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Vauxhall BTCC news - RIP BTCC? - 2009

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Is this the end of the road (er, track) for the
 BTCC?

Vauxhall, the most successful manufacturer of the last decade, has announced
that it is to quit the touring car series at the end of the 2009 season,
leaving the BTCC without a single manufacturer team for next year.

Predictably, VX Racing is blaming the global economic downturn for its
withdrawal. “A number of factors have led us to take the decision to withdraw
from the championship at the end of this season,” said Vauxhall’s Andy Gilson.
“Vauxhall’s primary focus for next year will be bringing to market exciting new
 products.”

Last year, VX Racing won both the constructors’ championship and, through Fabrizio
Giovanardi, the drivers’ championship too. In fact, the team has clinched the
constructors’ title in seven of the last eight years, racking up 100 race wins
along the way.

With Seat withdrawing its factory team at the end of last season, Vauxhall’s
departure leaves the BTCC worryingly sparse. Yes, we might well see
privately entered Vauxhalls in the championship next year, but with no
manufacturer-based teams on the grid, things aren’t looking good.

BTCC boss Alan Gow, however, is putting on a brave face. “Over the last
six years we have seen direct manufacturer involvement decline within the BTCC,
yet at the exact same time we have seen crowd figures, TV audiences and
competitor numbers rise,” he said. “That’s certainly no coincidence, and the facts prove that a heavy degree of manufacturer involvement is no
longer crucial to either the success or popularity of the championship.”

So what do you think? RIP BTCC? Or the start of a brave new privateer era?

Talking of the BTCC, here’s Richard Hammond’s affectionate
look at the last 50 years of touring car racing… 

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