With the 2016 TCR Season almost upon us, The Annual Balance of Performance Test has taken place at Valencia in Spain.
This test is to make sure that all TCR Cars entered in any TCR series run as equally as possible to ensure the most equal field possible for both close racing and an exciting spectacle for the fans. All of the cars are driven by Former Formula One & Touring Car driver Nicola Larini.
Here are the major stories to come out of the two days of testing…
TCR TEAMS IN TWO TESTING DAYS AT VALENCIA
Several of the teams that will be competing in TCR series during 2016 gathered at Valencia’s Circuito Ricardo Tormo for two days of testing.
B3 Racing Team Hungary is running its three SEAT León cars for Dušan Borković, Mat’o Homola and Attila Tassi; Stefano Comini and Jean-Karl Vernay are driving the Volkswagen Golf cars of Leopard Racing; six drivers are sharing the testing duties in the VWs of Liqui Moly Team Engstler (Davit Kajaia and Michail Grachev for the International Series, Andy Yan and Filipe Clemente de Souza for TCR Asia, Tim Zimmermann and Tom Lautenschlager for TCR Germany); Michela Cerruti is driving the Romeo Ferraris Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Aku Pellinen sits in the JAS Motorsport Honda Civic, Aurélien Comte is at the wheel of a Peugeot 308 Gti run by Sébastien Loeb Racing; Target Competition is using two Opel Astra cars with four drivers (Jordi Oriola, Josh Files, Loris Hezemans and Mike Beckhusen). The Top Run Subaru STi is also expected to hit the track tomorrow.
The test was disrupted by a mid afternoon shower.
Nicola Larini will drive all of the different models to help the TCR technical staff fix the Balance of Performance for the season.
LARINI DRIVES EIGHT CARS IN TCR BOP TEST AT VALENCIA
Nicola Larini had his hands full, jumping back and forth from one car to another, during the TCR Balance of Performance test at Valencia.
The Italian driver got behind the wheel of eight different cars: Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Honda Civic, Opel Astra, Peugeot 308 Racing Cup, Subaru STi, Volkswagen Golf GTi and two models of SEAT León, 2015 and 2016.
Following the instructions given to him by TCR Technical Director Andreas Bellu and TCR Technical Delegate Umberto Fasolo, Larini ran each car in a number of different tests.
“We asked him to complete five-lap stints with the cars on the minimum weight and then with the maximum 70kg ballast on board. Then he performed corse-down tests that consist in accelerating the car and leaving it going in neutral to evaluate aerodynamics and fluency. Finally we ran acceleration tests with 100% and 90% of the power,”Bellu explained.
The BoP results should be published in about one week’s time.
LEOPARD RACING UNVEILS LIVERY OF ITS VW GOLF GTI TCR
In Valencia, Leopard Racing has unveiled the livery of the Volkswagen Golf Gti TCR cars it will field in the 2016 TCR International Series.
“We are very pleased to have received the long-awaited VW Golf TCR. The cars look aggressive and with Leopard Racing colours, they demonstrate their power. We look forward to try them on the track and be in Bahrain for the first race,”said Team Principal Claudio Berro.
The team’s two drivers, 2015 TCR International Series champion Stefano Comini and former Indy Lights champion Jean-Karl Vernay took the track for the first time at the wheel of their cars during the test.
Leopard Racing will test again in the next days at Magny-Cours before shipping the Golf cars to Bahrain.
MAT’O HOMOLA HAPPY WITH VALENCIA TEST
The B3 Racing Team Hungary took part in the Valencia test days with its three SEAT León cars driven by Mat’o Homola, Attila Tassi and Dušan Borković.
Homola was happy with the work they have done in Spain: “Compared to 2015 the car has changed a lot. It is now fitted with a sequential racing gearbox, new aerodynamics kit, cooling system, suspension and brakes. We have a great tool in our hands, which can help us to fight for the leading positions.”
The young Slovak continued: “We focused mainly on suspension and vehicle balance setting. The new gearbox is a lot lighter than the one we used last year and this changed the vehicle weight distribution, so we need to adjust the setting accordingly. We have tested several brake pad compounds and are still looking for the best solution that can make the car faster and easier to drive.”
