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Monday, February 26, 2024

BTCC technical chief Peter Riches to retire

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Riches, 70, led the group that devised the present vastly profitable NGTC rules and has overseen the BTCC by means of 4 rulesets since his appointment on a full-time foundation by sequence organiser TOCA in 1996.

He’ll hand over the reins to son Sam Riches, who has been working within the BTCC for 20 years since, as a teen, he grew to become sufficiently old to enter a reside pitlane.

Riches Sr joined TOCA from Lotus, the place he had labored for the reason that Seventies.

On the Hethel organisation, his duties had unfold from manufacturing into engine improvement, workshops, take a look at amenities, web site upkeep and constructing tasks, and he helped veteran Lotus man Tony Rudd re-establish Lotus Engineering.

Riches grew to become a weekend BTCC scrutineer in 1993, however inside a few years the function was changing into vastly demanding with, amongst different issues, huge producer help and the transfer to double-header race weekends.

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“I stated to Alan [Gow, BTCC boss] I’m packing up, as a result of I can’t go to work at Lotus and do what you need,” Riches advised Autosport. “And he stated, ‘How a lot would you like?’ And that’s how we ended up.”

In addition to changing into BTCC technical director at that time, Riches, who had joined the FIA Touring Automobile Technical Working Group in 1993, grew to become the FIA Tremendous Touring technical delegate, travelling to Tremendous Touring races world wide.

With help from Roland Dane, group founding father of the Triple Eight squad that ran the Vauxhall works group, Riches then devised the BTC Touring rules that changed Tremendous Touring within the BTCC in 2001.

Just a few years later, he was instrumental within the introduction of the FIA’s newest Tremendous 2000 ruleset, specializing in the nationwide homologation necessities that had been crucial for Vauxhall – then the BTCC’s greatest producer supporter – to take part.

Peter Riches

Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Even earlier than his BTCC involvement, Riches had been a scrutineer for over a decade. He was a mechanic for nationwide racing grandee Chris Meek within the Seventies in Particular Saloons and Manufacturing Sports activities Automobiles, and in a poacher-turned-gamekeeper transfer he took on his first scrutineering function in Prodsports in 1982.

From there, he went on to hold out duties in Ford’s profitable Fiesta championship, System Ford in 1600, 2000 and Zetec guises, Group N saloons and British System 3, and likewise ‘inherited’ the British Grand Prix job in 1991.

However it’s with the BTCC that Riches has develop into seemingly inextricably related.

“My unique purpose was to go at 65,” added Riches, who will retain a consultancy contract for 2023 not less than, “after which TOCA arrange an choice on a five-year extension.

“The world is so totally different now to the place we began. I had a set of scales within the pitlane and a lift management system and that was it principally, and now we’ve bought a 40-foot trailer filled with package – the world has moved on!

“[As a consultant] subsequent yr, I’ll be in additional of a guiding function, sustaining the issues we’ve accomplished previously and guaranteeing the wheel doesn’t get reinvented and develop into sq. with a view to have a clean transition.

“What we don’t wish to do is change the route we’ve been getting into, so my data will nonetheless be there if required.”

Gow added: “Peter’s retirement will mark a big change for the championship however I’m assured that it is going to be a profitable transition as Sam takes the reins.

“Having been an integral a part of the BTCC since 1993, Peter’s departure will probably be felt all through the TOCA paddock, however we’re happy to be retaining his companies as a guide all through the 2023 season and need him all the perfect in his retirement.”

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Autosport says…

To cite a in all probability overused metaphor, Peter Riches will probably be leaving an enormous pair of sneakers to fill. Simply as properly, then, that his son Sam is an enormous bloke!

Any eager follower of the BTCC will know that, behind the sheen of huge grids offering entertaining racing, there are many shenanigans as groups foyer TOCA on parity, whether or not that’s extra enhance for themselves or much less for others.

Once in a while one group – or its drivers – will converse out in public and complain that they don’t have sufficient straightline velocity or efficiency away from the startline.

Riches’s job isn’t a simple one, and his function actually is to implement what TOCA desires, which is a fantastic balancing act to maintain everybody glad. Or, maybe extra precisely, to forestall anybody changing into too unglad.

His newest massive job was to steer the implementation of hybrid for 2022, and present championship chief Tom Ingram was completely spot-on on the Donington opener in April when, in a post-qualifying paddock chat with this author, he remarked on what a terrific job TOCA had accomplished.

As Ingram identified, three vastly totally different ideas of automotive – rear-wheel-drive BMW saloon, front-wheel-drive Ford hatchback, and Ingram’s FWD Hyundai fastback – had certified on the entrance of the grid inside 0.063 seconds of one another.

Whereas Riches has a kind of fixed air of a person who doesn’t endure fools gladly, he has a persistence that has benefited groups which may be struggling and likewise media who want technical rules encapsulating in a comparatively easy-to-digest approach.

His semi-departure (he’s retaining a consultancy function not less than for 2023) from the BTCC will probably be a landmark for the sequence and plenty of will probably be sorry to see him go – and need him properly for his COVID-delayed round-the-world journey.

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