Saturday, October 10, 2009

WTCC coming to the United States?


Well, it is the World Touring Car Championship so why not expand the races outside of Europe? Thankfully, the WTCC added tracks to the 2009 calendar for Mexico, Japan and South America and according to the head promoter of the WTCC Marcello Lotti he would love to see a WTCC race or two as early as the 2011 race year on possibly Laguna Seca and the Homestead street track in Miami.

Even better is that this would encourage more manufacturers to enter the WTCC to compete against BMW, Chevrolet and SEAT and their 320Si, Lacetti and Leons, respectively. One possible addition would be Ford who are eyeing the possibility of enrolling in the FIA-sanctioned event with the new 2010 Focus. When asked about where would the races likely be held, Lotti said he would like to host the races in the South due to a wider acceptance of small cars.

We're hoping the U.S. gets the races as it would be great to see a true touring car competition on U.S. soil as the KONI Challenge and Speed World Touring Car Challenge don't seem to have as much traction as they deserve. In terms of marketing, the hope would be that many of the smaller cars that companies like Chevrolet and Ford are beginning to gear themselves toward in the U.S. market might be given a second look by Americans when they see the capabilities of these cars on the track. Is win on Sunday, sell on Monday a dead slogan? We certainly hope not. With the WTCC racing in North America we could see the added benefit of companies like BMW actually building more demand for their 4-cylinder cars that many enthusiasts have missed for so many years since the E36 318ti went out of production. Personally, I'd love to see homologation cars such as the E90 32oSi being sold stateside as most of the world is privy to these special edition cars.

For those that don't know, the WTCC has been around since 1987 as a sort of upgrade to the European Touring Car Championship that had been around for years and years. The WTCC carried many of the same principles of the ETCC with cars that had to be homologated and as close to road-going spec as possible, typically with caps on engine displacement and horsepower to keep the competition close. Cars like the original E30 M3 and Ford Sierra gained particular notoriety with their dominance in the sport. As the series progressed other manufacturers came and went such as Audi throughout the 1990s with the then-new A4, Volvo with one of their wagons and the Russian manufacturer Lada even taking the opportunity to through a car into the mix.
Any quite a mix it is! WTCC is known for a lot of paint swapping as you have a tremendous number of cars typically on cramped circuits such as Brands Hatch, Pau and Macau. Some of the most recent closer calls were when Jason Plato's SEAT Leon was rammed from behind on the long downhill turn at Brands Hatch, caught air at the rear of the car and then managed to steer out of it with his front-wheel-drive hatchback or when Englster's BMW ran into the pace car when it veered onto the Pau circuit in front of him. You also have interesting stories like Alex Zanardi, who lost both his legs below the knees in a CART accident, still remaining highly competitive in a modified BMW 320Si.
Under the current Super 2000 regulations, none of the engines can have a displacement greater than 2,000cc and you find a well-mixed field of cars that are both rear-wheel and front-wheel driven compared to NASCAR of even Formula One with strictly rear-driven cars. Given the current state of the auto industry, this could be a bit of a shot in the arm for motorsport and offer a bit of variety to American gearheads. As as a U.S. taxpayer and thereby de facto shareholder in GM, I'd love to see the Lacetti/Cobalt tearing up circuits around this great country.

(Source: Autoblog)

1 comment:

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