British Touring Car Championship organisers TOCA have announced a number of changes to next year’s sporting regulations.
Following the annual end-of-season meeting between TOCA and all participating BTCC teams, the headline amendments include the return of the ‘Top Ten Showdown’ qualifying format, the reintroduction of the ‘Option’ tyre and changes to Hybrid deployment.
The ‘Top Ten Showdown’ – which was introduced in 2020 and expanded in 2021 – will be adopted at five of the ten events.
All drivers will take part in the normal 30-minute qualifying session to record their lap times before taking a short five-minute break. The fastest ten competitors will then progress into a ten-minute pole position session to determine the top ten positions on the grid.
Qualifying sessions at Donington Park (April 22/23), Brands Hatch Indy (May 6/7), Oulton Park (June 17/18), Knockhill (August 12/13) and Silverstone (September 23/24) will all feature the format.
The reintroduction of the Goodyear ‘Option’ tyre will take place at all events with the exception of Thruxton, where only the hard tyre will be used due to the high-speed and more abrasive nature of the track.
A majority of events will see two of the three compounds – hard, medium or soft – where the ‘Option’ tyre must be used at least once during race one, race two or race three – ensuring a variety of strategies. At Snetterton and Croft, all three tyre choices must be used across the three races.
Teams will not have to specify before qualifying or the race in which they will use their ‘Option’ tyre, with all choices being declared upon cars leaving the pit lane.
Following the successful introduction of Hybrid power into the BTCC in 2022, several enhancements have been made to ensure deployment carries a greater impact from 2023 onwards.
From next year, the top seven cars in the championship and/or top seven cars on the grid will have a reduced Hybrid time during qualifying and the races on a sliding scale, whilst the minimum speed at which the system can be deployed for those top seven has been increased.
Cars from eighth place onwards will be able to deploy Hybrid power from a reduced minimum speed, ensuring these drivers can utilise the additional power quicker than the leading order. Those cars will only have deployment for 50% of the racing laps.
Hybrid will be available to be deployed on the first lap after the safety car too, with the minimum time between deployments has been increased to five seconds, preventing drivers from staying on the power at the conclusion of one lap and heading into another.
Alan Gow, BTCC Chief Executive, said: “The changes we have made for 2023 have been done solely to keep to the core values of the championship – and that’s to make the BTCC as competitive, unpredictable, exciting and entertaining as possible.
“All year I’ve been asked by teams and drivers to bring the option tyre back for 2023, as they really enjoy the challenge it provides. So, we thank Goodyear for accommodating this and producing the three different specifications of tyres needed.
“As well, after the data-gathering and learnings from the first season using Hybrid, we identified ways in which to tweak how the Hybrid is deployed in order to better suit the competitive nature of the BTCC. Drivers throughout the field will now have to be more strategic as to when, where and how they use Hybrid.”