SPO

SPO: Canadian Touring-ish Car Championship – Could This Be It?

Hello All, and welcome to another edition of SPO! This is where I go no holds bar on a topic that has been grinding my gears as of late. With that said, let’s dive into this!

Firstly I will say that I almost wrote about this topic a year ago, and I had to revive this post from the wordpress’s version of the trash bin. I felt like at the time I was complaining too much about the Canadian Touring Car Championship (CTCC), since I felt they were straying too far from what the series SHOULD be, in my opinion.

Now for this year, they’ve changed the format as a reaction to market trends, which I will explain a bit later. However, I don’t think they’ve gone far enough, and I think it may be too late for the series. Now having actually competed as a team member back in 2014, I feel like I can say that with some legitimacy.

First I have to list the class structure as it was in 2014:

  • B-Spec (PWC TCB)
    • This class is for essentially cars like the Micra Cup cars
  • Touring Car [TC] (PWC TCA)
    • This class is for lightly modified road cars, no aero allowed
  • Super Touring [ST]
    • This class is for moderately modified road cars. Minimal aero modifications allowed.

Then for 2015-2016:

  • Touring Car [TC] (PWC TCA)
    • This class is for lightly modified road cars, no aero allowed
  • Super Touring [ST]
    • This class is for moderately modified road cars. Minimal aero modifications allowed.
    • BMW M235iR’s are allowed as-is.
  • Grand Touring [GT]
    • This class is for heavily modified road cars. Minimal aero modifications are allowed.
    • Grandfathered in previous iteration of CTCC GT cars.

Although you’d think this was a good choice to bring this class back, considering a team could convert their existing ST car to GT. However, the end result was terrible to say the least. Oftentimes you had ST cars winning overall, which makes no sense. Either the drivers weren’t as good to run the GT cars to their full potential or the GT cars weren’t as fast as the ST cars. Either way, it was not good.

An example of a CTCC TC class (TC America TCA) entry

From a car perspective, considering that the handling of the two cars aren’t that much different, you could see how that is possible for the two class to be pretty close on pace. With the exception of Mosport and Mont Tremblant (the latter of which isn’t on the CTCC calendar), all the tracks in Canada at the moment are really small, technical tracks with no real long straights.

So to try to remedy this, in 2017 they allowed GT4 and TCR cars to join the GT class. However, in their infinite wisdom, they also allowed an old Ferrari challenge car in the GT class, which was above and beyond faster than anything the converted ST cars or old Canadian Supercar series cars (they themselves the previous iteration of CTCC GT cars) could do.

It was an utter gong show at the first race at Mosport for Victoria Day Speedfest. The Ferrari was 1.5s faster than anything else in the field and nearly won by an entire lap at the first race of the weekend. It was pretty much in it’s own class. At least the series saw that, and ended up giving it more BOP for the next races, so it wouldn’t be able to dominate like it did that first weekend.

So by now, some GT4 and TCR cars had actually taken up a significant portion of the the GT class numbers. This resulted in two different specs of purpose built race cars with the addition of upgraded ST cars running in the same class. You pretty much differentiated GT as two different sub-classes, effectively. This is despite the fact that the GT4 and TCR cars got nerfed to run along side the converted ST cars.

Fast forward to 2018, they introduced the GT Cup class so that “old cup cars” like the Ferrari Challenge and older Porsche Cup cars could go play in. Oh, and they allowed even more highly modified GT cars not a GT4 or TCR in this class as well.

A TCR car for 2019

You’d think this would fix the race craft here. A nice segregated class system that should be enough to create a logical finishing order. In reality, this is how the first race of the year in at Mosport in 2018 was (remember these are 40min races):

Pos O/APos In ClassClassCarDiff. To O/A Leader
11GTCPorsche GT3 Cup
22GTCFerrari 458 Challenge13.293
31GTBMW M4 GT41:02.339
42GTHonda Civic TCR1:13.551
53GTHonda Civic TCR 1:21.815
64GTAudi RS3 TCR1 Lap
75GTToyota 861 Lap
81STPorsche Cayman1 Lap
92STBMW M235iR1 Lap
103GTCHyundai Genesis2 Laps
113STBMW M235iR2 Laps
124STBMW M235iR2 Laps
136GTAudi RS3 TCR2 Laps
141TCMazda RX83 Laps
152TCHonda Civic SI4 Laps
163TCGlobal Mazda Cup4 Laps
174TCMini Cooper JWC25 Laps

If you are confused right now, GOOD. That’s kind of the point I’m trying to bring up here.

