During the Nineties if you wanted to see the best racing in the world, you didn’t follow the Formula One procession. You followed the awesome Supertouring era of the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) and laughed giddy at the on-track antics of tin-tops banging against each other on the way to the finish line. It was arguably the greatest era of touring car racing ever, and with the new millennium it ended.
For 2001, the championship went through the rulebook completely rewriting the best bits, in order to simplify the team management and curb costs which escalated to ridiculous levels as manufacturers fought each other every other weekend. In 2000 for example, the final Supertouring year, it was between Honda, Ford, Nissan, Peugeot, Alfa Romeo, Vauxhall and Toyota. Quite a field, and prior to that everyone had a go, including Volvo, Renault, BMW, Audi, you name it. If you weren’t racing in the BTCC it means you weren’t interested in selling saloons in the UK.
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Anyway, the whole cost cutting exercise for 2001 worked to some extent. It attracted MG as a new works entry in the championship, and a few left-field private entries running Mitsubishis, Protons, a Lexus IS200, and an Alfa Romeo 147.
To be fair the Alfa wasn’t a factory outfit, but it sure as heck didn’t help the Italians with any sales in the UK. As the first independently run car ready for the new rules in 2001 the thing perhaps should have taken more time to roll out.
Basically, it was a bit useless, which wasn’t what Alfa wanted for its brand new 147 model that had just hit the market the year before. During the season, the little 147 managed to rack up 16 retirements, and at seven races the Alfa didn’t even bother to start.
Unsurprisingly the 147 never showed up for the 2002 season, and in fact never raced again at all.
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