With the exception of V8 Supercars, there isn’t many Touring Car Series’ (either national or global) which provide such competitive, tightly packed and full contact racing as the BTCC, and Friday’s action served as a strong reminder that many of Motorsports greatest starts and talents would no doubt find British Touring Cars a challenge. Arguably F1 and to some extent the DTM do require a more technical and precise approach, but for pure race craft and intuition the BTCC is streaks ahead. Not often in F1 after 16 laps do you find cars having to attack and defend at the same time, all whilst getting bumped and pushed from all angles but herein lies the beauty of Touring Cars, drivers are free to do all the above things without fear of car damage, reprimand and team orders, and so they develop a unique set of abilities which single seater racing drivers struggle to pick up later in their career.
We can find good examples of this when looking at the DTM. With the exception of Mika Hakkinen, very few successful F1 drivers have made a strong transition into Touring Car racing. Coulthard, Glock, Ralf Schumacher and McNish are all examples of successful single seater racing drivers who have struggled with the transition into full contact, tightly packed Touring Cars. Whether it be they are nearing the end of the careers and simply don’t have the pace, or they’ve forgotten some of the highly tuned race craft they no doubt had when they left Karting all those years ago, it seems a worrying trend that drivers in top to mid level single seaters struggle with their returns to tin top racing.
Of course this argument could go both ways but is you remember, Paul di Resta was no slouch at Force India between 2011 and 2013 when he “stepped up” from DTM to F1, and it’s hard to imagine Pascal Wehrlein struggling to match his teammate for pace should he get a chance at Manor next year….
And this brings us full circle to the start of today’s article. Last night’s ROC showed that although devoid of the coverage F1 and to some extent DTM receives around Europe and the World, the BTCC isn’t merely a stepping stone in a driver’s quest to race in other Motorsport series, but a fine example of everything good about British Motorsport and indeed global Touring Car racing. Many people look back fondly at Super Touring Era of the BTCC (myself included) but maybe it’s time we started looking right into the present and appreciate what a quality Championship British Touring Cars really is.
I look forward to another night of ROC action in London this evening when I’m sure we’ll see Priaulx, JM Lopez and indeed Plato right back up there among the F1 greats.