After the British GT’s trip to Spa-Francorchamps, Last Lap takes a look at five circuits outside the UK to go to if the BTCC did the same.
The UK’s most premier GT championship, and the British F3 Championship supporter series, recently went off to Spa-Francorchamps for their ‘Speedweek’ race weekend.
This trip out of the UK got us curious at Last Lap to wonder, ‘Where would we send the British Touring Car Championship if it were to do a similar out-of-the-UK race weekend?’
We have picked five choices if logistical and COVID-19 protocol were no barrier to the UK’s most famed touring car championship.
As one of Germany’s historic racing circuits, this venue packs a lot of history for a BTCC arrival.
Furthermore, it has hosted numerous touring car races in its past around the demanding bends, with the Class 1 DTM cars making an annual duel presence every year since the revival of the championship in 2001.
The current track record for a TCR on the GP layout (rather than the significantly faster DTM machines – excluding the now-GT3-based cars) is a 1m48.298s by Andreas Backman in a Hyundai i30 N in 2019.
It was recently in 2020 when Hyundai entered the BTCC (in fastback shape) and it be on familiar territory to battle the Ford Focus STs, WSR-backed Team BMW, and more.
TCR Europe has brought some exciting brawls at the circuit, especially since its most recent two races in 2019.
During the course of their 12-lap races, it was typical touring car action with side-by-side battles, wheel-to-wheel racing, and the incident here and there.
The Grand Prix Circuit is a fantastic configuration that incorporates a challenging complex of corners with little chance to establish a dull race – as exemplified by their regular touring car presence.
Le Mans Bugatti Circuit, France
Bringing the BTCC to Le Mans upps the historic factor as the venue is most known for hosting the 24 Hours of Le Mans, plus other ACO-organised 24-hour races.
However, it would feel cruel to put touring cars on a configuration with three stretches of Mulsanne Straights, plus a long run from Mulsanne Corner to Indianapolis. It would end up as a primary game of slipstreaming which is simply out of nature in touring cars.
Nevertheless, the Bugatti Circuit holds a plethora of history since it was constructed in 1965 and would be perfect for the BTCC.
A 2.6 mile layout combines a series of fast, demanding corners to make it one of the most memorable for action as drivers will be able to carry plenty of speed to go wheel-to-wheel with one another.
DTM raced here 13 years ago, but bringing the BTCC here would pose a level fight between the championship’s front-wheel drive hatchbacks and rear-wheel drive saloon cars at a historic venue.
Vallelunga Circuit, Italy
Italy is home to many thrilling motor racing circuits, from Imola to Monza, to Ferrari’s own Fiorano test circuit.
However, Imola would provoke too little opportunity to maintain wheel-to-wheel racing due to the narrow tarmac which would cause difficulty for overtaking.
Rather than let the BTCC drivers attempt to create their own gaps, Vallelunga is the obvious solution with a twisty but wider circuit enabling the close-quartered racing that the BTCC delivers on.
As far as the variant, the shorter Club layout would be more reasonable for the BTCC to have a mile-long track rather than just over 2.5 miles.
The races would bring the same kind of racing like Brands Hatch Indy, albeit without the dramatic incline changes.
The inaugural FIA Motorsport Games, running like the Olympics with drivers representing different countries, took place at the circuit in 2019 with six cups/categories.
One of which was Touring Cars (TCR – which are different to BTCC TOCA regulations) and hosted two races using the 2.5 mile variant.
Former Motorbase driver and then-recently crowned Jack Sears Trophy winner and Independents’ Champion Rory Butcher took part as a representative of Great Britain – but in an MG6 rather than the contemporary Toyota machinery he got behind the wheel earlier this year.
It was a typical display of touring car racing but ultimately highlights no reason to deny a BTCC special weekend at this circuit just on the outskirts of the capital city, Rome.
Red Bull Ring, Austria
After seeing Porsche Super Cup cars take on the Spielberg circuit, it makes perfect sense to host the BTCC if it were to venture out of the UK.
It would be primed to deliver in action with a circuit that ascends to the peak of Turn 3 before heading back down after Turn 4.
The run-offs and gravel traps, like at Turn 7, make this a challenging circuit for the drivers with a straights in the first sector to run side-by-side, but the rest of the track deeming that a difficulty. Incidents would be plentiful as drivers get frustrated by this.
Unsurprisingly, there has been a past presence of touring car racing here ranging from DTM, to TC Europe and TC Deutschland but if the BTCC went out of the UK for one weekend, this iconic circuit has to be up there on the list of potential destinations.
Watkins Glen International, USA
The USA has some of the world’s best and most underrated circuits and it would be at least a notable mention in this list to send the BTCC circus off to at least one track across the pond.
Home to a plethora of racing events, like IMSA’s Six Hours of the Glen and Indycar’s Grand Prix at the Glen, it is the anomaly here because it brings a naturally fast, grand configuration.
But drivers will be sure to enjoy the fast bends and changes in undulation throughout the quick lap.
Touring cars have raced here as recently as the beginning of this month as a category in IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge.
The Sahlen’s 120 At The Glen was a multi-class endurance race, but this doesn’t diminish what could be some exciting ground for some flat-out and intense BTCC racing. Ideally, the short layout will work best for touring car racing as it still carries the thrills of the Grand Prix circuit.
The rear-wheel drive BMWs and Infinitis favour the circuits high-speed, banked complexes.
Meanwhile, the front-wheel drive hatchbacks will be clawing time in the mid-corner as they attempt to run a tighter line thanks to the grip from the front-engine/front-drive placement.
A few eyebrows will be raised to the grand nature of this circuit or questions asked on whether the track would actually provide three close sprint races for touring cars.
Ultimately, it has always provoked some of the best racing as exemplified from the Mazda MX 5 Cup races.
It goes without saying the BTCC drivers would enjoy the exuberance of the Glen.
What are thoughts on this selection? Let us know where you’d send the BTCC off too!