TCR Talk: The 2020 Season…

With the new year already one month old and eleven more to go, I wanted to outline the work and articles that you can expect from the TCR Talk blog during the 2020 season of TCR Competition.

As with previous years, we will be following several TCR Series that don’t always get full exposure out there in Media Land. Here are the series TCR Talk will be following this year…

The 2020 TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship

Credit: WSC Asia Ltd / TCR Malaysia

As you will already be aware, the first weekend of The 2020 TCR Malaysia Touring Car Championship took place at the Sepang International Circuit in January, where both Luca Engstler and Nico Gruber took the opening race wins of the season.

With two second places to his credit, 2018 TCR UK Champion Daniel Lloyd leads the standings so far in the Brutal Fish Racing Honda Civic Type R. With the series establishing itself as the winter series to be in if you want to get some early running in the car ahead of the traditional March/April start, TCR Malaysia will once again give the fans an idea of what certain liveries will look like.

TCR Talk will be following the series in its second year of running, with all rounds being held at Sepang International Circuit during the season.

The 2020 TCR Denmark Touring Car Series

Credit: TCR Denmark

TCR Denmark is one of the newest TCR Series to join the global family in 2020 and TCR Talk will covering the first year of action as the Danish series makes its mark in the world of TCR.

With entries already being confirmed for the first season and models such as the Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Peugeot 308 and the Alfa Romeo Giuletta, the series is shaping up to have a positive first event and good attendance from local drivers.

TCR Talk will be following the series in its first year of competition with interest, where there will be crossover events with the already established Scandinavia Touring Car Championship during 2020, offering some impressive grids and very talented drivers going for the spoils.

The 2020 TCR Australia Touring Car Series

Credit: ARG / TCR Australia

TCR Australia made its debut in 2019 and what a debut season it enjoyed!

The series enjoyed one of the most successful first seasons for any TCR Series globally with expanding grids on a weekend by weekend basis and an exciting championship battle that went all the way to the final race weekend of the year.

TCR Talk will be following the series in its second year of competition and it will also be reporting on the brand new TCR Asia-Pacific Cup. This new event is open to TCR cars with teams and drivers competing on the Albert Park street circuit as part of the support package to the 2020 Australian Grand Prix.

As for TCR Australia itself, the series will visit new circuits this year, including a debut event at the iconic Mount Panorama venue. Already home to the well known Bathurst 12 hours and the Bathurst 1000, TCR Australia will have a round on the mountain as well.

The 2020 ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Championship

Credit: ADAC / TCR Germany

The ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Championship returns for its fifth season of competition in 2020 and TCR Talk will be following the series for a second consecutive year.

The series is considered to be one of the toughest national TCR Series to compete in and often, the title fight has gone down to the wire with several drivers in the mix. With 2019 Champion Max Hesse already confirmed to be moving to sportscars as part of the BMW Junior Team, a new champion can be crowned this year.

TCR Talk will be following the series in its fifth year of competition, where entries have already been confirmed in the form of Mike and Michelle Halder. With visits to the Czech Republic, The Netherlands and Austria, The 2020 ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Championship maintains its international reputation and will be a joy to watch.

The 2020 FIA Motorsport Games – Touring Car Cup

Credit: FIA Motorsport Games / SRO Motorsport Group

2019 saw the FIA Motorsport Games move to a full event for various different regulations of motorsport to compete for Olympic medals: GT Cup, Touring Car Cup, F4 Cup, Drifting Cup, Karting Slalom Cup and Digital Cup

With the 2020 event now confirmed to be taking place at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, the organisers have already announced that the same events will return for this year. This means that touring car fans will once again see TCR cars in action as the chosen regulations by the FIA for the Touring Car Cup.

TCR Talk will be following the second running of this event, once again focusing on the Touring Car Cup itself. With the 2019 event showing some exciting, hard and close racing from Vallelunga in Italy and Team Russia’s Klim Gavrilov taking the Gold Medal in the event, expect to see more entries and exciting racing from this meeting.

