‘Mouthing Off’ (2) – The role of manufacturer teams in touring cars

BTCC 2016
The British Touring Car Championship has traditionally led the way when it comes to the variety of cars on the grid – this is the 2016 field at the start of the first race at Thruxton – but, when it comes to manufacturer entries, are things as clear-cut as they seem?

In stark contrast to the glitz and glamour of other forms of motorsport, there’s something decidedly more down-to-earth about touring car racing as a whole, with the familiarity of the cars themselves – which are essentially modified versions of the same ordinary hatchbacks and saloons that you or I might drive on the road – making it much easier for spectators to recognise and relate to the machinery out on the race track, and, with so many different models to pick from, it’s no surprise that many of the more high-profile championships have such variety in the amount of manufacturers represented on the grid.
However, while the number of marques might be increasing, things aren’t necessarily as clear-cut when it comes to the issue of ‘works’ teams – by which I mean teams that are officially backed by their manufacturer, who would also pay their drivers to race rather than the other way around – and the role they now play, so, for the second of my new, opinion-based ‘Mouthing Off’ series of posts, I’m going to take a look at the situation in terms of how things were not that long ago, where they are now and (potentially) where they might be heading in the future, before trying to come to some sort of conclusion as to whether or not modern-day touring car racing actually needs them…

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‘Mouthing Off’ (1) – The current state of junior single-seaters

F1 2016
There’s no disputing that Formula One is still the place to be in open-wheel racing – this is the start of the 2016 Australian Grand Prix – but what’s going on further down the system?

With their distinctive appearance and often incredible performance figures, it’s no surprise that open-wheel, single-seater racing has become one of the most recognisable and popular forms of motorsport on the planet, but, with most of the attention and coverage directed towards the very highest level of Formula One, it’s often easy to forget the vital role that the numerous feeder formulae play in providing aspiring young drivers with a platform to show their skills.
In the past, it used to be relatively straightforward to work out where a future F1 superstar might well emerge from, but now…well, the picture is more than a little muddled with the numerous different avenues on offer to the next generation, and so, for the first of my new ‘Mouthing Off’ series of posts, I’m going to take a look at the current situation from three separate angles – money, seats and career progression – before giving my opinion on what could potentially be the best way forward…

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