The World Touring Car Championship is set to introduce Rallycross-style ‘joker’ laps on street courses in an effort to make the racing more unpredictable.
Most touring car championships have packed grids, masses of fans and close, exciting racing, yet somehow the FIA WTCC has managed to achieve none of those things. In an effort to make things more appealing they’re now looking to introduce ‘joker’ laps to stop the races from becoming so processional. They will be implemented at Marrakesh and Villa Real – both street circuits which tend to produce somewhat dull racing.
Joker laps have been used in Rallycross for years. The idea is that a particular part of a circuit has an alternative layout that either makes the lap longer or – most likely in the case of the WTCC – shorter, which every driver can use on a certain number of occasions throughout the race.
The idea works well in Rallycross but the idea of having them on road circuits seems somewhat bizarre. It seems like a good way of allowing fast drivers to easily get ahead of slow drivers without actually having to overtake them, which is surely bad for fans.
If the idea sounds familiar to F1 fans, it’s because back in 2010 Bernie Ecclestone proposed that tracks have ‘shortcuts’ for drivers to use a few times per race. It sounded pretty silly back then, but if other championships start looking at using them you can bet it wont be long before it’s given serious discussion in F1.