The World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) has unveiled major reform plans including the addition of a second class for 2017, while the motor racing series’ calendar has been revamped for next season with the addition of races in historic motorsport venues Macau and Monza.
The launch of WTCC-2 is part of a rules revamp approved by the International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) World Motor Sport Council designed to further increase the championship’s appeal and spectacle.
Catering for cars built to the world governing body’s TCN2 technical regulations, WTCC-2 will aim to provide an accessible starting point for drivers and teams aiming to reach touring car racing’s top echelon. WTCC-2 will be administered by the same team behind the WTCC from the FIA and promoter Eurosport Events.
Russian automotive marque Lada last month confirmed it would exit the WTCC at the end of the 2016 season, reducing the series to factory backing from just two manufacturers. Lada joins French manufacturer Citroen in ending its WTCC commitment this year, with just Honda and Volvo remaining heading into the 2017 season.
Among other changes approved by the FIA, WTCC events will also be reduced from three to two days in an effort to cut costs. François Ribeiro, head of Eurosport Events, said: “In the current economic climate we recognise the challenges being faced by drivers and teams to secure the finances required to race a TC1 World Touring Car.
“While the WTCC will clearly remain the pinnacle of touring car racing, WTCC-2 will provide a good platform for aspiring World Touring Car champions of the future to showcase their talents on a global stage, compete for an FIA title, but at a reduced cost by limiting WTCC-2 to TCN2-specification cars, which are more affordable to prepare and maintain. WTCC-2 competitors will benefit from the high event organisation standards, global media exposure and promotional activities in common with the WTCC.”
Meanwhile, the 2017 calendar has been reduced from 11 to 10 events, although the WTCC will return to Macau and Monza, Italy. Monza hosted the inaugural WTCC event in 1987. To mark the 40-year anniversary, the WTCC will return to the venue of Formula One’s Italian Grand Prix having last visited in 2013. It will stage the second round of the season from April 28-30.
Macau was the setting of the traditional WTCC season closer from 2005 to 2014 and will stage the penultimate round of the 2017 season from November 17-19. WTCC Race of Macau will be part of a weekend of international FIA events and championships, including the Macau Grand Prix, which awards the Formula 3 World Cup to the winner.
The WTCC won’t visit Slovakia Ring or France’s Circuit Paul Ricard in 2017. The WTCC’s four-year stint at the Moscow Raceway in Russia also comes to an end. The 2017 season will commence with the Race of Morocco in Marrakech on April 7-9, running through to the Race of Qatar at Losail International Circuit on November 30 to December 1.