TCR USA: The 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge & The 2020 TC America Series 

Credit: IMSA/LAT Images (Richard Dole)

TCR Talk will be continuing its coverage of the America TCR Competition in 2020, where US-based  Reporter Matt Kistler will be watching the TCR class action in both the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and the 2020 TC America Series.

The 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge has already seen its first event completed, the BMW Endurance Challenge, being on the support package during the Rolex 24 at Daytona event. The Road Shagger Racing Audi RS 3 LMS driven by Gavin Ernstone and Jonathan Morley clinched victory in the TCR class at the end of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenger opener at Daytona.

The 2020 TC America Series gets underway over the weekend of March 6-8 at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin, Texas where reigning champion and FCP Euro driver Michael Hurczyn will begin his defence in the Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR.

TCR Talk: The Brits Abroad!

Credit: TCR Japan

TCR Talk will once again be following the progress of the British Drivers who race in TCR Series outside of the UK and who are not involved in both TCR Europe and WTCR.

2019 saw three British drivers racing in TCR Series abroad:

Daniel Lloyd ran a full-time campaign in the TCR China Touring Car Championship, where he drove for the MacPro Racing team in a Honda Civic Type R FK7. The 2018 TCR UK Champion went on to finish the season as runner up.

Matt Howson made his touring car debut in the brand new TCR Japan Touring Car Series, where he drove for the KCMG team in a Honda Civic Type R FK7. Howson would go on to become the Saturday Series Champion and was crowned the overall champion.

Bradley Burns made his touring car debut in the ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Championship, where he drove for the Pyro Motorsport team in a Honda Civic Type R FK7. Howson was a leading contender in the Honda Junior Cup before withdrawing from the series before the end of the season.

We’ll be looking out for the British drivers as they compete for honours once again in the various TCR Series around the globe and reporting back on their progress.

Credit: FIA WTCR / DPPI

I will be keeping things up to date on here as well as in The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group where members will also be sharing their thoughts and any news from The 2020 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), The 2020 TCR Europe Touring Car Series, The 2020 TCR UK Touring Car Championship and other Domestic & Regional TCR Series from around the world.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

TCR Talk Reviews: TC America at Road America

Vincent Dominates TCR Race 1 Win At Road America; Haldeman Takes Exciting TCA Win

Under sprinkling skies, Michael McCann Jr. and the #3 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS lead the field to green, but as the field got to turn 5 the slippery tarmac would hurt the leader as he slid wide, falling from first to last, handing the lead to Nate Vincent in the #72 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI. Vincent would never look back and go on to cruise to the TCR victory. “It was tricky driving in the rain, just tip-toeing around. This was my first time racing here at Road America, so having it in the rain was something! The team did a great job of setting up the car to handle the wet conditions and that was really the trick to bringing it home,” said Vincent.

As the field reached Canada Corner, Victor Gonzalez in the #99 VGMC Honda Civic Type R then fell victim to the rain and would spin out of third place, falling down the order. Championship leader Michael Hurczyn and the #71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI would slide into second place, where he would finish. Hurczyn would claim the race’s fastest lap, giving him pole for Sunday’s race 2. Gonzalez would fight his way back through the field and finish third.

James Walker in the #34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo Giulietta would come home fourth with Christian Cole and the #3 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS claiming the TCR Cup win, finishing fifth overall.

With 28 minutes remaining, Mark Pombo and the #59 MINI Team JCW MINI Cooper would pass Chris Haldeman in the #69 X-Factor Racing Honda Civic Si for the lead. Haldeman would then go wide defending at turn 3 and go off track, falling to eighth in the TCA class.

As the clock ticked down to the 21 minute mark, Nate Norenberg in the #60 MINI Team JCW MINI Cooper would go off at The Kink, hitting the barrier but would get the car back to pitlane, keeping a full course caution from falling. Nick Wittmer and the #91 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ sT would inherit second place momentarily as Pombo then had an off from the lead, putting Wittmer in first with Tomas Mejia in the #69 MINI Team JCW MINI Cooper landing in second. While that was going on, Haldeman would fight his way back to third place and start his pursuit for second.

