Not your average hybrid: BTCC 330e of West Surrey Racing

To most of us, the mention of the British touring car paints a picture of the era of the Super Tour, which many consider to be the head day of the touring car.

A budget of more than মিল 10 million a year to run a team has never been heard of. The cars were incredibly expensive and constantly new technologies and setups were first applied to cross the line when the checkered flag fell. However, after 10 years of ridiculous costs, it comes to an abrupt end because the manufacturers think the cost is too high.

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Subsequently, the cars first adopted the BTC (British Turing Car) revised rules in an effort to reduce costs, then the series consisted of a combination of BTC and Super 2000 regulation vehicles. All this changed with the introduction of NGTC (Next Generation Turing Car) regulations in 2011. Standard components and tight budget controls mean more affordable, closer racing.

Fast forward to 2022, and the next big change has now come with the introduction of a hybrid powertrain assembly.

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Touring cars have always been a manufacturing car-based series, and with the transfer of fully and partial-electric drivetrans to be seen as more environmentally friendly, motorsport equivalents have adopted the same approach. The ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ mentality is compatible with the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

BMW 330e racing campaigns in West Surrey are no different (See their behind-the-scenes tour of their convenience here)

Before any large assembly is held, the team starts with a shell dug out of the production line, which is then sent to prepare the chassis. A wide range of WSR-designed roll cages and airjack supports are welded, with a large portion of the metal work removed from the front of the firewall and from the back of the C-pillar. Standardized RML-designed subframes are then attached to the front and rear of the fixed roll cage positions.

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The Delta Cosworth hybrid battery unit is self-contained and located in the passenger seat of the car, which is connected to the electric motor generator unit in a controlled Xtrac gearbox (yes, you guessed it). The unit offers an increase of about 8% compared to the 379 + hp offered by the 2.0L combustion engine, the amount of hybrid boost available depends on many factors available but is ultimately balanced to ensure close racing. This extra power will not be enough to support a straight pass, but will allow gaps to close and put pressure on the drivers to defend or support the attack. Success ballast is also a thing of the past. Race winners now have fewer laps that offer hybrid boosts instead of adding weight to their car.

The parties have the option of leasing the TOCA-spec engine manufactured by M-Sport, but selected to run the BMW B48 engine manufactured by WSR NBE, again controlled by a standard turbocharger and intercooler. For the 2022 season, all cars will have to run on 20% biofuel.

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The BTCC-Spec AP racing caliper and two-piece rotor provide stopping power at each corner. Note the color vans, which show the different temperature ranges of the disc experience. Even the brake pads are controlled, with three compounds being chosen for the front and two for the rear teams.

Although the minimum vehicle weight (1,355 kg for rear-wheel drive, 1,325 kg for front-wheel drive) has been made mandatory, the WSR team has gone to great lengths to save weight wherever possible. This allows them to add weight again, but in the position of their choice to optimize the balance. Numerous weight savings discounts can be seen across the car.

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Compared to standard road cars, BTCC has made some drastic changes to the purpose of car racing. Custom wide arches adorn each corner and hold center-lock wheel shod with Goodyear racing slicks. This year only medium, hard and rain composite tires are allowed, the quantity again tightly controlled. The exhaust now ends at a side exit just in front of the left rear wheel.

People often joke about using marine plywood as a splitter, but it’s much more common than you realize in top-tier motorsport. It is durable, fairly light, flexible and most importantly, much cheaper than the carbon equivalent. It forms part of the front arrow package, which is balanced by a control-sized TOCA rear wing above the boot lid.

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The interior is fairly scattered, with the battery unit mentioned above sitting next to the driver’s seat on the left side of the car. A Cosworth LCD dash and switch panel are confined to the seat within easy reach of the driver, while the most commonly used controls are on the steering wheel buttons.

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Although each component is carefully thought out and optimized in its own right, the sum of all the components together makes for an extremely impressive and well-presented car. There is nothing in the car without purpose and WSR’s track record of success is something they want to continue this year, the car is proof of that.

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Understandably, there are some disadvantages to taking a hybrid powertrain in touring car racing and other forms of motorsport. This is probably the primary purpose of the hybrid road car – to help fuel the economy and reduce emissions. But it also has benefits. The on-demand power it provides can only make for closer, more exciting racing with more passing and leader changes.

If there is one thing, BTCC races can never be accused of being boring, and this new era of racing will only make it stronger.

Cheyenne Ford
Instagram: chaycore

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