After the news that the Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship has been axed for 2012, the question has been raised as to what will happen to its space on the British Touring Car Championship support package. The Checkered Flag has weighed up some of the options.
1. Replace it with another full-time package.
The natural thing to do would be to replace the series with another championship full time, keeping the current quota of 5 championships in support of the BTCC. There are many other single-seater championships that would relish the opportunity to replace FRUK and enjoy the limelight on the BTCC bill, with the large trackside attendances and live TV coverage that comes with it.
Leading those would be the natural successor to the TOCA Formula Renault series, its younger sibling, the club-level Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship. The BARC series has grown in the last few years into a really competitive series, with a strong mix of young rookies and experienced racers.
The series joined the BTCC bill for the final weekend at Silverstone last year and was a huge success, plus with 18 cars already announced for 2012, the series would provide a large grid and lots of action.
Other single-seater championship’s that could fill the void would be Intersteps and Formula Ford. The Dunlop Intersteps Championship has grown in recent years to become a popular entry-level series for young drivers and with decent sized grids, it would provide some exciting racing for the fans.
The Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain is entering an exciting new era in 2012 with the new Ecoboost cars and is sure to once again provide large grids this campaign. It has featured on the BTCC package before, as recently as 2010 when it made a guest appearance at Donington Park, and it would be a popular addition for fans.
The replacement series wouldn't have to be single-seater based though and could come from Sportscars or Tin-Tops. With the huge success Ginetta has had over the last few years with its Junior and Supercup series', their third championship, the Total Quartz Ginetta GT5 Challenge could join the fray.
Another option could be the Volkswagen Racing Cup, which has produced some talented tin-top racers over recent years and with a spot on the BTCC package could become an established feeder series like the Clio Cup.
2. Replace it with different guest championship's at each meeting.
The problem with replacing Formula Renault UK with another series full time is that many championships, including all those mentioned above, have already confirmed their 2012 calendars and are either supporting other championship's or are headlining their own weekends, while some have their own TV coverage already arranged. This means it’s unknown whether they’d be able to move, or even be interested in joining it.
This leads to the idea of allowing different championships to make guest appearances on the bill at each weekend. As well as providing variety for the spectators, it would be a much welcomed boost for many club level, national or local championships who would relish the exposure.
It's already been a success over the years at Knockhill, where in 2011 for example their national Classics and Mini championships joined the bill, whilst in the past we've regularly seen the Historic Touring Car Championship in action on BTCC weekends.
3. Don't replace it.
The third option would be not the replace the series at all. This would allow breathing space in the usually busy weekend timetables, reducing the chances of hitting circuit curfews at the end of day's due to stoppages.
This would obviously reduce the entertainment for the fans though, with one of the main draws to the BTCC meetings being their full weekends of action, with barely any stoppages in the day. The removal of a championship and its qualifying sessions and races would lead to later starts to the days, earlier finishes or big gaps during the day, which wouldn't be ideal for fans.
It's unclear what the future is then, with no announcement yet for the organisers of the BTCC with what the plan is for the support package, but with less than two weeks to go until the season opener at Brands Hatch on 31st March/1st April, something needs to be sorted quickly.
Let us here at The Checkered Flag know what you'd like to see happen to the place Formula Renault has vacated on the BTCC bill. Pop us a comment below or tweet us @thecheckerflag.