FIA World Touring Car Cup weekends will feature a new look in 2020 after the introduction of a number of cost-cutting measures – initially planned for 2021 – will be brought forward in response to current market conditions.
Subject to FIA World Motor Sport Council approval when it meets in Geneva on 6 March, the implementation of these changes will be done to ensure the series remains competitive, provides high-quality wheel-to-wheel action, and continued to attract new drivers and teams.
Costs must be sustainable
Since Eurosport Events and WSC joined forces to launch WTCR in conjunction with the FIA in 2018, the series has enjoyed huge success and rapid expansion. However, the desire to succeed on track has resulted in a budget rise that’s becoming challenging to sustain, while moving WTCR away from the TCR category’s ethos as a customer racing activity.
Working in unison with the FIA Touring Car Commission, the teams and other stakeholders, taking into account the need to keep the costs at a manageable level and recognising the impact the coronavirus outbreak is having on the global economy, a number of steps have been taken.
One shot at pole
From 2020 drivers will now get one chance to fight for the DHL Pole Position with a single qualifying session, albeit using the existing three-phase shootout format, instead of the current two sessions. It means there will simply be no margin for error as the WTCR stars push to the maximum to reach the top of the TAG Heuer timing screens.
Two’s the magic number
There will be even more focus on the races following a move to a two-races-per-weekend format, used so successfully by the FIA World Touring Car Championship in the past. With the exception of WTCR Race of Germany, where the 25.378-kilometre Nürburgring Nordschelife allows for three-lap races only, the Race 2 action will last for around three laps longer than Race 1. The Race 1 grid will be partially reversed with the Race 2 grid decided by the combined qualifying order.
Drivers will be busy
Unless a three-day schedule is specifically required, all WTCR weekends will take place over two days with two free practice sessions providing fans with their first glimpse of some of the world’s best touring car drivers on track.
Fan engagement remains key
Fans visiting WTCR events will get more opportunities to meet their heroes and get up close to the cars. With all racing moved to the second day of the weekend, it will be possible to arrange extra fan sessions with more information due soon.
Reduced costs, increased accessibility
Following on from restrictions to staff numbers introduced for the 2019 season, further reductions have been agreed. Two-car teams will be restricted to 12 personnel and three-car teams limited to 18 personnel. However, only 10 personnel per team will be assigned the armbands that permit them to work on a car.
There will be a tweak to the tyre regulations as well with 18 new Goodyear tyres allowed per car for the first event and 12 new tyres allowed thereafter. This falls from an allowance of 22 and 18 respectively. Both steps are designed to reduce costs and make WTCR racing more affordable for even more teams.
Changes a must, not a nice to have
“We have acted decisively and responsibly to protect WTCR, keep it strong for all the stakeholders, maintain its appeal among fans and media and ensure it remains attractive and accessible for new privateer teams wanting to race at the highest possible level of TCR,” said François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the WTCR promoter.
“Unsustainable budgets and acknowledging the impact the coronavirus outbreak is having on the global economy has accelerated the introduction of a number of cost reduction measures and format changes developed together with the FIA and team representatives. But these changes are a must, not a nice to have and we must keep moving forward in a responsible fashion.
“However, Eurosport Events, in its role as the WTCR promoter, will not reduce the broadcast output or the marketing effort in order to protect the product that we deliver to the fans and the value and exposure we bring to the teams and sponsors involved.”
Images and article text via FIA WTCR Media
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