24/04/2024

Your Guide to the BTCC

Image of the 2024 EXCELR8 BTCC car on the track with the other cars

What is the BTCC?

The BTCC or the ‘British Touring Car Championship’ is one of the most famous motor racing championships. Since starting in 1958, it has captivated millions of fans worldwide.

In its early years, iconic brands such as Jaguar, Ford, and Mini claimed victory, recognising the BTCC’s significance in showcasing their latest models. The BTCC evolved over the years to exclusively feature 2-litre cars, attracting high-profile manufacturers, teams, and drivers.

What cars are used?

The cars used in the BTCC resemble modified versions of everyday road cars, including compact saloons and family hatchbacks like the Hyundai i30N, Ford Focus ST and Toyota Corolla. These cars adhere to Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) rules, incorporating standardised parts for various components to reduce costs.

Who are the teams and drivers?

Teams competing in the BTCC vary. With carefully crafted regulations, the championship provides a level playing field for both major vehicle manufacturers such as ‘Honda’ and ‘BMW’, and independently-run teams such as the ‘Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 team’ to compete evenly.

The driver line-up includes experienced drivers alongside newcomers aiming to make their mark in the championship. Drivers in the BTCC usually have worked their way up through from a young age racing in Ginetta juniors, karting and support series such as the MINI CHALLENGE to name a few.

When and where does it happen?

The BTCC season runs annually, usually from April to October, with a break during the summer to give drivers and teams a rest. Events are held around every few weeks, across tracks all over the UK. Iconic venues such as Silverstone and Brand Hatch play host to the championship, entertaining fans nationwide.

Where can I watch it?  

Tickets to enjoy the action LIVE can be bought online via the race track or BTCC website, or at the race circuit on the day. There’s just nothing like attending in person!

However, if you are unable to attend, the BTCC enjoys extensive television coverage on ITV4 and ITVX, with qualifying sessions also streamed online, providing fans with various ways to follow the action. In a new addition for 2024, races will also be streamed LIVE on TikTok for global audiences to enjoy, thanks to ITV sport.

Race Weekend Structure

There are 10 events in the current race season, with each event occurring on a weekend at tracks across the UK. Each race weekend consists of two BTCC Free Practice (FP) sessions and three Qualifying sessions on Saturday, followed by three races on Sunday which last about 30 minutes each. Alongside the BTCC calendar there are also a number of thrilling support series’ such as the MINI CHALLENGE and Porsche Carrera Cup which provide added excitement to the weekend.

New Qualifying Format

Qualifying on Saturday determines the grid positions for the first race. This now includes a unique ‘Quick Six’ format which is a new introduction for the 2024 season, enhancing the excitement.

After FP2, the cars are divided into 2 groups. Group 1 consists of all cars that finished FP2 in odd positions, and Group 2 consists of all cars that finished in even positions. Each group participates in a 10 minute session, with the fastest 6 from each group advancing to Qualifying 2: ‘Top 12’. The Top 12 cars then qualify together in another 10 minute session, with the fastest 6 from this group advancing to Qualifying 3: the ‘Quick Six’. The ‘Quick Six’ qualify in the final 10 minute session to determine the top six grid positions for Race 1.

Race grid rules – Keeping it competitive

Chief executive Alan Gow is dedicated to preventing domination by a single team or driver, so the BTCC employs various rules and regulations to ensure close competition. Starting positions for each race weekend’s three races are determined differently to encourage overtaking and prevent predictability. In the BTCC, getting pole position on the Saturday doesn’t guarantee success, and the qualifying system leads to lots of overtaking and close-contact racing.

The grid for each race is determined differently:

  • Race 1: Based on Saturday’s qualifying session.
  • Race 2: Based on the finishing order of Race 1.
  • Race 3: Includes a reverse grid element based on finishing positions of Race 2.

What is Reverse Grid?

The reverse grid only applies to Race 3. The numbers representing the cars that finished from 6th to 12th position from Race 2 are put into a bowl, with one number drawn at random. The car selected will start on pole, with the cars that finished ahead of it reversed. For example, if 6 is chosen, the car that finished 6th in Race 2 will start from pole position, ahead of the car that finished 5th, 4th, 3rd etc. The remainder of the grid follows, based on the finishing order of Race 2.

Is contact allowed?

While the BTCC is officially a non-contact series, the close racing and competitive nature often lead to on-track contact. However, the championship organisers have strict rules against unnecessary collisions, with penalties enforced by a panel of stewards.

Technical requirements of cars

All cars in the BTCC adhere to NGTC regulations, using common components to reduce costs while maintaining competitiveness. Engines can be either TOCA’s unbranded NGTC-spec engine or developed by teams within specified parameters including being 350+bhp 2-litre turbo-charged engines.

Tyre rules include the mandatory use of an ‘option’ tyre which helps to level the playing field at four rounds of the season, Croft, Knockhill, Oulton Park and Snetterton. At most events, two of the three tyre compounds (hard, medium, or soft) are used, with the option tyre required to be used at least once during Race 1, Race 2 or Race3.  However, at Snetterton and Croft, all three tyre choices must be used across the three races. Teams do not need to specify which race they will use the option tyre, the choices are declared upon leaving the pit lane.

The implementation of Hybrid Power

In 2022, the BTCC introduced hybrid power technology, offering an extra performance boost. Building on its success, several enhancements have been implemented to maximise its impact. Deployment regulations now vary depending on championship position. Additionally, a new ‘Quick Six’ qualifying format was introduced in 2024.

The top 7 cars have reduced Hybrid time during qualifying and racing, on a sliding scale, but the minimum speed at which the system can be deployed for the top 7 has been increased. Cars from 8th place onwards can deploy Hybrid power at a lower minimum speed, ensuring drivers can use the additional power quicker than the leading order. However, these cars are limited to using hybrid deployment for only 50% of the race laps, ensuring a greater tactical element, with drivers having to be more strategic in choosing which laps to use it.

Hybrid can now also be deployed on the first lap after the safety car, and the minimum time between deployments has been extended to five seconds, preventing drivers from staying on the power across laps.

What is the scoring system?

Points are awarded to the top 15 finishers in each race. The scoring system is as follows:

  • 1st place: 20 points
  • 2nd place: 17 points
  • 3rd place: 15 points
  • 4th place: 13 points
  • 5th place: 11 points
  • 6th place: 10 points
  • Decreasing incrementally by 1 point until 15th Place: 1 point.

This scoring method applies to both the independent drivers and teams championships as well as the overall team standings. Additionally, single bonus points are awarded for the following achievements:

  • Fastest qualifier
  • Fastest lap in each race
  • Leading a lap during races

The Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 Team

The Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 team has been a notable presence in the BTCC, fielding competitive entries and achieving success in recent seasons. The 2022 season solidified EXCELR8’s position among the BTCC elite, with Tom Ingram and Jack Butel being joined by BTCC race winners Tom Chilton and Dan Lloyd. The team secured third place overall and Ingram clinched his inaugural overall Drivers’ title with the team.

Building on this, Tom Ingram and Tom Chilton welcomed Nick Halstead and Ronan Pearson in 2023, leveraging their teammates’ expertise. In 2024, the line up remains unchanged, supported by Millers Oils and Repsol, who are delighted to partner with the team as they continue to make waves in Britain’s premier motorsport series.

Read more about the partnership here.