The five BMW teams which together put seven cars on the grid in this year’s World Touring Car Championship are struggling to come to a competitive solution to compete in the 2014 season with new regulations now coming into force from next season.
With Citroën the only new manufacturer announcing a works programme next year to join Honda and Lada in the Championship, plans to allow only all-new cars built to the latest Super 2000 regulations in 2014 have been scuppered, which would have seen every car currently on the grid outlawed next season.
The solution instead is to allow mixed regulations, with cars running to the new regulations (1,100kg minimum weight with new aerodynamic packages and 18″ wheels) and an effective ‘Class 2’ created with older (Super 2000 Appendix J 2011) cars from next season.
In order to ensure the two classes aren’t completely separate and are at least able to mix together, the engine power output for next season is set to be increased and the teams are looking to upgrade the cars to run with 18″ tyres.
With SEAT still providing technical support to the WTCC, and RML representing the teams which continue to compete with the Chevrolet Cruze, there’s a possibility that these cars can receive some upgrades with the manufacturers blessing, but for BMW the situation is all the more complicated with their being limited support for the customer teams which race with the Bavarian machinery.
The production based 1.6 litre turbocharged engine, introduced in 2011 to support the customer teams just after BMW officially withdrew from the WTCC cannot deliver any more power, and the manufacturer is also unlikely to support any homologation changes to the BMW 320 TC which will be required if the car is to be configured to compete with 18″ wheels.
At Porto, the teams running with BMW cars agreed in principle to work together to collectively upgrade the 320 TC without BMW’s support if the FIA was able to support this, but with the cars running to 2011 Super 2000 rules likely to only be permitted to compete for just one more year before the 2014 regulations are adopted fully for 2015, the teams are now struggling to make the numbers add up for just one season alone.
This could see some of the BMW teams forced to switch to other manufacturer’s cars to compete next season, or in the case of team’s such as ROAL Motorsport which have a close tie-in with BMW, and teams with smaller budgets, they may forced to leave the Championship entirely.
“We have a few ideas for next season,” said Wiechers-Sport team manager Dominik Greiner to TouringCarTimes, fresh from taking the second BMW victory of the season in Argentina with José María López.
“The lines have become more clear now in the past few weeks, so we’ll try to find the best possible package for Wiechers-Sport to run next season. Our aim is to be back on the grid for sure.”
The early implementation of the new regulations in 2014 to accommodate new manufacturer entries from Citroën has already dissauded Rotek Racing from the WTCC, who’d planned to compete with two of Arena Motorsport’s Ford Focuses later in the season and into 2014.