|1991 BTCC season|
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The 1991 British Touring Car Championship season was the inaugural British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season which commenced on 14 April and ended on 6 October. The championship consisted of twelve meetings, each held in the United Kingdom. Roy Cop won the Overall and Manufacturer Drivers championships and Mike Bell won the Independent Drivers championship with 21 class wins.
Group A had towards the end of its existence been dominated by Ford and their Sierra RS500. Super Touring had first appeared in 1990, and with BMW and Vauxhall running their cars in that category they effectively had a years head start on their opposition for 1991. BMW also had the numerical advantage, the factory Prodrive team entering a car and the semi-factory Vic Lee Motorsport team entering four. Vauxhall had two cars, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota. Trakstar Motorsport appeared on the original entry list, posing as the official Ford Works Team but withdrew before the season started due to technical issues with the Sierra Sapphire. In the Independents Championship, the Tech-Speed Motorsport team fielded a pair of BMW M3s and ACE Motorsport ran a pair of Peugeot 405s.The first ever round of the STSR British Touring Car Championship was ran at Thruxton on 14 April 1991. All 3 races were won by different drivers, all driving different cars. Mike Bell won the first ever race in his Independent ACE Motorsport Peugeot 405 and manufacturer drivers, Vik Rune (Toyota) and Roy Cop (Nissan), won races 2 and 3 respectively.
Round 2 at Silverstone was dominated by Rune with the Toyota driver taking maximum points with Pole Position, Fastest lap and the win in all 3 races. As 2nd placed Patrick Babiche missed the Silverstone round, Rune managed to extend his championship lead to 33 points over BMW Team Listerine driver, Josh Jones, who inherited 2nd place from his team mate.
At the third round of the season at Donington Park, it was the first appearance of the BMW works team, BMW Team Finance, with their sole entry driven by German driver Johannes Meles. BMW Team Labatts returned with 2 entries (including Alen Kopić's first appearance in the series) however sister team, BMW Team Listerine only brought one car with Patrick Babiche missing a second round. With Rune and Cop both winning a race each, Rune was able to extend his championship lead further to 43 points as Cop moved into 2nd place in the standings.The fourth meeting at Brands Hatch was dominated by Toyota, with the Japanese marque taking pole position, fastest lap in both races and a victory each for Rune and Michael Sneath who claimed his first win of the season. Sneath moved into second place in the championship as a result of 6 podiums in 7 races. It was also the first appearance of the Mitsubishi works team, John Maguire Racing with Brit Adam Manderson piloting the Galant. Mitsubishi's debut yielded two 8th place finishes. As Kris Simton missed Round 4, Mike Bell was able to extend his lead in the Independent Drivers' Championship to 24 points.
Oulton Park played host to Round 5 of the championship with the Cheshire circuit appearing to suit the Nissan Primera better than the Toyota Carina. Although the Rune and the Toyota team secured their 5th pole position of the season, it was Cop and his Nissan team who left Oulton Park the happier with 2 wins and 2 other podium place finishes. Cop moved back up to 2nd in the championship, closing the gap to Rune at the top to 41 points. Mike Bell returned to the podium for the first time since race 1 of the championship and Meles and BMW (who had missed round 4 at Brands Hatch) also achieved their 1st podium finish in the BTCC with a third place in the final race of the day.
