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. 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!