TCR Talk: TCR UK is on its way!

Since my post came out in January about the possibility of a TCR UK Series, there’s been a lot of movement on this issue starting with the confirmation during July that there will be a TCR UK Series in action in 2018!!!!

Please see included in this post the release that both TCR UK and the BRSCC sent out earlier this month:

 

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Plans for a TCR series in the UK have taken a major step forward with the MSA’s Motor Racing Championship Control Panel giving its outline approval to a TCR UK championship in 2018.

Full details have yet to be announced, but it’s envisaged that the series will be made up of 6 or 7 rounds with each event consisting of two races. The series will be run by the British Racing and Sports Car Club (BRSCC), which already co-ordinates a number of high-profile championships across the UK.

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The UK series will join a list of championships around the world that have adopted the TCR sporting and technical regulations. In 2018, that list will be further enriched – amongst others – by TCR UK and the TCR class within the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series in the USA.

The success of the TCR concept can also be measured by the list of eligible cars that includes the SEAT León, Volkswagen Golf GTI, Audi RS 3 LMS, Honda Civic Type-R, Opel Astra, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Subaru WRX STi, Peugeot 308 Racing Cup, Kia cee’d and Ford Focus, while Hyundai has already started the homologation process for its i30 N TCR.

The TCR concept was announced in 2014, with the TCR International Series now in its third season. The idea behind TCR is to revive interest in Touring Car racing around the world, controlling costs and enabling teams to use the same cars to contest national, regional and international championships. The concept is the brainchild of Marcello Lotti, the CEO of WSC Ltd.

Motorsports / TCR, 7. Event 2016, Hockenheim, GER

 

Marcello Lotti commented: “I am delighted that a TCR UK championship becomes the latest addition to our already large family of TCR series worldwide. This is a particularly important achievement, because the UK remains the reference country for motorsport due to its concentration of engineering companies, teams and professional people. We are confident that the new series will be successful thanks to the long-standing British tradition for motorsport in general, with particular enthusiasm for the various Touring Car categories.”

Jonathan Ashman, the Promoter of TCR UK, added: “I have worked with Marcello Lotti since the TCR concept was launched, especially with regard to the arrangements with Formula One Management. This new adventure with TCR UK brings me back to my previous experience as a Touring Car promoter, which gives me plenty of motivation to repeat the earlier success. I’m also especially pleased to have an experienced and professional management team alongside me.”

Teams and drivers requiring further information about the TCR UK series should contact info@tcrgbr.co.uk.

Ashley Sutton (GBR) Team BMR Subaru Levorg

Now since that release, there have been some interesting comments from both Jonathan Ashman, head of TCR UK and Alan Gow, the head of the British Touring Car Championship which addresses both the interest already in the newest addition of the TCR Family and how it won’t affect the BTCC…

That’s right… how it won’t affect the BTCC…

So bearing in mind that the announcement of the beginning of the TCR UK Series was on 7th July, here are the comments of Jonathan Ashman from an article published on the Touring Car Times website by Neil Hudson 7 days later about the interest in the series:
(Please the link for the article on the website here)

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

“I’ve not heard a single negative from anybody,” said TCR UK promoter Jonathan Ashman to TouringCarTimes. “Everyone’s been very positive, there’s been none of this ‘there’s no place for this in the UK,’ or ‘we don’t need any of that,’; everybody’s just bursting with enthusiasm and just saying “at last, at last.”

Mr Ashman has either managed to miss the less that constructive criticism from BTCC and British Motorsport fans alike on Social Media or has paid it no attention.

However, for those who have expressed…concern that the series will be a direct threat to the BTCC, fear not. Here are some more soothing words from Mr Ashman in the same article:

“We’re not a competitor to the BTCC, we’re a feeder. We’re massively cheaper than doing BTCC, so price-wise it lines up with the top-end one-make series, so it’s extremely price competitive. We just fit into what seems to be an enormous gap, as there seems to be no obvious feeder for BTCC these days.”

Lets also remember that Mr Ashman is also the man who promoted the WTCC, in the beginning, which whilst its on a decline in the later years, enjoyed some excellent racing at some amazing venues. TCR UK is in safe hands.

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

To add to this positive news where even the series organisers have no plans to rival the UK’s top domestic Motorsport series, which shows incredible common sense, there are more thoughts shared by the man who created the TCR Concept: Marcello Lotti.

These are shared from an article published by Alex Goldschmidt on the TouringCars.net website:
(Please the link for the article on the website here)

“I think it will be on the step ladder. BTCC for a long time, has been a reference for the national dealers involved,” admitted the Italian. “TCR is a different concept, but there is a space for it in the UK, and I hope that TCR UK can beat the numbers that we have here in Germany.

“BTCC is another level, and it could be that the same driver that wins the TCR UK Series ends up going there [to the BTCC] with a works team, so why not?”

