The FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), which comes to Brands Hatch next weekend on July 26/27, contains some of the closest and most spectacular racing on the planet, and a lot of this is to do with the championship’s success ballast system.
Many forms of motorsport can see the championship leader run away with the title, but this will never happen on the FIA WTCC as the performance of the cars are always equalised. This means that driving talent, rather than resources, dictates the outcome of the season.
Under the success ballast system, a driver will carry an extra kilogram of ballast for every championship point scored. On top of this, there is also extra ballast carried according to the sum of points obtained during the two races of each event. The maximum amount of ballast that will be carried at any one time is capped at 70 kilograms: or the equivalent of having a passenger in the car.
For finishing first in a race, the success handicap is set at 30 kilograms. Second is set at 25 kilograms, while third will ‘earn’ a driver 20 kilograms, all the way down to just five kilograms of ballast for sixth place. These totals are scrapped and recalculated after each event.
At the last round in Estoril, SEAT driver Gabriele Tarquini became the first driver to receive the maximum 70 kilograms of success ballast. But after failing to score in Portugal, the championship leader will go down to 58 kilograms, leaving his team mate Yvan Muller with the dubious honour of carrying the maximum ballast at Brands Hatch this weekend.
Of the British drivers – for whom Brands Hatch is the most important race of the year – Andy Priaulx (BMW) will carry 53 kilograms and Robert Huff (Chevrolet) will have 46 kilograms, while James Thompson’s Honda does not have to carry any ballast at all.
Tickets are 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. 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 to watch some of the world’s closest racing close at noon on Wednesday 23 July. For more information and race results to date please visit fiawtcc.com.In 2007 the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) saw Andy Priaulx retain his World Champion title for the third year in a row despite close contention from drivers such as Yvan Muller and James Thompson, taking the title fight to the very last round in Macau.The 2006 WTCC saw 11 winners in 20 races, proving the championship’s reputation as a closely-fought battle, with Britain’s Andy Priaulx claiming the drivers title.The first WTCC Champion was Andy Priaulx. Priaulx’s title was decided in the final round with Dirk Müller taking second, and Italy’s Fabrizio Giovanardi finishing third in the Championship.
The FIA WTCC evolved from the European Touring Car Championship, which it replaced in 2005. The WTCC is one of only three championships granted full FIA World Championship status alongside Formula One and World Rally.