Tight Championship Battles on Track as the 2019 CTCC Presented by Pirelli Wraps up at CTMP

Expectedly, the TCR class battle was intense all weekend.  Starting in Friday’s qualifying, Jean-François Hevey (No. 21 TRC/M1GT Audi RS3 LMS TCR) put down a pole setting lap of 1:24.338, besting the previous CTCC TCR lap record set by teammate Matthew Taskinen during the Victoria Day Speedfest earlier this year.

TCR points leader Gary Kwok (No. 66 M&S Racing Honda Civic TCR) qualified in second place, trailing by a mere 0.014 second!  Gary managed to pass Jean- François early on and briefly got into a dogfight for the overall lead with the Audi R8 LMS GT4 in GT Sport.  The race eventually evolved into a battle between teammates with Tom Kwok (No. 55 M&S Racing Honda Civic TCR) passing the No. 21 Audi.  However, Gary was able to hold onto the lead in the No. 66 car and finished first ahead of brother and teammate Tom.

A race between the two TRC/M1GT Audi RS3 LMS TCR’s of Jean-François Hevey (No. 21) and Matthew Taskinen (No. 23) unfolded behind the Honda’s, with Hevey holding on to finish in third and Taskinen right behind him in fourth.

After an intense day of racing on Friday, CTCC competitors had a chance to regroup Saturday morning before the round 10 finale.


The championship battle continued on all the way through the last race.  M&S Racing teammates Tom (No. 55) and Gary Kwok (No. 66) started on the front row, with Gary leading the race in first overall for a few corners before the GT Sport cars passed him on the straightaway.  Tom managed to catch up and passed Gary on the back straight for the lead and went on to win the race.

After falling into a slump at GP3R, Matthew Taskinen (No. 23 TRC/M1GT Audi RS3 LMS TCR) bounced back for the final round to finish second after passing Gary’s Honda around the halfway mark.

The next group of TCR cars finished over 11.5 seconds later.  Travis Hill (No. 26 TWOth Audi RS3 LMS TCR) led the group in third place, recovering from a midfield finish the day before which pushed him down one spot in class standings.  Finishing fourth is Bob Attrell (No. 88 Hyundai Racing Canada Hyundai i30N TCR) who made a tremendous charge to overtake Jean- François Hevey (No. 21 TRC/M1GT Audi RS3 LMS TCR) who ended up in fifth.

Falling back a few spots after running in front of the entire field, Gary implemented a conservative strategy to avoid contact as he only needed to finish the race to win the championship.  He dropped back to finish in sixth place and secured his first CTCC championship in 13 years of racing!

Despite missing the podium in round 10, Jean- François Hevey’s performance was enough to secure second place in TCR class ahead of Travis Hill in third.  The TCR top three finished within 30 points of each other, showing that the class should be highly competitive for years to come!  Matthew Taskinen could not catch the top three despite his strong performance and finished fourth for the year

TCR Talk Review: 2019 Canadian Touring Car Championship – Calabogie

The Canadian Touring Car Championship visited Calabogie Motorsports Park, a 3.05 mile, 20-turn circuit in Calabogie, Ontario for rounds 3 and 4 of the 2019 season.

Race 1

Matthew Taskinen and his #23 M1GT Audi RS3 LMS would start from pole, but after only 11 laps, Taskenin would drop out of the race.  Taskenin’s teammate, Jean-Francois Hevey would inherit the lead in the sister #21 M1GT Audi and cruise to victory over Bob Attrell’s #88 Hyundai Racing Canada Hyundai i30N and Travis Hill’s #26 TWOth Autosport Audi RS3 LMS after fighting from 5th.

Race 2 

Travis Hill would start from pole for Race 2 with Matthew Taskinen and Gary Kwok’s #66 M&S Racing Honda Civic starting second and third for round 4.  In an exciting race, Kwok would dart his way to the lead and go on to grab the win.  Bob Attrell would force his way through the grid after starting sixth, making it back to back second-place finishes for the Hyundai driver.  Matthew Taskinen would find redemption in Race 2 and claim in the final step on the podium.

Rounds 5 and 6 will take place at Shannonville Motorsports Park June 29th – 30th.

(image credit: JAS)

 

 

TCR Talk Review: 2019 Canadian Touring Car Championship – CTMP

The Canadian Touring Car Championship kicked off their 2019 season at the fast and flowing Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (Mosport), a 2.4 mile, 10-turn circuit in Bowmanville, Ontario.

Race 1

11 TCR competitors took to the track, and it was the Matthew Taskinen show as he took his #23 M1GT Audi RS3 LMS to the class pole, just .895 seconds off the overall qualifying time from a GT4-classed Audi R8.  Behind Taskine was the #26 TWOth Autosport Audi RS3 LMS of Travis Hill with Alain Lauzier and the #47 Alphasonic Audi RS3 LMS qualifying third.  Find the full qualifying results here.

Like qualifying, Taskinen and his Audi dominated the field, taking the win by 19 seconds ahead of the second-placed M&S Racing Honda Civic Type R of Gary Kwak, who charged through the field from 6th.  The final podium position went to Travis Hill’s #26 TWOth Audi RS3 LMS.  Find the full race 1 results here.

