Tell Me About: Touring and Production

The V8 powered Chevrolet CR8 is an example of a Production car.

First of all, lets be singing from the same hymn sheet. A couple of definitions for you:

 

A touring car is a race car which looks like a road going car but isn’t a GT racer. Chassis can be taken off a production line and turned into a race car, or they can be Silhouette race cars, where body panels are hung on a generic frame to make the cars look like a road going car. Crucially, they are never given a VIN number, just a chassis number.

 

A production car will have a VIN number, thats the long number that the DVLA use to track a car. It will have started life as a road car before making its racing debut.

 

Lets take a look at a few Touring and Production race series:

DTM

The DTM is the German touring car championship and has very little to do with normal touring cars. The cars are built like F1 cars or Prototypes and turn in lap times very close to that of a GP2 car on F1 circuits.

 

There are three manufacturers with dogs in this fight; Mercedes-Benz race the C-Klasse, BMW the M4 and Audi run with their A5 model. They get a common tub and hang body panels and lights onto the frame to make a car that looks like their road going models. They then slot in a stonking great V8 power plant and aerodynamic accoutrements that make Le Mans Prototypes look like Formula Ford cars.

 

It is a sign of the high technology and competitiveness of the DTM that several current F1 drivers have bypassed the single seater ladder and moved into Formula 1 directly from the DTM.

V8 Supercars

The Antipodean way is of course very different, and in true Australian fashion, they don’t do subtle. To build a V8 Supercar you take the large saloon car from your chosen Australian manufacturer. Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon are the main options but there are also Volvo S60 and Nissan Altima in the main game down under. Mercedes was represented in 2015 but there are no cars this year.

 

Once you have your big executive car, rip everything out, insert a big block V8 engine supplying power to the rear wheels. Bolt on a front splitter and rear wing and you are ready to go.

 

The V8 Supercars setup is also one of the few sustainable development packages out there. Once a rulebook is retired by the V8 Supercars Championship it is handed down to the Dunlop Development Series, a feeder championship which trains drivers for the main game.

 

They also have a number of different ways of going racing with races ranging from 125km to 1000km in length. For longer races, two drivers are used. The V8 Supercars Championship is the only touring car championship in the world to contain its own Endurance sub-championship.

 

The car in the photograph above is a Chevrolet CR8, the Chevrolet version of the Holden Commodore. These cars were being prepared to race in a UK V8s championship by James Tucker, the former owner of Britcar but were too heavy and too thirsty for UK circuits. The idea has been postponed.

FIA WTCC

The FIA World Touring Car Championship is a racing series which uses standard road car chassis, adds in racing suspension and safety and goes short distance racing at circuits on four continents. Current manufacturer involvement includes Citroen, Honda and Lada with privateer Chevrolet and BMW entrants.

 

The rules call for a 1.6T engine with some aerodynamic improvments to the car to assist with handling but the series is struggling.

 

To combat the problem, the FIA are planning to accept TCR spec cars.

TCR

A concept set up by a former WTCC boss, the TCR spec is designed to provide an affordable touring car soloution. Of course all things are relative! It is a rapidly growing rulebook, as shown by the fact that the FIA WTCC is planning to deputise the regulations to provide bigger grids on the World Championship package.

 

Cars start life as a production body shell to which spec aerodynamic parts are added. The engines are all 2.0T with either petrol or diesel permitted, and develop around 330bhp. The rules allow for a standard production paddleshift gearbox or a racing box, with a weight penalty for the race part. Suspension is standard, though teams can up-rate components to handle clouting the corners.

 

Ten manufacturers are represented by fourteen models in the list of currently accepted cars with more in development.

 

Another good point about the way a TCR car is engineered is that it is very easy to prepare a car for endurance racing. Several 24 Hour races now have a place in their class structure for a TCR spec entry, with the SEAT Leon Cup the most popular choice.

BTCC

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship used to march to the same beat as the FIA WTCC but when the world championship went for 1.6T engines, TOCA wrote their own 2.0T rulebook. They called it NGTC or Next Generation Touring Car.

 

The rules came with a number of common parts which include electronics, suspension components and even sub-frames. This brought a number of new manufacturers to the championship, though the cars were built by existing touring car teams, not the manufacturers themselves.

 

Because the cars are all modular it opened up more choices. Cicely Motorsport wanted to run a Mercedes Benz because they are a Mercedes Trucks dealer too, so they took the Toyota body panels from their car and strapped on a Mercedes A-Class body panels.

 

The racing is fast and furious. The cars are built strong and the drivers know it so rubbin’ is racing and the safety car is usually kept busy. While a Grand Prix will run for about an hour and a half and an endurance race can go for upto 36 hours, a touring car race can be gridded, raced and have the trophies awarded inside an hour.