The British Touring Car Championship has become the first UK championship to introduce mandatory breath testing on every day of race events to ensure that all competitors and officials are free from the effects of alcohol in their system.
It is hoped that the move will raise awareness of the dangers of the ‘morning after driving’, which is often committed unintentionally after an evening of moderate drinking. Testing will be carried out on the morning of both Saturday and Sunday at an event.
The measures will be brought in for the next event at Oulton Park, with all drivers and championship officials being tested using calibrated AlcoSense breathalysers supplied by driver Hunter Abbott’s Now Group UK firm.
BTCC Series Director Alan Gow believes that the BTCC should set the standard in terms of motoring and delivering important road safety measures to the public.
“As the UK’s premier motor racing series the BTCC should continue to set benchmarks and this is another important step we can take,” said Gow. “Whilst random breath-testing does happen on occasion at various motor sport events, the BTCC is the first championship to mandate the zero-tolerance limit and back this up with compulsory testing each day at each event.
“All our drivers and officials have endorsed this zero-limit initiative as it delivers such an important road-safety message to the public in a high-profile way.”
Gow admits that the decision has come about thanks to a discussion with current BTCC driver Hunter Abbott, who joined the championship in a Rob Austin Racing Audi A4 this year.
“This was a bit of a personal crusade for me, as I have long thought that the sport does not carry out enough alcohol testing,” added Gow. “When I happened to mention this to Hunter Abbott of AlcoSense he immediately agreed to provide TOCA with the specialist equipment and training for us to make it happen – so I appreciate the commitment by AlcoSense to become the BTCC’s Official Alcohol Testing Partner.
“It’s difficult to calculate when alcohol has cleared your system as everyone is different – but in the last ten years the occurrence of ‘morning after drink driving’ road accidents has risen from 13% to 21%. Education is key and by pioneering this mandatory testing we believe the BTCC will raise more awareness of the dangers and help keep its drivers, officials and fans, safe – not only at the circuit but on the road.”