Riggers wonders whether Britain's favourite tin-tops have lost their way
So. The BTCC has decided to change its points structure for 2012, giving the first 15 finishers a chance to score points - whereas before only the top 10 would score. Okay, so it gives those who finish outside the top 10 on a regular basis something to aim for, I've no doubt, but it does seem a bit like giving your race car a good polish when what it actually needs is an engine-out rebuild.
Because there's something missing from the BTCC these days. When I was growing up, the highlight of my motorsport year (apart from the couple of times I got to go to the British GP) was a visit to the BTCC.
Being the fresh-faced yoof that I am, I missed out on the RS500 Sierra era (though I do recall watching it on the box), but me, my dad and his mates used to trundle around the country during the halcyon days of the Super Touring rules following the series. Brands, Snetterton, Donington, Oulton, Thruxton - you name it, we parked in a muddy overflow car park near it.
And we were treated to a great day, without fail - there were always huge crowds, big-name drivers from all over the world driving for a plethora of factory-funded teams and great racing (not to mention more than the odd spot of bent metal). And even if we didn't make it we could always catch it on the Beeb. Complete with Murray walker on the mic.
Nowadays, it just isn't so exciting. Sure, there are big grids, increasing TV and live-action viewer numbers, plenty of close racing and - if you have the stamina - you can watch six hours of coverage on ITV4 for every event, but it's missing the spark it used to have.
And I don't know what it is. Is it that the cars aren't so appealing? Is it the lack of truly top-line drivers? Is it the knowledge that the cars' performance is artificially capped?
Whatever the problem is, I hope they sort it out. Because I want to get excited about the BTCC. And I just can't bring myself to do it at the moment.
Fortunately there is something filling the tin-top void in my life - Australian V8 Supercars, via Motors TV. It's got top-notch drivers in well-matched cars, and there's guaranteed close racing up and down the field at eevery round. that all the cars are rear-drive V8s is really just icing on the cake. I only wish the action didn't take place 10,000 miles away...