Sam Tordoff: Knowing your ballast from your boost restriction

Are you struggling to tell your ballast from your boost restriction? If, like me, you are a newcomer to BTCC since the MG KX Momentum Racing team debuted last year, you might find some of the equalization techniques employed in the BTCC between rounds and races somewhat baffling. There’s no denying that they result in an amazing spectacle so I thought it was high time that I learnt a little bit more about the regulations and shared my findings with you. At last week’s FleetWorld show, MG KX Momentum’s rising star Sam Tordoff took some time out from setting incredible times demonstrating the capabilities of the MG6 DTi-Tech road car to talk me through it.


Sam confirmed that Ballast for Qualifying and the first race of each meeting is determined by your place in the overall Championship standings. “So for example, Jason will still carry the heaviest ballast into round three despite finishing outside the top six in the final race at Donington?” I asked. “That’s right” Sam confirmed and before I was able to rather grumpily note that this didn’t seem at all fair to me, he threw in the curve ball “but we should get an improved boost, so that will help us.” At this stage I had to admit that someone had tried and failed to explain boost to me last year and, frankly, not got very far. “Boost works differently to success ballast, which is directly derived from race results and championship standings but is instead based on fastest laps, so qualifying performance plays a big part in this. Boost levels are determined from a rolling average of the two previous rounds and apply to models rather than to a single team”. I asked if this meant that the MG KX Momentum Racing team would have an advantage at Thurxton. “It certainly won’t hurt but I’d expect all the Civic’s to be strong again, we know that they are going to be very quick there but we know that we’ve got great pace too and I’m looking to mixing it with them all again next weekend.”


Thankfully, the boost calculations are only applied round to round and the application of Ballast is relatively straight forward in races two and three at each round. In the second race, the top 5 drivers from the first race benefit from grid position relating to their previous finish but are handicapped with additional weight – first place takes pole and maximum additional weight  - known as ‘success ballast’, second has second place and the next highest weight penalty and so ondown to fifth position.


In Race three, the success ballast is awarded in the same way – based on the finishing positions in the previous race. Starting position however, is a little more complicated. I asked Sam to explain “It works on the principals of a ‘reverse grid’ but it’s not quite that straightforward. At the end of race two, those cars placed between 6th and 10th go into a pot. Whoever is drawn out goes to pole and that part the grid reverses behind them. Say I finish in 8th place in race two and am drawn out, I will start on pole and the grid will follow behind me i.e.8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 – the previous race winner, will now start in 8th. Behind them, drivers in positions 9 – 32 begin where they finished race two and remain unchanged. It means that depending on the draw, the reversal can be as few as six cars or as many as ten.”


As always, we will have updates from Thruxton over the weekend as Sam, Jason and the rest of MG KX Momentum Racing team aim to keep their MG6’s at the top of the tree heading into the early season month furlough.

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