Homola’s race engineer Manuel Huguet added. “We have gathered a lot of data, were able to test several suspension settings and practised starts. Mat’o is a passionate driver and did a great. We are still facing some small teething issues, but nothing serious.”
TEAMWORK MOTORSPORT READY FOR TCR ASIA WITH VW GOLF GTI
China’s Teamwork Motorsport will enter the 2016 TCR Asia Series as part of a plan to diversify and extend its footprint in the worldwide motor racing scene.
The Chinese outfit has placed an order for two 2016-spec Volkswagen Golf GTi TCRs from its long term partner, GUSTO Technik, which has earned the status of Official Distributor and Service Provider for VW and SEAT Motorsport’s TCR products in Asia.
The TCR formula has proven to be hugely successful and popular since its introduction at the start of 2015. A low cost offering that includes extensive exposure, a varied calendar and equal, competitive racecars has attracted several established and young teams and drivers with numbers expected to increase significantly in 2016, particularly on the Asian continent.
Teamwork Motorsport, which has demonstrated its skill and expertise by winning multiple titles in the China and Hong Kong Touring Car Championships and achieving several Macau Grand Prix victories, has grown into a team that is capable of competing on the global stage, and this is evidenced by its projects with a variety of high profile organisations and individuals, such as UK-based RML Group, World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff and double British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington.
Teamwork Motorsport Team Principal, Paul Hui, said: “We will continue to adhere to our concept of servicing our customers and assisting them to achieve their goals and we will focus on two main components needed for championships like the TCR Asia Series – the reliability of the equipment and the professionalism of the team. I believe the VW Golf GTi will be the vehicle to beat in 2016 and the strong support from VW Motorsport will help us to achieve our target.”
Teamwork Motorsport is eager to step into this new territory, aware that teams with strong credentials from the Asian region have already committed to the TCR Asia Series.
The first two rounds will take place at the Korea International Circuit on 14-15 May and the team’s preparations are already well advanced.
Enquiries from drivers interested in Teamwork Motorsport’s vacant TCR Asia Series seats have been flooding in and an announcement on the outfit’s 2016 line-up will be made in due course.
FRD MOTORSPORTS TO BUILD NEW FORD FOCUS TCR
The FRD Motorsports Team is currently working to completely rebuild the Ford Focus TCR cars.
“Following the technical issues we experienced last year after taking over the programme which had been started by another engineering company, we have decided to start over from scratch. We re-designed the car and will develop it, which prevented us from taking part in the Balance of Performance test at Valencia,” explained Team Principal Kenneth Ma.
The technical development is currently under way in FRD’s workshop in Colorado, USA. The team plans to build four cars to begin with; they will be fitted with Xtrac racing gearboxes and 2.0-litre turbocharged engines developed by Ford Performance in Dearborn, Michigan.
“We will enter two cars for the full season in the TCR International Series, however, because we expect to begin testing in April, our target is to join the series in Monza at the earliest,” said Brian Ma, Vice President of Technical Operations.
The team will announce the name of the drivers in due course. In 2015, Robb Holland, Andy Yan, Kenneth Ma and James Nash all drove the Ford Focus originally built by Onyx Engineering.
POSITIVE RESULTS FOR THE ROMEO FERRARIS GIULIETTA TCR
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR built by Romeo Ferraris engineering company took part in the Valencia test days with Michela Cerruti at the wheel.
The Italian car completed a large number of laps with no reported technical issues.
Team principal Mario Ferraris commented: “We can be satisfied. On both days the car proved to be reliable and we were able to focus on the set up and balance. Our work resulted in very positive response in terms of performance. We still have more work to do, but the potential looks good.”
Michela Cerruti echoed: “This was our first test on a long track and we were pleased to see that everything worked. The Giulietta has a very good base to work from, but clearly there is room for improvement, especially with regard to its behaviour in cornering. We would have liked to have had more time for testing and development, but that is true for everybody! Still, it’s good to see that we did not have any major hiccups and we are confident for the kick-off in Bahrain.”
