THE JACK SEARS TROPHY

Round 10 of the 2012 British Touring Car Championship.

Technical regulations are dull. Necessary, but dull. It’s all figures and long complicated words that only engineering minded folk will care for. That must be this long, this wide, that powerful – that sort of thing.

However, tech regs for 2013 have allowed for a shiny new trophy to be on offer in the British Touring Car Championship. The Jack Sears Trophy will be awarded for the top driver competing in an S2000 car come season’s end. While the main championship trophy carries with it prestige and a 65 year history, the Jack Sears Trophy is more than just a new, shiny cup; it carries the name of a remarkable racer, and the sport’s first champion.

‘Gentleman Jack’ won the inaugural British Saloon Car Championship in 1958, driving an Austin Westminster. After drawing on points with Tommy Sopwith, it was initially suggested the champion would be decided by the toss of a coin. The idea was very unpopular with both drivers and fans and so, at the final meeting at Brands Hatch two identical looking Marcus Chambers-owned Riley One-Point-Five works rally cars were brought along for a five lap shoot-out. To make the race fair, they raced five laps, switched cars, then raced five laps again with the driver who had the quickest combined time being crowned champion. In pouring rain, Sears became the first ever champion by 1.6 seconds

58searsBTCC

The Jack Sears Trophy is therefore quite significant and gives the BTCC 2013 another level of interest for fans. While this year it becomes more difficult for those running S2000 cars to claim outright wins due to the expected superiority of the NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) cars they can still fight for ‘class’ victory by being the first S2000 car across the line. In a way, there will be two races going on at the same time.

The trophy has been implemented into the BTCC in order to give the S2000 runners something to aim for. Why can’t everybody just run the newer, faster NGTC cars and compete for the main title? Simply because the S2000 cars are a cheaper option for some of the smaller teams and there are so many of the cars around that it would be a shame to waste their racing potential by rendering them redundant. It also means the number of entrants for 2013 can remain remarkably large and give fans more for their money.

To make it more simple to follow, the Jack Sears trophy wont operate on a points paying system like the main championship but rather a ‘medal’ system like the one Bernie Ecclestone dreamed of for F1 a couple of years ago; the first S2000 car home wins a cup – the driver with the most cups at the end of the year wins the Jack Sears trophy. Simple. With fans wanting to follow the main championship points race-by-race as well the Independent team’s championship, a third, points-based tier of racing would over-complicate things and anything that distracts from the racing is bad news.

Some people feel the ‘medal’ system isn’t the best way to score a championship but consider this; the unique way this trophy is scored could see some interesting behaviour. In effect, second place is almost worthless  (unless there is a tie at the end of the year), so every driver’s objective will be to score that class victory in every race – expect last lap fireworks.

What’s more, Jack Sears himself will present the trophy to the winner, and any driver with a sense of historical importance should be excited by the prospect.

Superb racing is guaranteed.

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