Friday, July 07, 2006

The WTCC - more fun than you think

Although I frequently claim to be a fan of touring cars, when it comes down to it I often lack the follow-through. It is definitely true that I think V8 Supercar racing is the business and that the DTM is great fun (provided the commentary is not from Milt Fitzwater, a man so boring he turned me off the series for two seasons on Speed TV). But honestly, V8 supercars are no more touring cars than NASCAR "stock" cars. DTM entries, like the Japanese SuperGT machines, are essentially built to "silhouette" rules - what's under the skin bears absolutely NO resemblance to their road-going cousins. They all use the same tranny and all have V8 engines regardless of whether the road car does or not. Hell, Audi refused to take part for the longest time because they were required to run rear-wheel-drive. When was the last time you heard of a RWD Audi?

The bottom line is that there are really only three true touring car championships in top flight motorsport: the British Touring Car Championship, the World Touring Car Championship and the Speed World Challenge Touring Class. Today I watched the WTCC - not the latest round from Brazil, but the previous one from Germany. Why so late? Well, I tend not to be motivated to watch any of the "smaller" touring car series. But when I actually do get around to it, guess what? That is some DAMN GREAT RACING! Door-banging, love-tapping, wheel-spinning action from start to finish. By the end of race two, the top six guys in the championship were separated by just three points!!! You don't usually see the cynical nudges that send a car around like in V8s, and these cars look a bloody handful to drive, unlike the uber-downforce, stuck-to-the-track stance of DTM. It helps that the coverage I get is from Eurosport, which has better picture quality than MotorsTV. An extra bonus is that it has Martin Haven and David Leslie commentating, one of the best TV racing commentary teams in the business (second only to Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish on the BBC coverage of MotoGP I reckon).

I still have the last round of the BTCC to watch, along with the Brazil round of the WTCC and, returning my attention to sportscars, the German FIA GT race. Now if only the World Cup and Tour de France would hurry up and finish I might get some time to watch racing...

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