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Grid penalties introduced for contact

Photo by Nick Dungan/ has told the BTCC drivers in no uncertain terms that there will be grid place penalties issued for drivers who repeatedly make contact this season.

TOCA bosses will continue penalising drivers’ licences through the season but will also give a six-place grid penalty to drivers who are given three warnings by the stewards, starting this weekend at Brands Hatch.

There are mixed views down the grid in response to the change, but the news has delighted Dan Welch whose father, former rallycross British Grand Prix winner John Welch, has claimed to be the brains of the new regime.

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“It’s great to hear action is being taken this season,” said Welch. “Last season got really stupid at times. We got hit off at least four times last year and points on licences made no difference, so it means that things will improve this year. Its great that our idea has been put into action!”

Rivals Mat Jackson and Tom Onslow-Cole are ambivalent in their opinions. “I think it’s good because driving standards do get bad sometimes,” said Jackson. “Its very good to see that its been taken on board that verbal warnings should tally with the points. But I’m sure we’ll fall foul of it at some point! I don’t think anybody goes out there with the intention of causing contact but its very close out there. I think it’ll help us and hinder us, but it adds spice to the championship for the spectators so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

Tom Onslow-Cole agrees with Mat Jackson. “Its a good idea. Ultimately if we do anything really bad we get points on our license anyway, but it does give TOCA a bit more control. It replaces a slap on the wrist so it stops people trying to push the boundaries regularly.

“It doesn’t make a difference to me,” added Onslow-Cole. “That’s not how I go racing! If I end up with a six-place grid penalty at some point in the season I may change my tune, but thats not my style!”

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