FEL’s Sports Car Championship Canada takes control of the TCR class, putting the CTCC on the ice

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A bitter feud that fundamentally fractured Canadian sports car racing for more than a year has finally reached its conclusion – and brought about the collapse of a series that had spanned more than a decade.

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The Canadian Touring Car Championship (CTCC) was established by John Bondar and contested its first season in 2007. Bondar’s wife, Dominique, later joined him to administer the series, and she took over management when he co-purchased Shannonville Motorsport Park in late 2019.

Around the same time, preparatory work began on the Sports Car Championship Canada (SCCC), which was created by FEL Motorsports and its founder, Chris Bye. The series was created with the intent of directly competing with the CTCC, which Bye says came at the request of a group of CTCC competitors who had become unhappy with several aspects of that series’ operations and policies. Bye incorporated a prize money system among other changes to the SCCC in response to these concerns.

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Motorsport is a highly regulated activity. Each racing series anywhere in the world that wishes to host a specific class of car must be licensed by a regulatory body. The class at issue here is the TCR, which is a touring car racing class for front-wheel-drive 4- or 5-door production cars powered by 1.75-2.0-liter turbocharged engines. Cars such as the Hyundai Veloster N TCR and Elantra N TCR, Honda Civic Type R TCR and Audi RS 3 TCR are among those competing in this category globally.

FEL SCCC
FEL SCCC Photo by FEL Motorsports/John Walker

CTCC was the exclusive license holder for the TCR class in Canada for 2021. Bye says that when he created SCCC he did not know the TCR license was exclusive and was under the impression that he would also get a license when he started registering teams. and sign television contracts for its inaugural season. (Both series were granted a GT4 class license for 2021 as no exclusive Canadian deal existed for the class at the time.)

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When Bye’s license application was denied, he bypassed the TCR framework entirely and instead approached another licensing body for the right to establish the TC Canada class, which housed the same cars that would qualify for the TCR class.

What followed was months of in-fighting, mud-throwing, cease-and-desist orders, and unsustainable car counts for both series – although more so for CTCC than SCCC – as well as ‘a warm concern about whether the rift in the sport could ever be repaired.

The situation finally came to an end on April 4 this year when the world organizers of the TCR class, WSC Group, announced that FEL had signed a three-year agreement for the right to operate the TCR in Canada. CTCC’s deal with WSC Group was terminated a year earlier, for which the series received compensation in an unspecified amount. The WSC statement included a statement from Dominique Bondar thanking the band for their partnership.

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With the CTCC no longer having rights to the TCR class and the GT4 class having a relatively small pool of competitors to draw from in Canada, Bondar says the CTCC has decided to “take a break.”

“We haven’t closed the series or ended it,” Bondar told Driving.ca. “We just put it on hold. … We don’t know what the future holds, but if at some point there’s an opportunity, or a request, or whatever, then we’ll be back. For now, we’re just enjoying peace of mind.

Bye says the higher number of cars in SCCC illustrates why his series was successful in securing the TCR class rights.

“The teams have spoken,” he said. “(Some observers call it) a hostile takeover. I absolutely don’t see it that way. It’s like I opened a restaurant across from your restaurant. Why is it a problem? I guess the teams think we provide better value because they all came to us.

The 2022 SCCC season begins the May long weekend as part of Victoria Day Speedfest at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. For more information, visit felmotorsports.com.

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