Round 6 of the season was at 'the Macau of Great Britain' at the Birmingham Superprix. After a highly controversial meeting, Roy Cop won the sprint race and the top Independent, Mike Bell, won the feature race. However, it was championship leader Vik Rune who was banned for the rest of the season due to his conduct in the sprint race. At the halfway point of the season, Rune still lead the Overall and Manufacturer Drivers championship but seeing as he was banned for the rest of 1991, would score no further points in the season. Cop had closed the gap at the top to thirty-five points, with Sneath a further 20 points back. Toyota lead the Manufacturer Teams championship from Nissan by 92 points. In the Independent Drivers championship, Bell led Kris Simton by 26 points but it was the Auto Trader Techspeed Team team of Simton and David Todaro which lead Bell's ACE Motorsport team by forty points.Round 7 marked the start of the second half of the season and was the first time the BTCC had traveled to Scotland as Knockhill played host to the first round outside of England. Vauxhall Sport chose to miss the long journey north, but John Maguire Racing took advantage of the sparse grid and enjoyed their first win in the BTCC in Race 17. Lorenzo Turri, making his first appearance in the Galant, enjoyed a fantastic debut in the series by achieving a podium finish in all three races (including Mitsubishi's maiden win). However, it was a dreadful weekend for Toyota who failed to finish on the podium for the first time in 1991. After Vik Rune's disqualification from the championship, Greek driver Dimitris Gkaras replaced the Croatian for the remainder of the season. As Toyota failed, Nissan and Roy Cop took advantage, with Pole position, three fastest laps and two race wins, moving the Belgian into the lead of the championship for the first time. Mike Bell had another fantastic weekend with two more podiums and three Independent wins, to move further clear in the 'Privateer championship'.
Round 8 and the series returned to England to Castle Combe in Wiltshire. It was as a sparse grid with only nine entries but it was business as usual in qualifying and race 1 as Cop took pole, fastest lap and the win. Championship leaders, Toyota, suprised everyone by only bringing one car, driven by second placed Sneath achieving 2 third placed finishes in race 1 and 3. But in race 2 and 3 it was the BMW's of Simton and Meles who took the first wins for the German marque, both their first wins in the series. Simton became the second privateer to win a race to close the Independent Championship to thirty points to Bell in the process. In the Overall and Manufacturer Drivers championship standings, Cop extended his lead further from Sneath 54 points.
The BTCC returned to Silverstone for Round 9 of the Championship for the support race for the 1991 Formula One British Grand Prix. The races would be run on the full Grand Prix circuit, whereas Round 2 used the National layout. Cop got Pole Position, Fastest Lap and won the sprint race to extend his championship lead from Sneath, who finished 2nd on the road and Lorenzo Turri rounded off the podium. The Italian won the feature race (which was awarded double points) with Cop and Sneath also finishing on the podium.Donington Park played host to its second BTCC meeting of the season for Round 10, with the third race of the weekend being the first ever night race in the STSR BTCC series. The meeting was dominated by Cop putting him on the brink of the 1991 title and moving Nissan above Toyota in the Manufacturer's championship. Cop achieved Pole Position, three race wins and fastest lap in each race to take maximum points from the meeting. Turri finished 2nd in each race and there was third place finishes for Sneath, Meles and Simton. Dionysis Faraos joined ACE Motorsport to help Bell win the Independent Drivers Championship and bring Ace Motorsport within touching distance of the Techspeed team in the Independent Manufacturer's championship.
The penultimate meeting of the championship saw a return the Hampshire circuit of Thruxton for race 27 and 28. Again, it was Cop who dominated and earned maximum points to become the first ever STSR British Touring Car Overall and Manufacturer Drivers champion. Following two superb second place finishes, Mike Bell clinched the Independents crown with a meeting to spare. The sprint race was a momentous occasion as it was the first time two Independent drivers had shared a podium as Simton finished in 3rd behind Bell in second. Johannes Meles achieved 3rd place in the feature race.
The curtain came down on the 1991 season at Brands Hatch for the finale of the inaugural season of the championship. Lorenzo Turri and Mitsubishi took their first pole position in the BTCC in their final race weekend together. Turri also took two race wins with Patrick Babiche (making his return to the series) taking the win in the other rain soaked race. With Babiche's win, BMW had three different race winners in 1991, all driving for different teams. Nissan wrapped up the Manufacturer Teams championship thanks to Cop and Osborne achieving 4 podiums at the final weekend and the Techspeed team clinched Independent Teams championship making use of their numerical advantage throughout the season.
