Eurosport Events have announced a raft of changes for the 2017 World Touring Car Championship season, including the allowance of FIA TCN2 cars and the potential for ‘joker’ laps.
TCN2 cars, which are in essence cars built to the TCR technical regulations, have been allowed in the FIA European Touring Car Cup since the start of the 2016 season, and will now be allowed into the main WTCC for 2017.
The class will be called ‘WTCC-2’ and is designed to allow “an accessible starting point for drivers and teams aiming to reach touring car racing’s top echelon”. The full sporting and technical regulations for the new class will be published shortly.
Another significant change will see the potential for the introduction of ‘joker laps’ at the street races in Marrakech in Vila Real, in a bid to spice up the racing. Taking a cue from the increasingly popular rallycross world, the joker laps will not be allowed to be taken until the third lap of the race. The rule change will require the approval of the FIA’s Safety and Circuit Commissions.
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, made it clear that the TCN2 rule change was being forced by the current economic climate, which has also reduced the calendar from the planned 12 events in 2016 to ten events in 2017.
“In the current economic climate we recognise the challenges being faced by drivers and teams to secure the finances required to race a TC1 World Touring Car,” explained Ribeiro.
“While the WTCC will clearly remain the pinnacle of touring car racing, WTCC-2 will provide a good platform for aspiring World Touring Car champions of the future to showcase their talents on a global stage, compete for an FIA title, but at a reduced cost by limiting WTCC-2 to TCN2-specification cars, which are more affordable to prepare and maintain.
“WTCC-2 competitors will benefit from the high event organisation standards, global media exposure and promotional activities in common with the WTCC.”
The sporting and logistical structure of a WTCC weekend has undergone changes too. The Main Race will now be two laps longer than the Opening Race, with a revised points scoring system to ensure that the race is more prestigious for competitors. Points will now be awarded on the basis of 30 – 23 – 19 – 16 – 13 – 10 – 7 – 4 – 2 – 1 to the top ten drivers.
There has also been a slight revision to the points scoring system for the new MAC3 contest for manufacturers, with the winning marque gaining two additional points for a win (now 12 points instead of ten).