The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), which makes its annual pilgrimage to Brands Hatch in just under a couple of month’s time, contains some of the closest racing that the world has to offer – with competitors exchanging tenths of a second as well as plenty of door paint as they jostle for position.
Whereas other championships, such as Formula 1, have evolved into a technological arms race, the FIA WTCC is based on a strict equivalency formula – which means that competitors are hit with success ballast if they become too quick. This ensures that nobody is able to dominate just because they have the better equipment. The cars are also closely based on the models that you can buy in the showroom, but with 300 horsepower to give their drivers a taste of life on the edge.
The FIA WTCC technical regulations are carefully written to keep the competition close and the cost of participation down, which ensures a varied and high-quality field at every race. With the cars so similar, only the driver can make a difference.
As talented Brazilian Augusto Farfus, the winner of race one in the most recent round at Pau, explains: “You have to push all the time. You have to drive on the limit from beginning to end, and it's always a very close race. It's nearly impossible to win a race with a big gap. We always fight from the first lap to the last lap. There’s no time to think about strategy: you just go.”
This is racing in its purest, most undiluted form. But all eyes will be on Farfus’s BMW team mate at Brands Hatch – Britain’s three-time FIA WTCC champion Andy Priaulx – as he bids to repeat his win of last year on the Kent circuit and put himself on track for a historic fourth straight title.
Tickets for the race are already on sale via the Brands Hatch website with adult admission on Sunday 27 July costing £30 at the gate, but only £24 if you book online at motorsportvision.co.uk. An online weekend ticket costs £34 while children aged 12 and under go free – so it pays to book in advance. Grandstand seating starts at £5 and the Raceday Pit Walkabout, which opens at 09:00 on Sunday, costs £12. Advance booking is available online and from the Ticket Hotline on 0870 950 9000. Advance ticket purchases close at noon on Wednesday 23 July.