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Featured Is Citroen’s withdrawal a sign of things to come?

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by Paul Jeffrey, Nov 19, 2015.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    Sim Racing News Editor Staff Member Premium Member

    With the news that French powerhouse Citroen are to reduce its manufacturer presence next season prior to a complete withdrawal at the end of the year, is the writing on the wall for the once class leading World Touring Car Championship?

    Touring car racing has always been a funny thing, in past years one series had always risen to the top and had its pick of the best drivers and teams, often at the cost of other championships the world over. Back in the 1990’s we had Super Touring Car regulations pioneered by the British Touring Car Championship and adopted across the globe in various National iterations. Many considering this the heyday of touring car racing with big budget manufacturers running highly paid professional drivers fighting for spoils across Europe in a selection of fiercely competitive national championships. With standalone 'World Cup' invitation events held at seasons end containing each series best cars and drivers, this 'golden age' of racing attracted huge crowds and TV viewing figures throughout the world.


    Following the demise of those regulations came a dark few years with many series either falling by the wayside or beginning the slow process of rebuilding under new and revised regulations created in isolation by the local governing bodies of that particular Motorsport Association.

    The mid 2000’s brought somewhat of a renaissance for the world of tin top’s with the introduction of Super 2000 regulations being run by firstly the European Touring Car Championship and continued with the birth of the newly reformed World Touring Car Championship, becoming the de rigour for top level championships all across Europe and Asia. These accessible and impressive machines once again prompted a return of serious works teams and drivers and led to another growth spurt for touring cars the world over. With many great drivers in series as diverse as the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, BTCC and World Touring Car Championship fighting for honours in cars with shared regulations across differing series (thus lowering costs for teams who wish to enter championships with ex works vehicles purchased from manufacturers) touring car racing was once again at the forefront of the motorsports scene.

    wtcc 08.jpg

    Unfortunately the economic crash of 2008 hit many teams and championships hard, causing manufactures to look closely at how they spent their money and many found going racing every other weekend was not a cost effect form of advertising. With mass withdrawals and increasing costs becoming prohibitive for private Independent teams to pick up the mantle, once again touring car racing had to take a long hard look at their regulations for the coming years.

    During those years of boom and bust, one lesson that is overriding clear to anyone who cares to look is that a successful touring car formula works best when the regulations are adopted across different national series. One where cars are eligible to race in multiple championships and a thriving second hand market exists, allowing independent teams an opportunity to run modern, competitive machinery without the need to align themselves with a works team or spend many hundreds of thousands of dollars developing their own bespoke vehicle that is limited to its own series and will eventually become redundant as development enhances.
    This brings us to the last wholesale regulation changes implemented by the FIA back at the start of the 2014 WTCC season. With an eye on becoming more relevant to road car technology and supposedly ‘improving the visual aspects of a touring car racing’ the FIA introduced TC1 regulations.


    The TC1 cars were still built to Super 2000 regulations, but with significant changes compared to the 2011 generation of cars. The minimum weight of the cars was reduced from 1,150 kilograms (2,540 pounds) to 1,100 kilograms (2,400 pounds), and was accompanied by an increase in the power output of the engine, which rose to 380 bhp, an increase of between 50 and 60 bhp depending on the engine being used. The size of the wheels being used increased to 18", with MacPherson strut suspension being introduced to all cars. The dimensions of the cars changed, with a maximum width of 1,950 mm (77 in), and a 100 mm (3.9 in) front splitter. Changes to the aerodynamic package allowed teams to use flat floors, and introduce single-plane rear wings that were allowed, but to be no higher than the roof of the car.