With 11 minutes left on the clock, Haldeman’s attack would see him overtake Mejia for second going into turn 3. Mejia would come home third with Taylor Hagler and the #77 X-Factor Racing Honda Civic Si fourth. Stephen Jeu would round out the top five in the #02 X-Factor Racing Honda Civic Si.

On the last lap, Haldeman’s charge would not stop and would overtake Wittmer for the lead, claiming his first win of the season. “I started from pole and pretty much immediately put myself in last, so I had to charge back through the field. Luckily it ended with me still taking the win!” said Haldeman.


Gonzalez Conquers Slippery Road America to Claim TCR Victory; Mat Pombo Takes Wet and Wild TCA Win

After a slight delay due to rainy conditions, Race 2 for the TCR and TCA classes got underway with championship leader Michael Hurczyn leading the field to green in the #71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI after two laps behind the safety car to test conditions.

Heading into turn 5 at the start, Michael McCann Jr and the #3 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS went wide, falling to the back of the field from fifth position. At the same time, Nick Wittmer in the #91 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS would shoot past Tomas Mejia’s #62 MINI Team JCW for the lead in TCA as Mejia would fall to third in class as Tyler Maxson and the #74 Copeland Motorsports Mazda Global MX5 Cup would slot into second position. Maxson would then have a moment and fall to fifth position in class seeing Chris Haldeman and the #69 X-Factor Racing Honda Civic Si inherit second in the TCA class.

At the start of lap two, leader Michael Hurczyn would go off track at the fast turn 1, handing the lead to Victor Gonzalez and the #99 VGMC Honda Civic Type R TCR. Hurczyn would continue, landing in fourth position. Gonzalez would pull out an eleven second lead over Nate Vincent’s #71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI in second and James Walker’s #34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo Giulietta in third. Gonzalez would control the rest of the race, and go on to claim his second win of the season. “I’m so happy and I know everybody back home is watching the race and are happy too. I have to thank the team and HPD Honda for giving us such a great car, I’m looking forward to one more in Las Vegas!” said Gonzalez.

Two laps later Hurczyn would get past Walker for third and set off for his teammate in second position.

Late in the race Hurczyn would get past Vincent with the FCP Euro teammates finishing second and third overall, with Walker coming home fourth.

With 24 minutes remaining, Haldeman would get past Wittmer for the TCA lead at turn 14. Two minutes later, TCA championship Tyler Maxson would face engine issues and pull into the pits. Maxson would continue a few laps later in the twelfth position, one lap down.

At the 20 minute mark, Haldeman would then have a moment of his own, falling to third, giving Wittmer the class lead and promoting Mat Pombo and the #61 MINI Team JCW MINI Cooper to second.

With 15 minutes remaining, Mat Pombo would power past Wittmer for the TCA class lead with the top three in class running nose to tail. Three minutes later Wittmer would get past Pombo for the lead at the outside of turn 1 with less than a second separating the three TCA class leaders.

Four laps later, Pombo would make a move on the outside of turn 7 around Wittmer and take the class lead with under six minutes remaining in the race. Haldeman would follow Pombo through, demoting Wittmer to third in two corners. On the next lap, Haldeman would go wide at turn 5, giving second place back to Wittmer with only two laps remaining.

On the final lap, Wittmer would sneak past Pombo for the lead at Canada Corner, but Pombo would fall right behind the #91 at turn 14, then win the drag race up the front straight to claim the class victory by a mere one-tenth of a second. “It was a hard fight the whole time and everyone was respectful. On the last lap, I had to lift a little, but luckily Wittmer made a little mistake out of 14, so I was able to go left and drag race up the straight to take the win. It was a great race with Nick [Wittmer] and [Chris} Haldeman. Very fun,” said Pombo.

Taylor Hagler and the #77 X-Factor Racing Honda Civic Si would come home fourth with Stephen Jeu and the #02 X-Factor Racing Honda Civic Si fifth in class.

Bryan Putt and the #15 Bsport Racing Audi RS3 LMS would claim the TCR Cup win, finishing fifth overall.

