Andrew Jordan will return to the British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone on 25/26 September – but we ought not read too much into it: it will be only a ‘ghost’ comeback.
That’s because the 2013 champion will be driving the Toyota Corolla hybrid test car that he has pounded around British circuits this year in preparation for the technology’s big introduction to the BTCC in 2022. The point is to give the public a sneak preview of the new tech and learn more about it through a full race meeting cycle. As for Jordan, he will be under strict orders not to get mixed up in the hurly-burly and interfere with anyone’s championship campaign.
“I can’t get involved, so I will be starting from the pit lane,” he says. “I’m sure I will get a complete breakdown of what I’m allowed and not allowed to do. I will have to read the small print… It’s more to get the hybrid in front of the public. They will allow us to qualify, but I should think we will qualify near the back.”
That comment contradicts series boss Alan Gow, who predicted the Speedworks-run hybrid should be fastest, given the extra 40bhp for up to 15 seconds per lap offered by the Cosworth system in development by M-Sport, which will take over the building of the customer TOCA 2.0-litre turbo engines for next year.
Hybrid test dummy
Jordan stepped down from the BTCC during the first national lockdown last year, when the terms of his deal to race for BMW changed before the start of the delayed 2020 season. It proved a messy and expensive tangle, but it’s all behind him now as he concentrates on building up the family historic race and restoration business with his father, Mike. Still, it has been “interesting” to dive back into the BTCC world and test new technology.
“Really the driver is just a test dummy for the clever guys and girls who look after the electronics,” he says. “But it’s good work, so I can’t complain. Any day you get paid to drive a race car is good! It’s also good to go back and drive those cars, because they’re challenging in their own way, to get back into where they brake for corners. It actually feels quite late compared to what I’m used to now.”
The fine detail of how the hybrid power-boost feature will be used in the BTCC has still to be ironed out, but it’s expected that the current success ballast system will be scrapped completely in favour of balancing boost levels against race results.
“It will bring some strategy,” says Jordan. “It’s not just an overtake button: you can use it to defend, too. If they were to get rid of success ballast and just balance performance on how much boost you have, it would make a bigger impact. A good team, car and driver can handle weight better than others, but if the weight is the same and you have no hybrid boost, you can’t make good out of a bad situation as you can with ballast. Still, smarter drivers will be able to use it better over a race.”