So what are they doing for this year to make the racing better. Well, they dropped the Super Touring class and created a TCR only class. Judging from the amount of cars I saw at this year’s CIAS, it should be a pretty full class this year. Other than that, there were no changes at all.

Now, if they had kept (and tweaked) the ST class, and dropped the GT and GT Cup classes, that would be ideal and the series would benefit. However, they didn’t, so it’s not. More on that later.

One major issue the series has, is that they need to leave the old “fast” cars out of the series and let them just do CASC or Quebec’s Super Production Challenge. Trying to create a sportscar series when you are branding yourself as a touring car series is honestly absurd. Especially when you have that exact series south of the border in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Cup Challenge. Now, if instead, they want to be relevant and look good next to SRO’s TC America (their real competitor), that’s what they need to do.

Another glaring problem is that they have been changing the rules package practically every year since 2017. This doesn’t help things either; I’ve seen the same car go from ST to GT Cup in a matter of 2 years (see below). The amount of money, time and effort to convert that car each time is significant. It’s also a lot of work for the series to “try” to balance the cars as well.

Above is an example of an old ST car that was converted to GT that was then converted again to GTC. I don’t have a photo of the Hyundai Genesis as it ran in ST form, but it basically had less aero versus the 2017 GT class variant. Note there’s really no strong difference.

The class structure its self is also absurd. You have TCR cars that have more grip than a GT4 car, and all we have in Canada are small tracks. Mosport is the only big track on their calendar where you can use the extra power in a GT4 to your advantage. Compare that to the GT class which include overpowered ST cars, it makes for awkward race craft.

They need to pick build rules that are common to something else and just stick to it. The TC class is currently aligned with TCA in TC America and the TCR is global. That much they are doing right. Then you have the GT and GT-Cup classes, which you are allowed to either buy a turn-key car, or go nuts on your own build (with some restrictions). Really the only difference is power, not so much grip.

Then throw in the fact that old Ferrari Challenge and Porsche Cup cars aren’t that much gripper either, compared to current GT4 cars, and you have a lot of weird times on track where a “slower” car is stuck behind a “faster” car.

As a fan, it’s just a jumbled mess and looks half-assed. Just do it right, keep it to 3 classes, get rid of GT and GT cup and replace it with it with a spec class like the M235iR’s. The racing would be so much better and it would present a better series to actually watch AND it would be cheaper for the competitors. Win win WIN.

“I want this series to succeed…. but they just make choices that make no sense….”

It would also help the series to balance the cars better. They don’t have that many people running the show, I think they have like 3-4 tech staff checking the cars on a regular basis, and they *should* be checking a whole bunch of stuff. If you say it’s a spec class, then in theory you can spend more time checking the easy and important aspects of the cars.

As far as entertainment value, it’s true that a lot of people leave the track before CTCC cars go to race at Mosport; more people watch the Micra Cup race than CTCC. Could it be that they have to wait for all the SRO events to be over and race at 6pm, or could it be that the series is just not fun to watch? In my opinion, it is the later. If the series was good and fun to watch, people will stay till 6:30 on a Sunday to do so.

There’s so much going on during the race that you can never tell who’s actually winning. Oftentimes I’ll stroll up to the podium just to see who won in each class, because I couldn’t tell during unless there was a safety car period close to the end of the race.

An example of a GT4 car within the GT class

I really hope they can turn it around, because I loved the series when we were competing in it, back in the TCB/TCA/ST era. Sure the series has had issues in the past in various aspects and they still exist today, but the racing was incredible back then, it didn’t really matter all that much at the end of the day.

Now, I’ve heard rumours that CTCC will close at the end of this year. If it is true, that would be quite a loss to Canadian motorsports, but at the same time it is not surprising at all, given what I mentioned above. This speculation is why I brought this post back, because I feel like their issues are easily solvable and it would be really sad to see the series fold.

I want this series to succeed. They have the bits and pieces to make this a great series, comparable to TC America, but they just make choices that make no sense and it ends up causing the series to go backwards.

Well, that’s all I got for you guys today, I hope you enjoyed this edition of SPO!

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