The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (or just the BTCC for short) is one of the longest running motorsport series' in the world, with only Formula One and NASCAR claiming to have a longer history. The sport has won general acclaim among motorsport fans for its combination of simple, club-style racing with the performance and spectacle that access to big-budgets provide.
It was first inaugurated in 1958 as the British Saloon Car Championship, and has run every year since with a variety of technical specifications, grid sizes and support series'. The current specifications, titled Next-Generation Touring Car, feature touring cars directly sourced from their road-going variants (with a minimum length of 4.4 meters) fitted with 350+bhp 2-litre turbo-charged engines, plus a range of common components that keep costs down and ensure a more equal playing field. Race weekends feature a qualifying session followed by three races (generally around 30 minutes in length), with the third race of each weekend featuring a reverse grid drawn for drivers between 6th and 12th place. Teams must also consider option tyre nominations, in which they must decide before the races commence which race of the day they want to use a non-standard tyre compound on. A typical season lasts 30 races across 10 events, with each event taking place at a different circuit.
Currently, the series airs live on ITV4 in the United Kingdom, with highlight shows airing in a range of other countries. The series is joined by a range of high-profile support categories, which currently include the Ginetta Junior Championship, Ginetta GT4 Supercup, F4 British Championship, Porsche Carrera Cup GB and Mini Challenge UK.
Last season's winners:Drivers Champion: Ash Sutton (Laser Tools Racing)
Constructors Champion: BMW
Teams Champion: Team BMW
Independent Drivers Champion: Ash Sutton (Laser Tools Racing)
Independent Teams Champion: Laser Tools Racing
Jack Sears Trophy:note Michael Crees (The Clever Baggers with BTC Racing)
Goodyear Wingfoot Award:note Colin Turkington (Team BMW)
List of Tropes:
- Battle in the Rain:
- Wet races do happen, and cars are able to switch to wet tyres independent of the usual option tyre system. This adds a bit of guesswork when it threatens to rain, as the slower speeds of pit stops compared to the likes of Formula One means that teams generally must commit to their tyre choice, and accept the consequences of choosing an unsuitable tyre.
- The 2020 finale took place on a very wet day, which is partially credited with giving eventual champion Ash Sutton the edge.
- Book-Ends: It is common for the series to hold its first and last race events at the same circuit, usually under different layouts. Using the National and Grand Prix layouts of Silverstone for this purpose was a favourite in years past, but today the Indy and Grand Prix layouts of Brands Hatch are often used in the same manner.
- Camera Abuse: Hunter Abbott's infamous 2016 Snetterton crash, in which a tiny bump at the worst possible angle sent him tumbling into a camera tower.
- Close-Range Combatant: The series has a reputation for being one of the rougher big-budget motorsports out there. Expect at least one bumper-to-bumper fight per race.
- Comeback Mechanic: Somewhat unusual among motorsport series' in that it embraces a number of these:
- The biggest one is the ballast system. The top 10 drivers in the previous race will be saddled with extra weight, starting at 60kg for the winner and going down to 6kg for the person in 10th.
- The third round at each event also features the Reverse Grid. A Special Guest is brought on camera to draw a random number between 6 and 12, representing cars that had achieved 6th through 12th place in the previous race. The car corresponding to the number chosen is brought to the front, while everybody who was above him is reversed (so if 9th place is picked, 8th place becomes 2nd, 7th place becomes 3rd, and so on). This gives a chance for drivers in the middle of the pack to compete for higher positions or a race win.
- Cosmetic Award: One of the prizes for winning the drivers championship is the exclusive right to have #1 as your car number for the next season.
- Down to the Last Play: It is common for the drivers championship to go to the last event, or even the last round.
- 2019 was decided on the second-to-last lap of the final race, when a sudden brake failure in Dan Cammish's car sent him into the gravel, handing Colin Turkington the win by just two points.
- Early-Bird Cameo: A few drivers in the BTCC make their debut in a support category before moving up to the main stage. Dan Cammish, who made his debut in 2018 and was a frontrunner during 2019, was previously a two-time Porsche Carrera Cup champion.
- Licensed Game: The 1997 season was the basis for TOCA Touring Car Championship, and many games since have featured BTCC vehicles among their lineups, including Forza Motorsport. A new game dedicated to the BTCC has been announced to be in development by Motorsport Games (developers of the NASCAR Heat series) for 2022.
- Milestone Celebration: 2018, its 60th anniversary, featured a special 'Diamond Double' race at Snetterton, which was double the length of a usual race but awarded double points for its winners.
- Obvious Rule Patch: The NGTC specifications disallow cars that were never sold in the UK. This was essentially to prevent people from repeating the great success that the Japan-only Honda Integra Type R had during the Super 2000-era.
- Technician vs. Performer: The 2018 finale was pitched as this, being a battle between 'Mr. Consistency' Colin Turkington (a manufacturer-backed driver who up until the finale had placed outside the top 10 just five times but earned only one outright win) and 'Comeback King' Tom Ingram (an independent driver who had three first-place finishes, but double the number of sub-10 placements compared to Turkington). In this case, the technician Colin Turkington won in the end, as even though Ingram had a far better day, Turkington's more consistent record gave him enough of a points buffer to survive.