So, the guy who created TCR endorses the fact that a potential title winner from TCR UK could in fact then move on to the BTCC as a works driver. Surely this is a win-win situation?

So we’ve heard from the series organiser and the TCR Concept creator. So what about the man himself who runs the BTCC: Alan Gow?

Here are the thoughts of the BTCC’s series head on the supposed threat of TCR UK that many see to the BTCC, which can be seen on the new Motorsport News website:
(Please the link for the article on the website here)

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 “It is not even on my radar to be perfectly frank,” Gow told Motorsport News. “Why should it be? It is nowhere near the same level as the BTCC. There could be a knock-on impact into championships that do run at level, such as things like the Mini Challenge or the Renault UK Clio Cup. But for the BTCC, it just isn’t a problem.”

Whilst Gow highlights a further issue that’s been recognised by many with a knock-on effect on such series like the Mini Challenge or the Renault UK Clio Cup, he is not worried by the creation of the UK Series and rightly agrees that he has no concern.

As regular readers of this blog will know as well as the many people I discuss and share Motorsport with on Social Media, I have been a fan of the BTCC since 1988. I’ve loved every season of racing that taken place since then through the era’s of Group A, SuperTouring, BTC, Super 2000 an NGTC.

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And that love has not diminished or changed and will continue that way. I love the BTCC still, just as much as I did back then and those who challenge that…well…that’s just ridiculous.

However I’m unique. I look forward to both the current season and the 2018 BTCC Season and also the first ever season of TCR UK. I see no downside to either taking place.

That probably also makes me the only person in the UK, but feel free to pop me a message on Social Media to let me know if I’m not alone…

What I have also found is that the TCR International Series also offers an exciting alternative to the WTCC, a series I used to follow until this year. With the Balance of Performance in place (Something similar to whats used in the BTCC) you can pick from amongst 15 drivers who each weekend are capable of winning a race.

Whilst the WTCC is designed for the World Outfits in the Touring Car World and those privateers that can afford to race on the world stage, the cars cannot be raced in any other series. TCR offers a unique opportunity:

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You can race any one of the cars eligible in TCR Regulations in any one of 20 series. This point alone has already seen some of the biggest domestic touring car teams and drivers compete in domestic series such as TCR BeNeLux, ADAC TCR Germany and the TCR Asia Series to name some of the biggest series out there.

Already there has been interest from British Motorsport teams shared in the media about running a TCR UK programme. Stewart Lines has revealed that he could run at least one SEAT Leon in the series next year, possibly at the expense of his BTCC programme. Pyro Motorpsort has also revealed that its taken part in both TCR Italy and ADAC TCR Germany events in a Honda Civic and could well run at least one car in the UK next year.

Expect a lot more news on this before the series gets underway next year.

So to me alone, this proves that there is room in British Motorsport for this new series and that it also offers the chance to see top level International Touring car drivers coming to race in the UK, a chance that you could see many take up. Add in that you could see other BTCC Teams taking part with a parallel programme and again, this seems a win-win in my eyes.

However, I do realise I’m an open minded individual and that can often cause issues. Now before anyone questions this blog, I’m not writing this to incite debate or cause argument in Social Media. I’m simply sharing the rapid pace of this new UK series since its news was announced on 7th July.

TCR International Series Bahrain, Sakhir 14 -16 April 2017

Personally, I’m hoping the start of the TCR UK Series will also see the addition of a UK round to the TCR International Series in the future. But that could be some way off before its even considered by the organisers

I also hope that I can visit a round of the TCR UK Series next year. Having made several visits to the BTCC between 2010 and 2015, I look forward to visiting at least one round of the series in 2018.

Finally, one further point for me to make. “Why don’t you cover the BTCC on your blog?” is a question I get asked a lot.

Simple. There are many professional Motorsport websites out there that commit time, money and resources to provide the best coverage of the UK’s top Motorsport Championship and can do a better job than I ever could on my own. These include TouringCars.net, TouringCar Times, Motorsport News, Autosport and Motorsport.com.

Hell I don’t even drive.

Why do I share my thoughts on TCR series and reports from the TCR International Series you ask? Simple. I’m a full time paid employee of an e-commerce fulfilment company, married to a lovely wife whom I care for outside of work and father to three lovely boys. So I share what I can and where I can when I can. But my passion for Motorsport never dies and this is a series I feel is going places that I have followed from the start.

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I recently reduced my role at the Checkered Flag where I cover the FIA World Rallycross Championship and the FIA European Rallycross Championship for these reasons as 2017 will end on a difficult note for me and my family. but in the mean time I cover what I can and one thing that will continue is my blog.

For all images used in this article, please see the following credit:

TCR International Series: http://tcr-series.com/
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship: http://www.btcc.net/
FIA World Rallycross Championship: http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as the members of the TCR Talk Facebook Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from the series.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

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