The 2016 motorsport season is about to begin and the highly popular Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has announced a record full-season entry list – representing the largest and most diverse line-up in the 57-year history of the series.
Although a total of 11 different marques are represented, Toyota models comprise a significant proportion of the grid, with four independent teams running five Avensis saloons in the 32-car grid.
Due to the introduction of new control components as part of a scheduled mid-term evaluation of NGTC regulations, the playing field has been levelled for the 2016 season. Only a handful of cars have retained the same specification as last year. There is also a new soft tyre compound that each car must use a total of three times in each of the three weekend races (excluding Thruxton) during the course of the season.
Teams and drivers
Popular race-winner and fan-favourite Rob Austin is the high-profile signing for Handy Motorsport. In his BTCC career to date, Austin has secured a total of 11 podiums, one pole position and four fastest laps. No doubt he will be looking to string together an outright championship challenge this year.
Signed again by Speedworks Motorsport for 2016 is 22-year-old BRDC SuperStar Tom Ingram. Last year Ingram helped his team achieve 23 points finishes from 30 starts – 18 of which were inside the top ten – and one podium finish. Indeed, it was that tussle with two-time champion Jason Plato that was voted the most exciting battle of the 2015 season.
(From left to right: Rob Austin, Tom Ingram, Michael Epps, Chris Smiley, Jake Hill)
Emerging talents Michael Epps and Chris Smiley plan to establish themselves in the BTCC following successful campaigns in different one-make series last year. Meanwhile, 22-year-old rising star Jake Hill secured his drive following a promising stint in the BTCC last year and after winning the Jack Sears Trophy in 2013. All three drivers belong to Team HARD, which runs both the RCIB Insurance Racing and TLC Racing teams.
|11||Rob Austin||Handy Motorsport||Toyota Avensis||Independent|
|12||Mike Epps||RCIB Insurance Racing||Toyota Avensis||Independent/Rookie|
|22||Chris Smiley||TLC Racing||Toyota Avensis||Independent/Rookie|
|24||Jake Hill||RCIB Insurance Racing||Toyota Avensis||Independent|
|80||Tom Ingram||Speedworks Motorsport||Toyota Avensis||Independent|
Season calendar and vital stats
The 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will again consist of 30 races across ten events at nine venues around the UK, with the season commencing at Brands Hatch in early April and concluding on the legendary Grand Prix circuit at the same venue in early October. See below for the full calendar and some extra statistics.
|ROUND||DATE||VENUE||CORNERS||CIRCUIT LENGTH||LAP RECORD|
|1-3||2-3 April||Brands Hatch Indy||10||1.21 miles||48.498|
|4-6||16-17 April||Donington Park||8||1.98 miles||1:09.741|
|7-9||7-8 May||Thruxton||11||2.36 miles||1:17.303|
|10-12||4-5 June||Oulton Park||12||2.23 miles||1:26.404|
|13-15||18-19 June||Croft||9+||2.13 miles||1:24.542|
|16-18||30-31 July||Snetterton||12||2.97 miles||1:56.921|
|19-21||13-14 August||Knockhill||8||1.27 miles||52.094|
|22-24||27-28 August||Rockingham||11||1.94 miles||1:23.193|
|25-27||17-18 September||Silverstone||6||1.64 miles||58.464|
|28-30||1-2 October||Brands Hatch GP||11||2.43 miles||1:31.387|
Where can I watch the BTCC?
Of course the best way to experience the spectacle of the BTCC is by supporting it in person at each venue. Tickets can be purchased by following this link to the official calendar, selecting a venue, and then clicking the ‘Tickets’ tab.
Alternatively, the ITV network will be providing around eight hours of live and free-to-air broadcasting from each of the championship’s ten events. These will be shown on ITV4 and ITV4 HD channels as well as free live-streaming via ITV’s dedicated BTCC website. Adding to the live coverage are 60-minute highlights programmes repeated three times after each event on both ITV and ITV4 and available for 28 days afterwards on ITV Player.
Did you know?
- The BTCC was the first motorsport series in the world to introduce regulations that monitored and limited the CO2 emissions of its competing cars.
- In partnership with tyre sponsor Dunlop, the BTCC was the world’s first race series to embed radio frequency identification microchips in the tyres to monitor their use, from within the championship to their eventual recycling.
- In the early Nineties, the BTCC was the first race series to mandate the use of catalytic converters and unleaded petrol in all competing cars.
- In a UK first, BTCC organisers introduced mandatory breath testing on each day at each event to ensure that all drivers and senior championship officials have no alcohol in their system.
- Avensis driver Rob Austin is also well-known for his appearance in the Ron Howard movie Rush, in which he played the part of former Formula 1 racer Brett Lunger.
Learn more: How different is the Toyota Avensis race car from its road car equivalent?
Read more: Review of the Toyota Avensis
Read more: BTCC Avensis updates classic Toyota advert