Somebody was criminally negligent enough the other week to let me have a go in a touring car, which you can watch here. As you might expect, it was just about the best working day of my life to date, but what surprised me most was how easy the BTCC Vectra was to drive fast.
On a spot of reflection, I'm beginning to wonder if this is because of the FIA's Super 2000 Regulations. These seemed eminently sensible to me: a set of loose regs dictating what you can and can't do to a road car to make it go racing, or rallying.
I remember reading a feature a few years ago where a journalist was allowed to drive a Renault Laguna touring car. Don't let it rev below 3000rpm or it'll break, he was told. Don't do this, don't touch that, be careful of the other. Because it'll break.
None of that wtih the Vectra, which starts on a key and, with no throttle, settles to an idle. Okay, it's grumbly, but by racing standards, is very tractable. The engine's location and most of the components within it are regulated; the injection system has to be the one from the road car. Besides, there's an 8500rpm rev limit - a Honda S2000's is higher - so there's just no point - almost no way - of developing a massively peaky engine. The suspension has to derive from the road car's, too.