What makes the BTCC so much better than Formula 1? Is it the fact that cars can race wheel to wheel without being forced back into the pits after some scuffed paintwork? Or is that the BTCC seems so much more accessible to everyman? After all, the Jason Platos and Rob Collards of this world seem like normal blokes, not demi-gods like Herr Schumacher or His Hamiltoness.
Money plays a big role, too, most notably with the BTCC’s introduction of the Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) in 2011, which slashed design, build and running costs of the stripped-out saloons and hot hatchbacks. Equally measured BTCC cars rely on driver skill and fearlessness, not DRS and trick KERS systems like they do in F1.
What else I prefer about the BTCC is the approachability of drivers. I spent my Sunday at Oulton Park courtesy of eBay Motors and the BMW team’s drivers – Rob Collard, Tom Onslow-Cole and Nick Foster – who were happy to chat even though they didn’t know me from Adam. I can’t imagine the same friendliness coming from Alonso and Massa on race day, but then again I might be wrong.
It’s the physical dog-fights that spectators (especially us Brits) look forward to as well. They’ll usually involve bumper nudging, rear ending and T-boning on occasion, which is great to watch, both at the track or from the comfort of your sofa.
For me, the BTCC wins for viewer enjoyment over F1 any day of the week. My only criticism? Races could do with being a few laps longer. And how about reducing the three-race day down to two? I don’t know about you, but when race two is over, I tend to get itchy feet having to wait another two hours until the finale. But then again, watching the Clios, Ginettas and Porsches fighting it out in the interim is very entertaining, too.
Naturally, I’d love to get behind the wheel of a BTCC car and now, thanks to a new bursary programme funded by Plato’s team, KX Energy Drink, it is possible. It supports six candidates per year (five now, hopefully including me) and includes being mentored by the man himself. Maybe F1’s Red Bull team could follow suit?