    With the regulations being used only for the WTCC (and arguable if these changes actually improved the on track spectacle) once again the ‘premier’ touring car series was left to forge its own patch amongst the many different touring car formats available around the world (BTCC now use NGTC regulations, DTM have their own in conjunction with the Japanese Super GT series and several less established series use variations of S2000 rules). Initially proving attractive to manufactures such as Citroen and Lada, the new rules pushed out many established independent teams who baulked at costs associated with the new machinery and limited opportunity to use their new acquisitions outside of the WTCC. This led to many teams and cars leaving the series and a paltry 17 vehicles lined up on the starting grid for the first round of the championship on the streets of Morocco, 3 cars of which ran to the older specification TC2 regulations.

    Around this time Marcello Lotti, General Manager of the WTCC left the series to form his own breakaway championship, aimed at delivering low cost rules and regulations that can be adopted across many different series and formats throughout the world. This new TCR concept continues to grow from strength to strength with a stella line-up of 30 cars registered for the season ending Macau Grand Prix this coming weekend. Several national championship are already adopting the regulations after only a single season of competition including the newly re launched Asia Touring Car Championship that runs alongside Formula One Grand Prix when the F1 circus visits the far east.


    With Lotti's new series(s) adopting the tried and tested format of cross series regulation sharing and low cost manufacturing and running, the writing could well be firmly on the wall for the WTCC as we know it.

    Although not all bad news with a recent revelation that Volvo are due to return to the grid in 2016, the FIA World Touring Car Championship really does need to take a long hard look at itself if it wants to survive and prosper in the crowded motorsports scene. With Citroen's exit at the end of 2016 leaving top class drivers Yvan Muller and Jose Maria Lopez without a seat to ply their trade, it will be interesting indeed to see if two of touring cars top stars keep the faith with the WTCC or move over to try their hand in the TCR International Series.

    Whatever way one looks at it, these next few years could well determine the Touring Car landscape for years to come.

    Let us know your opinions in the comments section below!
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015
  2. Bram

    Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    For me the WTCC died many years ago when BMW left as a factory team. Not being able to keep them on board was the first of many major mistakes made that led to the current state the WTCC is in.

    Google old ETCC / WTCC videos from back in the days 2005, 2006, 2007 and compare them to the extremely boring parades we have seen in the Chevrolet/Citroen era and you'll see where the organizers have missed an exit.

    Citroen and the whole series won't be missed. Let's hope TCR takes over as the premier touring car series and don't make the same mistakes again.
    • Agree Agree x 8
    • Winner Winner x 1
  3. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    Sim Racing News Editor Staff Member Premium Member

    Sadly I would agree with the above from Bram.

    I recall going to watch the ETCC / WTCC back in the mid 2000's and the cars / drivers / racing / fans / atmosphere really did remind me of the good old days of Super Touring. Most of the racing was good, hard, close fights and not an inch given all through the field.

    Sadly, even discounting the dominance of Citroen (will I ever spell that right first time?) the racing is just plain pants, and for me the cars don't look or act like a proper touring car should at all.

    Its been on deaths door for a while now, and TCR just seems to get better and better it seems.

    I hate to say it because I've loved the WTCC for a long time, but its had its day now.

    Just 1 more title for Tarquini, that's all I ask....
  4. Jimlaad43

    Nice apex, I'll take it! Staff Member Premium Member

    (Except for the appalling driving standards) the BTCC's new NGTC regulations have been great. The racing hasn't been affected and the sheer number of different cars competing is staggering. This year's WTCC had 4 different car types all season, boring. The BTCC had 10 different car manufacturers, 6 of which took wins. The BTCC is thriving again, and NGTC is the regulation set that is both popular and good for racing.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Paul Bennett

    Paul Bennett
    Premium Member

    BTCC is now back on form, it did go quite for during the ression years. It's like the glory days have returned full grids large crowds, 3 sprint races keeps the boys on their toes always a fight to death every race
  6. Tobias Röhner

    Tobias Röhner
    Germany's greatest Indycar Fan. Premium Member

    WTCC has been pretty unwatcheable since BMW left the sport. It just doesn't feel like proper touring car racing anymore.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  7. Emerson Meyer

    Emerson Meyer
    Keep Fighting Premium Member

    Submarine races are more exciting than this series.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  8. Arne Dopudja

    Arne Dopudja
    Leader of the infamous Chevy Gang.

