July 26, 2022 | General

Performance review commences for TCM makes and models

GULF WESTERN OIL Touring Car Masters organizers’ have commenced the next part of an ongoing review into the category, this time focusing on the on-track product the series is famous for.

TCM Category Management continue to work closely with Motorsport Australia technical advisor Scott McGrath, while also consulting with competitors, into a review of the series ‘Performance Adjustment’ system ahead of the 2023 season.

While TCM continues to provide a highly competitive product at each and every round of the series, the review of the technical specifications is focused on ensuring that close competition remains between the varied makes and models moving forward.

Unlike most national categories, TCM does not rely on ‘Technical Parity’ (identical specifications for all vehicles) to achieve even competition across the field.

Instead, TCM employs a Performance Specification register which applies engine RPM/weight adjustments to suit the various cars – examples ranging from five-litre Holden Torana’s at around 1370kg to six-litre Ford Falcon, Mustang and Chev Camaro models at 1500kg.

Rather than technical parity, it more resembles the ‘Balance of Performance’ system in place in TCR and GT racing, which allows for intensely close competition but for individual brands to maintain their own technical specifications.

Engine RPM/weight Success Adjustments are then applied for a vehicle achieving an outright 1st position result in each race of the series, and subsequently any previous adjustment is removed where a vehicle finishes 4th or worse.

This system has proven highly successful in allowing Touring Car Masters to retain the relative strengths and weaknesses of the respective vehicles.

The more nimble, lighter cars traditionally hold a slight advantage on street circuits and more technical tracks, whereas the raw horsepower of the larger capacity cars comes to the fore at high-speed places like Mount Panorama.

A survey of the 63 championship races held since the commencement of the 2018 season shows that 39 races have been claimed by the ‘six-litre’ cars, with 24 won by the smaller-engined entries.

Holden Torana’s, which currently enjoy a numerical advantage in the entry list, have dominated the more recent rounds – however this has been aided by the absence of key front-running Ford competitors like Marcus Zukanovic (due to injury) and Steven Johnson and misfortune in some races for key contenders, including George Miedecke at Sydney Motorsport Park, and Michael Almond and Cameron Tilley in Townsville.

The review process will see the category work with Motorsport Australia to detail the current performance specifications of each make and model competing in the championship, with feedback from competitors to be taken into account in considering the technical regulations for the 2023 season and beyond.

LIAM CURKPATRICK – Category Manager, Touring Car Masters

“The idea is to not reinvent the wheel but to go through everything with a fine-tooth comb, which is what we have been doing since ARG acquired the category prior to the curtailed 2020 season.

“The on-track product has always been a hallmark of TCM and we don’t want to change it. But there could be opportunities to improve it further and this process is centered around that.

“We want the category to continue to remain appealing to competitors with all sorts of different cars. This process will engage with all the competitors to get their thoughts while taking a very methodical, numbers-based approach to the ‘Balance of Performance’ in the category.

“There are many variables to take into account, including the number of competitive cars from each make or model in the field, and who is driving them at the time. The TCM grid includes a host of ‘Pro’ drivers ranging to newcomers or less-experienced ‘Pro-Am’ competitors doing it for fun. There’s a lot to account for when it comes to making sure the performance between the cars is close, without turning it into a spec formula.

“This is not about turning TCM into a complete ‘Parity’ class: that’s not what the category is about. The current regulations are several years old and we want to make sure what has been down on paper for some time suits where the category is at today.

“It’s been part of our ongoing process to grow the category and this was the next topic we have been keen to tackle and review.”