Race 2

After laying down a blazing 1:24.373 qualifying lap, Matthew Taskinen and the #23 M1GT Audi RS3 LMS were once again on pole.  Travis Hill and the #26 TWOth Autosport Audi would line up second with the #21 M1GT Audi of Jean-Francois Hevey third.  The closest non-Audi was Gary Kwok and his M&S Honda Civic in sixth.  You can find the full qualifying results here.

The race would see the top 3 pull away and finish in their starting order, Taskinen – Hill – Hevey, with Gary Kwok and the #66 Honda moving up to finish fourth.  Bob Attrell and the #88 Hyundai Racing Canada entry was also a big mover as he would start seventh and finish in fifth.  You can find the full race results here.


Race Replays:

The CTCC circus will next be in action for rounds 3 and 4 on June 1st – 2nd at Calabogie Motorsports Park in Calabogie, Ontario.

 

Canadian Touring Car Championship Debuts TCR Format at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

The 2019 Canadian Touring Car Championship (CTCC) kicks off this weekend with rounds 1 and 2 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, formerly Mosport.  The series welcomes the TCR formula for this season with eleven of seventeen competitors fielding cars from the ever-growing category.

For those unfamiliar with CTCC, the series features multi-classes races at some of the most challenging circuits across Canada.  The entry-level class is TC where very few modifications can be made to the cars.  The GT Sport class is reserved for sportscars with advanced aero and suspension systems and the GT Cup class is for ultra performance sportscars.  New for 2019 will be TCR, which everyone visiting TCRtalk.com should already be well aware of.

The 2019 CTCC TCR grid sees a slew of Audi RS3 LMS machines with eight of the eleven classed cars coming from the German manufacturer.  Rice Racing will field a single car for Lindsay Rice.  The Racing Company will also field a single entry for Jean-Francois Hevey.  M1GT, longtime SRO America competitor in multiple categories, will enter the #23 RS2 LMS for Matthew Taskinen.  TWOth Autosport will run three cars for Travis Hill, Edward Killeen, and Ron Tomlinson.  The final Audis come from Alphasonic Motorsport  for Nelson Chan, who is entering his fifth consecutive season in CTCC, and Alain Lauzier.

M&S Racing will bring two Honda Civic Type Rs for CTCC veterans Tom and Gary Kwok.

The final TCR entrant comes from Hyundai Racing Canada with a single i30N for Bob Attrell, the 2017 GT Sport-class champion.

The Canadian Touring Car Championship features 12 rounds at five different circuits as the series visits Canadian Tire Motorsports Park this weekend, Calabogie Motorsports Park June 1st-2nd, Shannonville Motorsports Park June 29th-30th, Circuit ICAR July 13th, Trois-Riveries August 9th-11th, and closing out the season where it kicked off at CTMP.

The series will live stream 8 rounds in 2019 (including this weekend) at the series website:  http://touringcar.ca/live-streaming/ 

Race 1 will start on Saturday May 18th at 8:00am ET.

(image credit: CTCC)

An IMSA, SRO America, and CTCC-backed TCR North America Cup? An Idea:

(image credit: TC America)

TCR has been taking over the racing world since its launch in 2015 and the popularity we see in Europe and Asia is starting to spread across the oceans to North America. Three main series feature TCR machines here in the States – IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge, SRO America’s TC America, and the Canadian Touring Car Championship.

With all three TCR grids being on the smaller side (by that I mean not enough cars to run on their own) all series run multi-class with GT4 or lower-level touring cars spread throughout the grid, something that makes the North American series unique, but also goes against the traditional TCR format we see with WTCR, TCR Europe, or TCR Germany.

I’ve often called for a true TCR North America championship to be established (which IMSA holds the license to) for a few reasons: 1) That’s my preference as TCR single-class racing is fantastic and when it’s paired with GT4, TCA or other classes, it often gets overlooked when the battles on track are worthy of full-race coverage on their own. 2) The three North American series that have TCR all have small grids individually that could not support the class on their own.

TC America attempted to run TCR on their own starting this season, but that idea was squashed by WSC due to the previously mentioned IMSA license. Now if IMSA, SRO America, and CTCC could work together to form a sustainable and cost effective TCR North America championship, the grids would be robust while visiting some of the best and most diverse circuits on the continent.

While the scenario of the three series working together to form a TCR North America championship is admittedly a pipe dream, something that may be realistic (and a way to start a true TCR North America championship one day) would be to form an end-of-the-season “super weekend” that invites all North American-based TCR competitors together for a three-race TCR North American Cup.

Put politics aside and bringing the three grids together at the end of September or early October would be a fun and strong way to end the season while giving the drivers and teams something a little extra to strive towards.

Use WSC-based BoP, slap on a set of spec tires (Michelin or Pirelli), have a rotating circuit each year and let them go at it over two or three 40 minute races to find the North American TCR Cup champion. For example the 2020 TCR North America Cup could be at Laguna Seca, 2021 could be at Mont Tremblant, 2022 at Road Atlanta, and so on.

With a decent prize and rewards purse, this could easily turn into the premier touring car weekend and really help jump start the category in North America. And who knows, maybe it could be the foundation of a true championship similar to how TCR Europe has progressed (although different circumstances with FIA WTCC helped there).

TCR is a fantastic format but one that has not truly been shown off in North America. Starting a TCR North American Cup weekend could be the spark it needs.