ORIOLA, AFANASYEV, NASH FORM CRAFT-BAMBOO LUKOIL’S TRIO
Craft-Bamboo Racing will continue their partnership with SEAT Sport and Lukoil in the TCR International Series. The team will field three León TCR cars once again, with James Nash joining Pepe Oriola and Sergey Afanasyev who have been confirmed after a brilliant 2015 season.
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing stated: “Over the winter we worked hard to retain our partners and carry this consistency into the second TCR season; we feel very confident that we have the full package to deliver a championship winning effort.”
Evgeny Malinovskiy, Head of Lukoil Racing added: “With the long history of mutual success that Lukoil and SEAT Sport have in motorsport I trust that, together with Craft-Bamboo Racing we can be at the top in this championship.”
Pepe Oriola: “I am so happy to stay with Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil and SEAT, as last year we worked so well together and fought for the championship right up until the last lap. I want to thank Lukoil and SEAT Sport for making this all possible and I hope to grab the Drivers’ championship this year.”
Sergey Afanasyev: “We had a lot of great moments last year and my target is to get even more of them this year! There is always only one target – to be first. But it is always a matter of experience, and the championship will be much stronger this year. I’m aiming to be in the top three drivers and help the team to win in the Teams‘ championship.”
James Nash: “I am really excited to be returning to touring cars with a team I had much success with. It’s going to be a big challenge, but one I am glad to be heading. Pre-season testing has been limited but stepping into a championship-winning car is always a good place to start!”
WHY DID A PEUGEOT RUN IN THE VALENCIA TEST?
The participation of a Peugeot 308 Racing Cup to the TCR Balance of Performance test in Valencia has immediately excited curiosity and set speculations.
Florent Meilhaud, Responsible for 2RM Project at Peugeot Sport explained the situation: “Since last year, when we started working on the new 308 Racing Cup for our one make trophy, we realised that the car was perfectly matching the spirit of TCR. The logical consequence was to approach the promoter of the International Series to see how the 308 Racing Cup could fit in the championship.”
During the Spanish test the RCZ Racing Cup French champion Aurélien Comte drove the car, while Sébastien Loeb Racing provided logistic support.
“We came to Valencia to show the car and to understand where it is compared to the others. But we also would like to understand what we can do to join the series in a near future,” Meilhaud said.
The Peugeot 308 Racing Cup is fitted with a 1.6 litre engine. “We think that our car has a strong potential thanks to a very good chassis and its light weight. We trust the TCR technical department to establish a Balance of Performance that could help the 308 Racing Cup to be competitive.”
Jordi Oriola will contest a full season in the TCR International Series in 2016 after being named as the first driver with defending champions Target Competition.
The 19-year-old tested the team’s new Opel Astra at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo near Valencia earlier this week and has now agreed a deal that will see him embark on his first full season in the series this year.
Oriola endured a trying to start to 2015 with three tough weekends with Campos Racing’s Astra, but then returned to the series for the Macau season finale; taking a solid fifth place in race one in a Target-run SEAT before being forced to retire whilst running in a podium position in race two.
Having received a ‘number of offers’ following that Macau performance, the younger brother of 2015 series runner-up Pepe Oriola has now elected to go with the Opel for the upcoming campaign and is chasing a top five championship finish in what is effectively his rookie season.
“This has always been my dream, racing in a worldwide championship where young drivers like me have a future in the touring car field,” he said. “I am looking forward to showing my potential in TCR. The calendar is outstanding, with three meetings be running with F1. In addition, I will be driving the Opel Astra, which I had the opportunity to test at the Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia and which gave me a really positive feeling.
“I am very happy for the moment I am about to live, and I have to thank Opel and all my sponsors for giving me the chance to compete in a full TCR programme. This year is really motivating, with unknown circuits for me. No-one should doubt my will to make the most of the first races, even if my goal will be fighting for the first five positions in my first year.”
Target Competition have previously confirmed that they will run a total of seven Astras across the TCR International and Germany Series this year.
SO, theres quite a few updates here from the test and don’t forget, the first TCR International Series weekend gets underway on 2nd April at the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. No doubt there will be many more announcements to come and I will try to share as many as possible both on here and in the TCR Talk Facebook Group.
All the best!!