More changes afoot in British racing

THE shake-up of British motor sport under Octagon Motorsport-led British Motorsport Promoters is set to continue in 2002 after the Office of Fair Trading cleared the US-based promoter in its investigation into the control of the domestic sport.

The British Touring Car Championship, on which Octagon is believed to have lost around $7 million this year, is to be dramatically cut back in 2002 from 13 events and 26 races to 10 events and 20 races with the night races at Silverstone and Snetterton removed and only Brands Hatch hosting more than one BTCC event.

"The move to a 10-meeting, 20-round calendar with no night races should be viewed as a consolidation of the comments we have received to date and the realization of the commercial challenges that we all face. I am confident that this represents a considerable step forward," said BTCC director Richard West.

BMP is keen to increase the attractiveness of the waning British Touring Car Championship package by moving the Porsche championship across from its current place in the Powertour, and to restore the main British Formula Ford Championship to the BTCC package, which it left this year for the Powertour bill.

Neither championship is believed to be keen on the switch, as Porsche wishes to run with the British GT championship while the Formula Ford championship is keen to remain on the same bill as Formula 3, where the flow of talent and information between the two series is believed to be a tremendous benefit.

As a compromise the BTCC and Powertour packages will combine three times in 2002 as a likely precursor to combining completely in 2003, cutting back an overcrowded calendar and playing to the strengths of the two packages. A likely line-up will see the BTCC and Renault Clio championships provide the saloon car action, Formula 3 and Formula Ford provide the single-seater element and GTs supported by Porsche Cup offering sports car entertainment.

There remain possible places on the bill for Formula Renault and TVR sports car racing, but any new series attempting to gain a place on a BMP-promoted bill in future will have to make a very strong case indeed in terms of the size of the entry, the promotional budget and position within the British sport as has been suggested by the British Motorsport Industry Association.

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