Teams and driversEdit
The following 18 drivers and 9 teams took part in the 1991 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
|Nissan Janspeed Racing||Nissan Primera eGT||4||David Osborne||All|
|Kaliber ICS Team Toyota||Toyota Carina II||6||Michael Sneath||All|
|15||Dimitris Gkaras||7, 9|
|John Maguire Racing||Mitsubishi Galant||9||Lorenzo Turri||7-12|
|BMW Team Finance||BMW M3||12||Johannes Meles||3, 5-8, 10-11|
|BMW Team Listerine||BMW M3||27||Josh Jones||1-4, 6, 9|
|37||Patrick Babiche||1, 12|
|Vauxhall Sport||Vauxhall Cavalier GSi||32||Matt Hull||1-6|
|99||Phil Dodge||1-3, 12|
|BMW Team Labatts||BMW M3||49||Kevin Bolland||1, 3-8, 10-12|
|ACE Motorsport||Peugeot 405 Mi16||17||Mike Bell||All|
|Auto Trader Techspeed Team||BMW M3||25||Kris Simton||1-3, 5-12|
|77||David Todaro||1-4, 6, 11-12|
Mid season changesEdit
- Toyota driver Vik Rune was banned from the rest of the 1991 season after Round 6 following a number of dangerous and unsporting incidents during the meeting at the Birmingham Superprix. He was replaced by the Greek driver Dimitris Gkaras.
All races were held in the United Kingdom. A provisional 31-race calendar for the BTCC was officially announced. One meetings would have a race held at night: the final race of the tenth meeting at Donington Park on 15th September.
(National Circuit, Northamptonshire)
|3||R7|| Donington Park|
(Grand Prix Circuit, Leicestershire)
|4||R9|| Brands Hatch|
(Indy Circuit, Kent)
|5||R11|| Oulton Park|
(Island Circuit, Cheshire)
|6||R14|| Birmingham Superprix|
|7||R16|| Knockhill Racing Circuit|
|8||R19|| Castle Combe|
(Grand Prix Circuit, Northamptonshire)
|10||R24|| Donington Park|
(National Circuit, Leicestershire)
|12||R29|| Brands Hatch|
(Grand Prix Circuit, Kent)
|1st||2nd||3rd||4th||5th||6th||7th||8th||9th||10th||11th||12th||13th||14th||15th||16th||17th||Pole Position||Fastest Lap|
Independents points systemEdit
Manufacturer Driver's ChampionshipEdit
Manufacturer Team's ChampionshipEdit
|1||Nissan Janspeed Racing||Roy Cop||12||3||1||7||2||4||7||1||7||2||1||1||2||1||3||1||3||1||1||2||5||1||2||1||1||1||1||1||2||2||2||936|
|2||Kaliber ICS Team Toyota||Vik Rune||4||1||2||1||1||1||1||3||1||3||10||2||1||2||8||805|
|3||John Maguire Racing||Adam Manderson||8||8||7||9||7||7||10||8||4||9||7||7||7||8||7||8||8||8||480|
|4||BMW Team Listerine||Patrick Babiche||3||2||5||5||1||4||248|
|5||BMW Team Finance||Johannes Meles||6||4||4||8||3||10||7||6||6||3||4||4||1||5||3||7||5||3||230|
|6||Vauxhall Sport||Matt Hull||11||9||7||10||7||7||9||8||6||5||9||10||DNS||5||9||225|
|7||BMW Team Labatts||Kevin Bolland||6||4||DNS||11||12||5||9||6||6||9||6||5||7||10||10||9||DNS||DNS||10||DNS||DNS||9||9||8||7||10||217|
† Double points were awarded for the Silverstone Grand Prix feature race
Independent Driver's ChampionshipEdit
Independent Team's ChampionshipEdit
|1||Auto Trader Techspeed Team||Kris Simton||9||8||8||3||4||6||4||6||5||5||8||4||6||10||5||6||6||1||2||6||4||9||9||3||3||4||4||4||6||348|
|2||ACE Motorsport||Mike Bell||1||6||4||5||5||5||5||5||4||4||8||3||4||10||1||3||2||4||5||8||6||4||5||6||5||6||2||2||3||3||7||310|