    SuperTouring was the way. Keep the 380 HP engines, limit to side silhouetter +10cm front and rear, limit frontal silhouette to factory wheel hub. And reduce spoiler size.
  9. Shawn Jacobs

    Shawn Jacobs
    SpeedyMite Racing Premium Member

    For me personally (besides the parade of the 3 same cars at the front every race for the last few years Chevy/Citroen) GT3 has been the real killer for the wtcc.

    The range of cars is awesome, the fact that there are series all over the world with the same regs and some absolutely spectacular races are putting the nail in coffin.

    Even the Bathurst 12 hour is starting to become an event I look forward to more then the 1000.

    This may all just be me though lol
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. With S2000 Touring cars dying who will replace them? V8 Supercars? TCR?
  11. if more v8sc series appeared thated be great.

    I haven't watched traditional touring cars since fwd took over. if their is no rwd/4wd its not racing fwd cars cant sustain a series on their own.
  12. rocafella1978

    Premium Member

    agree 1/32 scale amateur RC races are more exciting than WTCC! unwatchable for me at least!
  13. Hey, wait a minute...you never saw the USS Scorpion -vs- the USS Thresher! :confused::)
    • Haha Haha x 2
  14. Shawn Jacobs

    Shawn Jacobs
    SpeedyMite Racing Premium Member

    V8 supercars will be different come 2017 as well, regulations are changing to allow 4 and 6 cylinder engines. It'll still hopefully be close racing and I guess it's more in line with modern cars
  15. Frederic Schornstein

    Frederic Schornstein
    TXL Racing Premium Member

    WTCC is just a plain stupid series now. In the past at every event guest starters could appear with their local S2000 machinery. Shipping those cars all around the globe for two 25min races that are just booring is a massive waste of money.

    If you are an independant team it is a lot cheaper to go and race a GT3 car. A TC1 car costs around 500.000€ you can get a GT3 for half the money, you can basically race it every weekend somewhere in the world and they have more power, look better and provide more exciting races.

    I personally really like the NGTC/BTCC format. Always exciting lots of diffrent cars, fun tracks etc. 17 TC1 cars on modern F1 circuits like China just look out of place.

    It is really funny how Citroen basically wrote the TC1 regs, spent a huge amount on a very professional team and then they pull out after 3 years.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  16. Emerson Meyer

    Emerson Meyer
    Keep Fighting Premium Member

    What about the race around Nordschleife? 3 laps... pffff
  17. Ironic that one of the main causes of recent disinterest in the WTCC are first to leave. Citroen, who are only ever interested in dominance rather than competition, taking an extra year to develop a car to not-yet-legal new specs catered to their needs while other companies were busy providing a show on track, something they will do yet again in the WRC. Though I'll never root for them for sporting reasons, I suppose I can't fault their business logic.:cautious:

    And even though Rob Huff is making a mockery of the current crop of TCR drivers in Macau, there aren't many stars in the WTCC either, most of whom would be considered too old for any other top-flight championship. Indicating the overall lack of interest from drivers as well as spectators and sponsors.

    Agree with the many references to GT3 already posted. More directly, TCR is to TC1 what GT3 was to GT1: a similar product at a lower cost, promoted at a lower/national level, which will gain the interest and loyalty of professional racing teams, which are more valuable in the long term than fickle manufacturers programs.
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 1
  18. I really can't for the life of me understand why there is no factory support of BTCC.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  19. in the end of the day they still have the same chassis dimensions, gearing, locked diff, aero values and suspension setups so they will still be more sideways, more curb aggressive and more racey than gt3 cars.
  20. Whatever happens I just hope that the top TC series has a few RWD cars, these FWD cars are the work of the devil... :mad: