Car Blog

BTCC: Is the reduced grid size a good thing?

I’m a huge motorsport fan and have been for a long time, particular of British national series including the British GT Championship and the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). The latter has come under some scrutiny recently due to dwindling grid sizes from around 30 cars each season pre-Covid, to 20 cars for the 2024 season. Question is, is the reduced grid a good thing?

I’m currently on the fence, but more due to the increasing size of some teams. Four car teams seem to be the norm, with the four biggest teams contributing 15 of those cars, all with big budgets and manufacturer backing. Excelr8 Hyundai have 4 cars, as do NAPA UK/Alliance Racing. Team BMW operate 3 (including satellite team MB Motorsport), and including the satellite LKQ Eurocarparts team, Speedworks Toyota also run four. The remaining 5 are independent entries; Power Maxed Racing (2), new entry Restart Racing (2), and Unlimited Motorsport (1).

For simplicity, I’m going to ignore the TBL regime for the article, but will note that man in charge of the BTCC, Alan Gow, has wanted the grid size to naturally reduce. He’s probably right. Practical issues, such as some smaller tracks having a limited number of garages, does mean that a 20 car grid is more manageable.

Recent years have seen certain drivers continuously end up at the back of the grid, despite there being no particularly underperforming cars on the grid. I wouldn’t say there are any drivers on the grid this year that are there simply to ‘make up the numbers’. Based on what I saw of the first of this years races at Donnington Park Sunday just gone, for the first time in a number of years I’ve been of the opinion that all the drivers on the grid have the potential to win races.

My concern currently is with the dominance of the big teams. Resources have pooled towards a small handful of big outfits. As much as it’s nice to see some more manufacturer backing, the lack of independent teams seems to be reducing opportunities for drivers with limited budgets, as well as new and upcoming talent. So far, only one new driver, Scott Sumpton has joined to grid with the Restart Racing, both joining from the TCR UK series. Chris Smiley has re-joined the BTCC series, also with Restart Racing, as has Rob Huff. All other drivers were on the BTCC grid last season, with many highly talented drivers including Dan Lloyd and Booby Thompson absent.

Wrapping up, time will tell how well the reduced grid size benefits the sport in the long run. However, I am reassured that the BTCC is still highly competitive, and brilliant for spectators. Fingers crossed that continues.