Agreement brings end to power struggle

Britain's motor sport promoters have settled their differences and will jointly stage the British Touring Car Championship and PowerTour series in 2001.

Britain's motor sport promoters have settled their differences and will jointly stage the British Touring Car Championship and PowerTour series in 2001.

Both the BTCC and Formula Three series will share joint billing in the new-look British motorsport calendar, with the National Saloon Cars and GT acting as the respective support series.

The future had looked uncertain with the touring and saloon car championships on one side stacked against the PowerTour - Formula Three and GT - on the other in a motorsport power struggle.

This is welcome news for the BTCC following the latest withdrawal of a high-profile team for next season. Ford - which leads the current series through drivers Anthony Reid, Alain Menu and Rickard Rydell going into the final two floodlit races at Silverstone tomorrow - yesterday announced they were quitting the championship.

That move followed the withdrawals of Volvo, Alfa Romeo and Audi, so the aligning of British motorsport championships is an important step for touring cars.

It is also good for the PowerTour series which feared it would be squeezed out of the picture by circuit promoters. But now the British Motorsport Promoters (BMP) have taken over the running of both series, allaying any fears that either would not be allowed access to all of Britain's circuits.

BMP have issued technical and sporting regulations for BTCC and are close to agreeing aligned touring car rules with other European series.

BMP have also opened talks with the BBC over the screening of BTCC races until 2004, but have also postponed the planned Supercar series until 2002.

Such agreement between circuit operators and series promoters is almost unheard of in British motor sport and has been welcomed by all involved. The BMP chairman, Robert Fearnall, said: "I am delighted that these initiatives create an exciting and stable future for all aspects of the motor-sport industry."

Rob Bain, the chief executive of Brands Hatch Leisure, said: "After many years of trying, it is tremendous that a unified platform for technical regulations across Europe is finally becoming a reality."

Denys Rohan, the chief executive of Silverstone Circuits Limited, said: "If spectators are to enjoy the very best of British motor sport, it is vital the whole industry pulls together. Merging promoted motorsport under the BMP banner enables us to do just that."

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