Fans, teams and media alike were given their first glimpse of the Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) prototype when the Toyota Avensis based car ran in practice for the BTCC on Saturday before running a number of demonstration laps on Sunday.
The car – driven by former series champion James Thompson and built by GPR Motorsport – ran impressively during the free practices sessions around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, Thompson's best time within a second of the pace of Jason Plato – the man who would end the weekend as champion. The pace despite the new car being very early in its testing and development
“At the moment we are at point A with the car, working our way through to point Z,” explains Thompson, the official development driver for the project. “Full credit to TOCA – it's the right concept and will be a great car. Mechanically, the car has run perfectly enabling us to get through the list of work we need to do with adjustments, set-up and feedback. There has been a huge amount of very positive factors to come out of the three days we've run it on so far.”
“The NGTC regulations will mean a car that's more spectacular for about half the cost. If a team is looking at coming into the BTCC then now is the time to do it as it's an opportunity to get a head's start with a car that is only going to keep on developing. It is surely going to lead to more teams and more drivers on the grid.”
“It's not too radical, but everything on the car is just that little bit bigger and better – it looks more dramatic and spectacular, just like a touring car should be!”
While the prototype is based on Toyota's Avensis model teams will be free to choose which make and model to base their own entries around. Cars under the new regulations will be eligible for the championship from next year when they run alongside the current S2000 spec machinery.
“It'll allow a lot of the teams that haven't been able to get into this championship to get into this championship and that's very important,” said series director Alan Gow, speaking to TCF after the weekend's action. “The cost has come down, the amount of engineering they have to undertake has come down because a lot of is done for them.”
“The feedback from current and potential teams, media and the public has been absolutely fantastic,” Gow is quoted on the series' official website. “The car has a real 'wow-factor'â€¦.it's a real win-win situation.”
Do you, BTCC fans, agree? We want to know