Throughout the first half of the British Touring Car season Alan Gow, the man at the head of the championship organisers, has found himself never far from the on track action.
The first five meetings, that's 15 races, have produced five different winners and the exact amount of controversy you expect from Britain's premier series, with on track clashes and the on-going battle to level the constantly undulating battlefield between the different specifications of cars on the grid.
With the season ready to resume racing after a seven week break Gow was able to give his opinions on the season far, and a little of what is to come.
“Whenever there are technical differences in cars then there are always some 'balancing acts' to perform,” Gow said, tackling the issue of balancing the different cars' performances. “And I can't think of any year since I started managing the championship in 1992 when there hasn't been some specification differences in some cars that required 'tweaking' – so nothing at all has changed in that respect.”
“It is something we constantly keep an eye on and make changes when/if necessary. Sifting through raw technical data is one thing, but obviously we also have to take into consideration other factors such as race results, weather, mechanical issues, circuit configuration and suchlike.”
Even before the regulation changes to balance the relative performances in 2011 the order was shaken up by a number of new engine and car combinations, Airwaves Racing returning to the front in their first year with turbocharged Ford Focuses, Andy Jordan becoming a regular front runner in his Vectra while the S2000 Chevrolets of Silverline Chevrolet and Tech–Speed struggled in the new world order.
“This year has seen a lot of teams and cars with newly developed – and developing – engines/packages,” explained Gow, “so it stands to reason that the teams with the best resources will have the best developed 'package' and be at the top in the first half of the season. But as the others continue to refine/develop their cars then we will likely see a few new race-winners as the season progresses. Having said that, five different race winners in the first half of a season isn't exactly a 'one-horse race' is it?”
The five winners so far this year – Jason Plato, Matt Neal, Mat Jackson, Gordon Shedden and Andy Jordan – represent four different makes of car and (thanks to Plato) two different specifications of car.
However, this year has also seen the introduction onto the grid of one of Gow's favoured projects for the future of the series with three full NGTC spec cars on the grid. Despite testing over the winter courtesy of former champion James Thompson all three cars have initially struggled for race pace and reliability, but Gow said such a beginning for the Next Generation machinery was to be expected.
He explained: “Many 'armchair enthusiasts' totally underestimate what is required to develop a whole new type of front-running car in one of the toughest touring car championships in the world. If it were that easy then everyone would be doing it.”
“Those cars are at the very start of their development programme – they had virtually zero testing before their very first event. I have nothing but complete admiration for those teams who decided to jump-in feet first with that programme – particularly as they are all first-time BTCC teams/drivers and don't possess the same resources that established front-running BTCC teams have.”
“In the last couple of events,” he added, “we have seen glimpses of what they are capable of doing and no doubt they will make much more progress as they continue to develop and learn the cars. The NGTC cars are the future of the BTCC and those teams developing theirs now will be in the box-seat for the future.”
Racing resumes this weekend, with the BTCC's first visit to the Snetterton 300 layout, a venue Gow admitted “could be terrific for our type of racing”. The season then continues through Knockhill, Rockingham, a second visit to Brands Hatch before ending in October at Silverstone.
The finale will use the traditional National Circuit, based out of the 'old' paddock at the British Grand Prix venue, the new Wing complex unable to accommodate the BTCC and the support series that share the weekend, and Gow recognises the logistical issues that using both paddocks for the weekend would present.
As for the biggest question – who does the man charge think will be celebrating a title a Silverstone.
He is predictably tight-lipped.
“I have absolutely no idea – although as much as I would like to think it could happen, it probably won't be John Georgeâ€¦”