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BTCC Memorable Drives: Two Toyotas, One Barrier

That's what you call an action shot. Image Credit: popscreen.com

That’s what you call an action shot. Image Credit: popscreen.com

For any motorsport team, there surely can be no better feeling than having one of the most competitive driver line ups on the grid. As the 1992 British Touring Car Championship rolled around, it was the Toyota team of previous champions Will Hoy and Andy Rouse that entered the season with this undeniable feeling of confidence and expectations. The two best drivers in arguably the strongest car on the grid. What could possibly go wrong? As the championship reached Brands Hatch, they were about to find out. 

The 1991 BTCC season was the inaugural year that the then brand new 2.0 litre formula was run on British soil; the previous multi-class operation had been thrown into the pages of history and replaced with a single class, high action championship. For many of the teams, 1991 had been a season of learning and development to acclimatize to this new era of racing. Therefore, as the engines roared into life for the 1992 season, the teams were ready to launch their full arsenal upon the tarmac in search of honour and glory.

The returning Vauxhall pairing of Jeff Allam and 1989 champion John Cleland were statistically the team to beat; both were proven race winners in a car that had already endured two previous seasons in the 2.0 litre specification. BMW had gone back to the drawing board for 1992, entering the brand new 318is in place of the now retired M3 for drivers Steve Soper and Tim Harvey. It would take a long time for the new BMW to become competitive. A handful of other teams including Vauxhalls, BMWs and even a Mazda completed the grid. There was however one other team.

 

Throughout 1991, Rouse developed his Toyota Carina into a strong contender. Image Credit: retrorides.proboards.com

Image Credit: retrorides.proboards.com

Will Hoy took his BMW M3 to the 1991 title. Image Credit: BTCCCrazy.co.uk

Image Credit: BTCCCrazy.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1991, the Kaliber Toyota team of Andy Rouse and Gary Ayles had endured a character building first year in a 2.0 litre machine. However, by the end of the season, Rouse was a proven race winner and completed the championship in 3rd position. To build on 1991 successes, Rouse joined forces with champion Will Hoy, who also brought with him his Securicor sponsorship from his BMW M3. The resulting car turned out to be a high-performance beast that quickly became everyone’s favourite for the championship. Not only that, but the Toyota team had arguably the two greatest touring car stars of the day driving for them. The titans of touring cars in ’92 were definitely going to be Toyota.

The first four rounds of the 1992 championship (Silverstone, Thruxton, Oulton Park and Snetterton) were very much dominated by Toyota and Vauxhall. Thanks to a somewhat memorable spin by Cleland at Oulton Park, it was Rouse that led the standings going into the fifth round at the Brands Hatch GP circuit. What had been clear throughout the opening rounds of the season was just how consistently competitive both the Toyota cars were. Watching back the footage from the ’92 season review, you can see that because the team was made up of the two best drivers in the field, they challenged and pushed each other throughout each race; You could draw a comparison between them and the on-track battles between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the recent 2014 F1 championship. Both cars/drivers have such incredible pace that they would make each other faster and faster. However, unlike Hamilton-Rosberg example, Hoy and Rouse had a solid friendship outside of the cars; there was none of this petty behaviour that became shockingly common in the F1 last year.

The original promotional poster used for the '92 Toyota team

The original promo used for the ’92 Toyota team. The perfect combination of Rouse and Hoy

Such harmony however was about to take a drastic tumble off a considerably gargantuan rock face. As with previous rounds, the race began with the two Toyotas battling with John Cleland in the Vauxhall. After swapping positions the two team mates found themselves side by side as they entered the famous GP loop of Brands Hatch. Andy Rouse edged ahead of Hoy, but heading into Westfields Hoy made his move up the inside. At first, it was a true execution of two great drivers battling at the edge of grip, performance and sanity. But then Hoy’s car moved left…

Words cannot truly describe what happens next. As such, here is the moment for you all to see:

BTCC 1992: Hoy and Rouse Crash at Brands Hatch

Added to the explosion of drama as the cars go searing off into the barrier at 120mph, you cannot forget the commentary of the one and only Murray Walker. He is a man whose voice IS motorsport:

“And, they’re off! Both of them off! Wha- Incredible!”

“And Rouse’s body language says rage and fury!”

Who is to blame for the incident? For some people, it appeared to be nothing more than a racing incident where two cars got too close together on track. For others, the blame can be placed on Will Hoy. After all, it was Will who made the decision to charge up the inside and his car that appeared to move over the left causing the incident. You can tell by the reaction of Rouse that he certainly did not see it as his fault, especially that these are the cars that he himself had engineered. Perhaps Hoy should not have made the move, but if perhaps Rouse had driven faster he wouldn’t have been overtaken in the first place. Furthermore, when you watch the footage, it appears (to me anyway) that Hoy’s car hit a small bump in the road that slightly unsettled the car; usually this wouldn’t cause any issue but when you have a car immediately to your left, well you saw what happened.

At the time, the incident was nothing more than the door handle to door handle action that you would get in any race. However, if we now fast forward to the famous final race of the ’92 season. The season ending race at Silverstone has become famous in its own right; 3 drivers, 1 title. However, what if the Toyota’s had never had that crash at Brands Hatch?

What if Rouse and Hoy did not crash that day? Image Credit: hispaniatecnica.com

What if Rouse and Hoy did not crash that day? Image Credit: hispaniatecnica.com

Let us assume Hoy had successfully completed the pass and finished the Brands Hatch race in 2nd position. That would add an extra 18 to his final total, meaning the championship would have been his and not Tim Harvey’s. Furthermore, Rouse would have found himself in a top 3 finishing position in the championship. Also please note that further points scores would have been affected from Brands as everyone else would have finished 2 places lower. Even with the astonishing development of the BMW team throughout the year, it was Toyota that (again I believe) had the strongest car and driver line up.

Essentially, the bottom line is that Toyota lost the championship at Brands Hatch. Is this a real life example of Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect? One race, one bump in the road, one incident that changed the entire course of the 1992 British Touring Car Championship.

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