Starting from 2009, all cars in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) will run exclusively on bio-ethanol fuel after the decision was approved by the championship’s governing council yesterday. From next year onwards, some of the teams will start using bio-ethanol fuel, racing alongside both petrol and diesel-powered cars in an effort to help manufacturers research the different types of bio-fuel available.

The WTCC in its current form has only been around for three seasons. Originally called the European Touring Car Championship, the name of the series was changed to the WTCC by the FIA in 2005 and is now ranked as the third most popular FIA championship after Formula One and the World Rally Championship.

The event enjoys strong backing from manufacturers such as BMW, Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet and SEAT, with most of the race cars based on regular production models from the various carmakers. Under the FIA guidelines, engines are limited to 2.0L and many of the features found in production cars such as variable valve timing, variable intake geometry, ABS brakes and traction control are not permitted.