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An Audience with Alan Gow

ETCC cars for BTCC in 2004It has taken Alan Gow very little time to make an impact on the championship after re-taking the helm just under two weeks ago. The weekend at Silverstone provided the ideal opportunity to unveil what he describes as the first of many initiatives designed to take the BTCC forwards. After announcing that the BTCC will accommodate cars from the FIA ETCC as early as next year, Gow offered an insight in to thinking behind the move; “It’s the most sensible decision to make to move forwards. We’ve got two types of cars racing here and in Europe, and both are not that dissimilar. It’s a good opportunity for the championship to open up to new manufacturers.”

“I’ve spoken to a lot of non-BTCC manufacturers in the past weeks and there’s a better than real hope that these manufacturers will come in to the championship as early as next year. I wouldn’t have done this if I wasn’t confident of attracting new manufacturers.”

Explaining how the system will work, he continued; “We are not changing the BTCC technical regulations. Any performance differential is easily dealt with through the sporting regulations – with weight for example. You’ve got to remember that years ago we used to have front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive – now that was a real juggling act! So to have parity between just the two different types is a fairly simple thing to do. We have the ability in the sporting regulations to adjust the weights four or fives times a year. On top of that there is the success ballast, which provides some adjustment of weight anyway. It’s not that difficult a thing to achieve, given that the performance of the cars isn’t that different.”

Gow hopes that the move will also help increase the number of independent runners in the BTCC: “I think it’s already easy for Independents to enter the BTCC. The cost of buying and running ETCC cars is likely to be pretty similar. It’s up to the teams now whether they buy a BTCC car or an ETCC car – at least they have a choice now. It’s something that they can sell to their sponsors and everything else. It opens up opportunities that didn’t exist before. The beauty of it is, the investment in the championship of the current teams & manufacturers remains – nothing alters on the cars they’ve got. So it’s not having any adverse effect – it’s having a positive effect.”

“I didn’t have one negative response from the current teams. I went around the table and no one said no. Why would they? It’s only good for the growth & the development of the championship. People like Vauxhall, for example, have welcomed it with open arms. Wouldn’t they like to be racing against BMW, Alfa Romeo and the rest, as well as what we’ve got here!”

With the prospect of more manufacturers and fuller grids in 2004, where does this leave the Production class?

“The Production class cars are very easily converted to ETCC cars, and I don’t think a lot of people appreciate that. It’s somewhat different and more difficult to convert them to BTCC cars. SO there’s an opportunity for them to step up anyway. But hopefully the BTCC should be competed as a one-class structure, without having two or three different classes racing.”

“If there’s enough competitors to take the Production class to a standalone series, then that could happen.”

Having only been back as Championship Administrator for a short period of time, Gow has not hesitated to put his stamp on the BTCC. He commented, “I like to get things done. I started last Thursday and from the day I started I made some moves towards this. I had a meeting with the teams last Tuesday, which was very productive, and it was agreed to meet again this morning to confirm it, which we did. What’s the point in delaying an announcement when we’ve made a decision? It’s all very positive for the championship. We’ve got some very positive announcements about the championship going forward coming out in the next few weeks as well.”

In an economic climate which has seen many manufacturers re-assess their motorsport activities, many feel that Gow’s task of tempting new marques to the BTCC is an unenviable one. His priorities however, could not be clearer; “It’s driven by the product we deliver to the spectators. More cars, more variety, better racing – that’s what it’s about.”

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