WHO NEEDS TECH? BTCC BOSS GIVES HIS TAKE

The Kelly Racing Mustangs of Andre Heimgartner and Rick Kelly at the 2020 Australian Grand Prix. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

BRITISH Touring Car Championship boss Alan Gow says a single engine formula could be applied to Supercars and has outlined his championship’s approach to creating entertainment rather than a showcase of engineering and technology.

Speaking with V8 Sleuth’s Aaron Noonan on the latest V8 Sleuth Podcast Powered By Timken, the expat Aussie answered a fan question relating to the topic based upon his experience of the BTCC, where a control TOCA branded ‘spec’ engine is an option for teams.

The turbo, two-litre engines can be fitted to any car built to the NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) regulations. Manufacturers have the ability to run an engine of their own creation to the rules, however the spec engine is also an option to use.

Asked whether a one engine formula could be applied to Supercars, Gow replied, “Yes, it would because I think all your engines now are anyway, aren’t they?

“So what’s the difference between having one engine manufacturer supplying the whole field? Why wouldn’t it work?”

Gow recalls the peak of the BTCC in the Super Touring era in the podcast, where manufacturers were spending millions and millions of pounds on the category until the costs blew out and the Super Touring era ended at the end of 2000.

He says making things far simpler is the key learning from the modern BTCC’s approach compared to its Super Touring history.

The Volvo S40 was a feature of the BTCC from 1997 to 1999 before ultimately costs blew through the roof and the formula ended after 2000 in the UK. This is Jim Richards aboard an ex-BTCC Volvo S40 at Lakeside in 1999. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

“There were great learnings from the Super Touring era, how not to waste money and how to really appreciate what the viewers and the spectators want to see,” he said.

“We looked at things like the engine, no one on the side of the spectator bank cares about the internal workings of the engine.

“No one cares what the gearbox is like. No one cares what sort of diff a car has. No one cares what the electronics are like. No one cares how much telemetry there is between the cars and the pits or if there is any.

“All the spectator wants to see is good, hard, close racing. If you can deliver that, whilst stripping away all the unnecessary costs, then you’ve found the formula.

“That’s what we did with the current era of the BTCC. We just looked at it and said, ‘who cares if the gearboxes are all the same? Who cares if half the field has the same engine?’

“It doesn’t matter to anyone. No one differentiates between those things anymore, apart from the dyed-in-the-wool rev head.

“If you want to provide entertaining motorsport, then take away all the engineering masturbation exercise and just put on entertaining motorsport. That’s what we do.

“The teams like real-time telemetry, what’s all that about? Why do you need real-time telemetry between cars and the pits?

“If you give too much information to the driver, then you will make the driver drive to the engineer rather than driving to his own seat of the pants and drive to the race unfolding around him.

“We don’t allow any real-time telemetry. We don’t allow that sort of stuff. That’s what makes the racing even better.”

With over 20 years in the Australian motorsport industry, Noonan is the head of V8 Sleuth. He’s held a range of roles including working in television with Seven and Ten, print media and public relations. With a specialty in Australian motorsport history, he’s known around racing paddocks as ’the Sleuth’ and started his motorsport media career in 1997.