Just days after the curtain fell on the 2016 WTCC season, the rumour mill is already full with speculation about the 2017 season. Both Citroen and Lada are ending their WTCC programs, taking 5 of the 18 cars on the grid with them. This could be an issue, as numbers could fall below the minimum of 16 cars. It is feared that falling bellow this number could lead to the cancellation of events. As a result, the idea of a two tier championship being introduced in 2017.
The proposal would use TC2N specification cars in a second tier, but on the same grid as the current TC1 cars. Based on TCR cars, there are alterations to the safety equipment to make them TC2N cars. Used in the European Touring Car Cup, a total of 20 cars have been entered this year. Honda, Seat and Peugeot have all been represented this season, with a further six manufactures with eligible cars. This could lead to some new manufactures being represented in the WTCC while some old marques return. A move to these regulations could also see the return of Alfa-Romeo, Seat and Ford to the series.
This wouldn’t be the first time this has happened, as the same happened in 2014 as the series transitioned from the S2000 spec cars to the current TC1 cars. In that year, 17 TC1 cars competed against a total of 5 S2000 cars giving a pretty healthy grid. However, with just 13 cars returning and no new cars being built, a split grid could be inevitable.
Compared to the S2000 cars, the TC1 cars haven’t been as widely adopted. Partially due to the huge cost required to purchase and run them, and also that the WTCC is the only place they can be used. The success of the TCR regulations has been the creation of numerous national championships. These series give the cars an extra place to race, while also allowing smaller teams to compete in select international races with the same cars. While the proposal uses the TC2N regulations, a smarter move may be to use the full TCR specification cars. While there is the International series, it would also give the cars an official world championship to fight for.
There have also been rumours that the WTCC will move to the “class one” regulations. A joint venture by the organisers of DTM and Super GT in Japan, the class 1 regulations were designed to bring more manufactures into both series. There was also talk of a series being set up in the USA for this type of car. Featuring a 2-litre turbocharged engine, rear wheel drive and a standardised carbon monocoque, these are proper racing cars. Their implementation into the DTM has been delayed until 2019. In Japan rumours have it that the move is off completely, with manufactures looking at GT3 as an alternative.
A move to class one would see all but one of the current marques left out. Chevrolet have the Camaro which would confirm to the current class one regulations. A move to these regulations could see the return of BMW while the rest of the current DTM and Super GT500 teams eligible. This could spell disaster for grids, as the cost behind these cars could be even larger than those of the TC1 regulations.
An official announcement is due from the World Motorsports Council in the next few weeks. This should also include a provisional calendar for 2017. Do you think the WTCC should include TCR cars on a split grid? Or would the faster and more aggressive class one cars be brought in as a replacement?
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