Super Touring

Friday Photo – BTCC Audi A4 quattro Super Tourer with Frank Biela

Twenty years ago the British Touring Car Championship was reaching peak popularity with global motorsport fans. On track, the 1996 season was being dominated by an all-conquering silver machine.1996 BTCC Audi A4 quattroFull disclosure – the Audi A4 quattro Super Tourer is, without doubt, the favourite BTCC machine of ESM‘s Editor. Ever. He even has the t-shirt, although it’s a little tight after nearly two decades… So the news that Audi Sport legend Frank Biela is going to be reunited with the A4 quattro this weekend is a big deal.1996 BTCC Audi A4 quattroIn 1996 the BTCC was one of the most competitive championships on the planet. To turn up and take both Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles at the first time of asking, was a huge achievement for Audi Sport, and a massive marketing boon for the Audi brand. Using all-wheel-drive gave the A4 a big advantage over two-wheel-drive rivals, resulting in Biela winning eight races in addition to taking another twelve podiums. Weight penalties in 1997 meant Biela could only fight to second in the championship, whilst for 1998 all-wheel-drive was banned from Super Touring.

Although the technical ability of the A4 quattro was immense, Frank Biela’s own personal talent cannot be understated. Along with the BTCC title, his career highlights include: five outright Le Mans wins (2000-2002, 2006, 2007), two American Le Mans Series wins (2003, 2005), 1991 DTM champion, 1993 French Touring Car champion, and 1995 Touring Car World Cup winner. For many racing drivers, winning one of the above would be immense, but to do all of them is off the chart. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, all those titles were taken behind the wheel of an Audi. Cut Biela open and you’ll probably find his veins arranged in the shape of the Audi badge, such is his association with the brand.

So it’s fitting that he’ll be driving the A4 quattro BTCC racer this weekend at Knockhill, doing parade laps as part of the David Leslie Super Touring Car Festival. It probably wouldn’t have been fair on everyone else to let him actually race, we imagine. To celebrate, Audi UK have shared a host of photos from that successful 1996 season. Enjoy:

Could Volvo Return to the BTCC?

This week Volvo Australia announced it would be unleashing the S60 Polestar on the V8 Supercar series, in a tie up with the respected Garry Rodgers Motorsport team, to see them on the grid for 2014.

This is actually the Polestar S60 from the Swedish TTA series, but you get the idea.

This is actually the Polestar S60 from the Swedish TTA series, but you get the idea.

Volvo has a history of competing Down Under; the company won the 1986 Australian Touring Car Championship using the 240T and later found victory at Bathurst with a Supertouring specification S40 in 1998. The V8 Supercar Championship is seemingly going from strength to strength with Volvo’s news meaning they will bring the total of manufacturers on the grid to five for next year.

But why does this mean a potential return for Volvo to the British Touring Car Championship? Well, the announcement of Volvo heading to the V8 Supercar Championship was noted by Volvo UK on Twitter with this:

VolvoBTCC01

So, EngageSportMode asked this slightly provocative question:

VolvoBTCC02

To which Volvo came back with this intriguingly worded message:

VolvoBTCC03

Interesting, eh? Granted it isn’t a fully fledged “yes we will be back in the BTCC next year” but, at the same time, it isn’t a “no, definitely not, stop asking these questions” answer. I think the use of “future projects” and “watch this space” all lean towards a suggestion we could see Sweden’s finest back on the grid in the UK. If it’s true, just remember you read it here first.

Thinking about it further, it’s fair to say the time is probably right for Volvo to take on the BTCC again. Recent Polestar concepts such as the 451 bhp C30 PCP and latterly the S60 clearly show that someone in Gothenberg has a performance mindset at the moment. Coupled with the success of the BTCC’s adoption of NGTC in making racing more affordable, myself and ESM’s BTCC correspondent would not be surprised if we saw some Swedish metal on track next season. Although whatever vehicle they use, it’d never be as cool as this:

So remember, if a Volvo materialises in the BTCC next year, EngageSportMode.com were first with the news!