The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship offered a glimpse into the future this past week at Snetterton as the Cosworth-developed Toyota Corolla TOCA Hybrid car broke cover and hit the track for the first time.
Built and run by front-running team Speedworks Motorsport, the front-wheel-drive machine kicked off an extensive testing and development programme before the full introduction of hybrid technology comes in 2022.
Joining the 26-car grid that will battle for the UK’s premier motorsport crown on-track at the Norfolk venue, former BTCC race winner Darren Turner clocked valuable mileage across both days in mixed weather conditions.
The BTCC’s Hybrid System will be used by each driver for either passing or defending and will introduce new competitive strategies and opportunities during each race.
Performance simulations carried out by Cosworth Electronics show that the most significant gains will be achieved at the low engine RPM ranges; the hybrid power burst bringing the engine up into the turbo ‘window’ more quickly.
Drivers will have a steering wheel mounted button to engage the hybrid once full traction has been achieved whilst the system will deactivates on a second button press, the use of brakes, on reaching the time or energy limit, a reduced throttle pressure or sudden acceleration/deceleration.
Following the first foray for the TOCA Hybrid car, Turner said: “It is a great initiative and I am delighted to be a part of it. I fully aware it’s an historic moment for the series and we are all delighted to have completed an extremely successful test.
“The BTCC is the biggest and best championship in the UK and it’s right that it should be leading the way in this technology. The BTCC is leading from the front yet again, and this will be a great addition to the racing. We have regularly deployed the system on-track and it works really well – it will undoubtedly add an extra and exciting dimension to both the defensive and attacking aspects of the racing.
“We will of course be developing the system and integration further and further – this is just the beginning of the car’s track life – and we’ll be getting more and more miles in the car over the coming months.
“The project is going extremely well, it is on schedule and there is no need to rush things – every bit of information is vital at this point to ensure we have a robust system that enhances what the BTCC is all about, and I’m absolutely convinced we will achieve that.
Alan Gow, BTCC Chief Executive, added: “It’s an extremely proud moment for everyone involved in the BTCC and the TOCA Hybrid project itself. The BTCC was the first major touring car series to confirm its intentions and pathway for introducing hybrid technology and this is clearly another hugely significant milestone as part of that.
“This is obviously just the start of the extensive programme ahead, prior to the full introduction of hybrid technology into the BTCC in 2022, but Cosworth, Speedworks and all of the technical partners involved should be congratulated for the professionalism, expertise and efficiency shown.
“Despite these challenging times the BTCC and its partners have worked extremely hard to ensure that the TOCA Hybrid car made its track debut as originally planned and it has been an extremely positive and successful test.”