West Surrey Racing plan to switch to the BTCC’s Next Generation Touring Car regulations next year as their first option for continuing in the Championship, ruling out carrying on with the S2000-spec BMWs which will no longer be competitive by next season.
The team made the switch from the standard normally aspirated 2.0 litre engine to an NGTC-specification two-litre turbocharged engine for this season in their S2000 BMW 320sis, and started the year with a win at Brands Hatch for Rob Collard, but with 14 of the first 18 races of the Championship won by NGTC-spec cars, the team is finding that S2000 cars have rapidly become uncompetitive.
“The 17″ tyres are definitely inferior to the 18″, so the problem is now with two top teams designing and building NGTC cars they’ve lifted the game massively, but nothing’s been done to help us,” said Team Principal Dick Bennetts to TouringCarTimes.
Referring to the Championship’s boost equalisation measures which are being used this season, Bennetts added:
“We all signed up to it, so we have to get through it this year, but it’s not right because you can set a fast lap but that doesn’t mean you’ve got a good car for the race.”
“Now that we’ve done half a season and done a lot of studying, we know now the front-wheel drive NGTC cars don’t get the degradation through a race that they used to get. One of the advantages of the rear-wheel drive car was the less degradation through the race. We’ve got a little more degradation than the normally aspirated car, that’s normal for the turbo, but the others aren’t getting as much degradation (as expected)…It’s a tough one for TOCA to sort out. But we know for next year we have to run an NGTC car to be competitive.”
Expanding on the team’s NGTC plans, Bennetts added:
“That’s what we want to do, it’s our first option, but it’s raising the money to do it. They’re not cheap cars…£200-£220k for a car that’s basically a kit car.”
“We want to do one, but unless we can raise the money we’ll have to look at another formula, or I’m at the age of retirement now so I’ll have to weigh it up, but I still enjoy racing. But I don’t enjoy racing if we can’t be competitive. I don’t want to go racing to make up numbers.”