†as the best that it has ever been. He argues that the modern championship boasts packed grids, close racing and a comprehensive television package that blows away any competition from the past. The 2014 season has indeed seen a total reinvention of the championship with the new NGTC regulations coming into force, which has evolved the very nature of the BTCC. This year in particular has seen 7 past champions get behind the wheel and battle against some rising stars in the motorsport universe. Mr Addison really does make a strong case when he talks about the media coverage of the BTCC; with the exception of F1 there are very few sports that dedicate entire days of television scheduling to one event. Not only are all three races shown live on race day, but the entire BTC support package is shown to the public.

It is at this juncture that my agreement with David Addison comes to a very abrupt end. I have been a fan of the BTCC my entire life; growing up in the 1990s in the backdrop of the Super Touring era was one of the most most exciting childhoods I could ever have asked for. No other motorsport could come close to the British Touring Cars in my eyes. I have been watching the BTCC every year across the various rule changes and I am offended to hear that someone honestly believes that the modern championship is the best the BTCC has ever been. We have approached near enough the midway part of the 2014 season and I find myself rapidly losing interest in the BTCC. Considering the sport is meant to be the best its ever been, how can this be possible? Let’s break this down.

MG...Honda...BMW. The main protagonists haven't really changed. Photo Credit: BTCC.net

MG…Honda…BMW. The main protagonists haven’t really changed. Photo Credit: BTCC.net

Packed Grids and Close Racing?

Considering the clear negative tone that is already in abundance in this article, I will admit that a packed 31 car grid has been somewhat exciting this year. Throughout much of the 2000s the field was even struggling to boast a field that hit double figures. My favourite was the beginning of the 2001 season where there were often as little as 6 cars taking the start line. Thrilling. With 31 cars on the track it means there is always something going on and spectators never have to stare at an empty bit of tarmac.

Next on the list is this close racing that makes the BTCC better than ever before. Maybe this is just me but the racing this year is no closer than it has ever been before. Especially when it comes to the front of the field. Last year I would often predict the top 5 finishers before the race had even happened. It was always a case of Honda Honda BMW MG Honda in some order or another. One of the perks of the NGTC was meant to be that the cars would become more equal. And yet this year nothing really has changed. Race after race it will be a selection of Honda, MG or BMW charging off into the distance and that will be the way of things.

Unrivalled Media Coverage

This does bring me on ever so fluidly to this claim that the media coverage of the BTCC is second to none. Let us remember that I do not possess the vast riches nor the free time to frequent every race meeting. Consequentially it must mean that I must watch most of the races on the traditional medium that is the television. Once more it is at this point that we hit another problem. Throughout the 90s, the television coverage would not only show the battles up the front, but the racing all the way down to the bottom places. As a result, if the modern era was the best it has ever been, then the television viewer would at the very least have this same access. That would be the logical thought anyway. In fact, if it truly was the greatest I would expect a red button style access to cameras showing every position from first down to last.

Alas, it seems this message was lost by the grand powers of ITV. In reality, all we are left with is full footage of the top five positions which is inevitably a festival of laborious boredom. The only time the top positions seem to get mixed up is in the final race when finally some other people get a shot at glory. But seriously, at the last few meetings I have had to sit through 30 minutes of processional driving with a few drivers blasting off into the distance while all the action happens behind; not that we can see any of it because apparently the cameras only care about the Hondas, BMWs and MGs.

A good anecdote here goes back to the very first meeting of the year at Brands Hatch. I was lucky enough to attend that meeting and I thoroughly enjoyed the racing. But speaking to my friends who watched it on TV, they claimed that the racing was utterly boring and processional. And they were right, considering all they were subjected to was the front of the field. The geniuses at the ITV camera department managed to miss, for example, the epic drive of touring car legend Alain Menu from the back of the grid to 17th in race 2 and then 5th in race 3. Yes Mr Addison, the media coverage is just so good it managed to miss some of the best battles this year. Just the greatest.

According to the TV coverage, the BTCC is mostly this man... Image Credit: BTCC.net

According to the TV coverage, the BTCC is mostly this man… Image Credit: BTCC.net

Better Quality of Racing?

Over the last few years, the BTCC has been slated as becoming too much of a contact sport, where places are gained through forcing the car in front off the track into the nearest wall. Of course throughout the golden years there was definitely no shortage of panel bashing, but as with alcohol consumption, everything in moderation kids! And some of the time this panel bashing was nothing more than a racing incident or the odd cheeky move. But when a driver essentially gets bored of being behind the car in front and gets past by nerfing him off the track and into the grave, that is just not right.

One solution to this problem is to introduce harsher penalties similar to that of F1. And with that the sport has started to descend into a dark chasm of sadness and despair. As some of you may know by now, my reasons for my dislike of F1 are down in the most part to the such high emphasis placed on politics and complaining. It has come to the point where the list of penalties may as well be read as a novel, with such colossal idiocy as track limits. I know the sport is trying to save money but surely not letting the cars touch the grass or the run off areas to save money on a lawnmower is a tad excessive. We appear to have gone from one annoyance extreme to another. It cannot be that difficult to find a good middle ground.

And of course we cannot forget the complaining that has befouled my ears this year. Yes Jason Plato I am looking at you. The debate surrounding RWD this year has become so predictable it borders on motorsport cliche. As much as the NGTC regulations are meant to bring everyone down to a level playing field there is always going to be some cars with certain advantages over others. In the 90s the RWD were given weight penalties and that was the end of it. Why can we not just do that now? But seemingly whatever happens as soon as the RWD cars do well people like Mr Plato begin their moaning once more.

If the RWD cars were truly at such an advantage then surely all of them would be miles up the front. However, last time I checked it was only really Colin Turkington who was consistently in the top 3. This is Colin Turkington, a highly successful past champion of the sport. Might this just be because he is a talented driver who deserves good results? I don’t see Rob Collard, Nick Foster and Rob Austin up the front. Can we not just go back to a time where the main focus was the racing? One of the reasons I loved the BTCC so much in comparison to F1 was the lack of politics. As it stands it is becoming just as bad.

The BTCC has always been action packed, but now it is more like banger racing. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The BTCC has always been action packed, but now it is more like banger racing. Image Credit: BTCC.net

Report Card

I never thought I would see the day where I am writing an article that massively criticizes my favourite motorsport. Alas I am becoming more worried that the BTCC has been trying so hard to reinvent itself and become something amazing that it has now started on a downhill slope. One of the many guidelines that shows me through life is the ‘Not Trying’ rule. The harder you try to do something, the less successful it often turns out to be. If Alan Gow and the BTCC organisers stop doing all they can to make the ultimate tin top sport and just let the BTCC evolve naturally then maybe I will finally be able to agree with Mr Addison. David Addison said that constantly looking back into the past will give you a sore neck, but I would rather have a sore neck and satisfied senses than be falling asleep at the wheel.

Rouse in his 1992 Toyota, give me this back any day... Image Credit: BTCC.net

Rouse in his 1992 Toyota, give me this back any day… Image Credit: BTCC.net

I am forever a child of the 90s, and to me it is still the number one era for touring cars.

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Peace and Love!

 

 

One comment

  1. chris glynn says:

    Shame you are getting disillusioned cos you have always loved the sport. But as always well written, well done Lewis

    August 21st, 2014 at 11:31 am