TC America’s TCR and TCA classes will next be in action for the final two rounds of the 2019 season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway October 18th – 20th.

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PROVISIONAL RESULTS – PDF Link

TCR Talk Reviews: 2019 TC America – Watkins Glen

Race 1

TC America Race 1 was held under the late afternoon sun at Watkins Glen International with Michael McCann Jr and his #3 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS leading the field to the green flag.  At turn 1 to start the race, championship leader Michael Hurczyn would get his #71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI around the #34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo of James Walker to grab third position.  A few corners later, Mason Filippi and the #12 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N would leap past McCann for the lead, just prior to a full course caution being called for a heavy incident by Nick Wittmer’s #91 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS just two minutes into the forty minute event.

The race went back to green with 22 minutes left on the clock with Filippi leading McCann in TCR and Tyler Maxson in the #74 Copeland Motorsports Mazda MX5 Cup leading Mark Pombo’s #59 MINI Cooper JCW in TCA.

Heading into the bus stop with 19 minutes remaining, McCann was able to slip past Filippi for the TCR lead with the top five running within 1 second of each other.  McCann would slowly draw away from the rest of the field and go on to take his first TCR win of the season.

At the same time, Mark Pombo was able to get past Maxson going into the bus stop and take the lead in TCA.  Pombo would never look back and go on to take the class victory, his second of the season.  Behind Pombo the TCA class would finish with Maxson in second and Taylor Hagler third in the #77 X-Factor Racing Honda Civic Si.

With 13 minutes left on the clock, Nate Vincent and his #72 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI was able to get past both Hurczyn and Filippi to claim second position.  Shortly after, championship leader Hurczyn would follow Vincent past Filippi for third.  With under 2 minutes remaining Hurczyn would make his run at Vincent, but came just short and had to settle for the final podium position.

The TCR Cup victory would go to the #41 TWOth Autosport Audi RS3 LMS of Travis Hill with the #18 EXR Team by Premat Audi RS3 LMS of Stephen Vajda second and Christian Cole in the #27 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS third.


Race 2

TCR championship leader Michael Hurczyn and his #71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI lead the TC America field to the green flag with race 1 winner, Michael McCann Jr and the #3 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS, quickly moving past Nate Vincent in the #72 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI for second place.  James Walker and the #34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo would also slip by Mason Filippi’s #12 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N for fourth.  Filippi would need to pit for a mechanical issue a few minutes later, essentially ending his race.

With 27 minutes remaining, Michael McCann Jr would take the lead after slip-streaming past Hurczyn going into the bus stop and instantly gap the field, pulling a 1.2 second lead.  McCann would go on to cruise to the overall victory, his second of the weekend.  “It was a really good weekend.  The Audi had really good pace, especially in a straight line.  The guys got the car ready and we made it happen!” said McCann.

In TCA, Mark Pombo and the #59 MINI Cooper JCW would lead from the start with Nate Norenberg in the #60 MINI Cooper JCW in second, Tomas Mejia in the #62 MINI Cooper JCW third with Tyler Maxson and the #74 Copeland Motorsports Mazda MX5 Cup fourth.  Taylor Hagler, who spun on lap 1 and fell to the back of the grid, would fight her way back through the field and find herself fifth in class with 20 minutes remaining.

Maxson would get past Mejia for third with 19 minutes left on the clock and would start his pursuit of Norenberg for second.  With 11 minutes left in the race, Maxson would catch and pass Norenberg going into turn 1 while Mejia would get past Norenberg on the next lap.  Later in the lap both Norenberg and Halger would suffer flat tires and retire.

Mark Pombo would control the TCA field and go on to take the class win with Tyler Maxson second, and Tomas Mejia third.  “Early in the season we had some trouble with the MINIs, but the guys at LAP Motorsports have really found something with the car and this weekend has saved our season,” said Pombo.  PJ Groenke in the #44 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS and Sally McNulty in the #780 TEAMSALLY Honda Civic Si would round out the top 5.

TCR Cup saw the #41 TWOTh Autosport Audi RS3 LMS of Travis Hill grab his second win of the weekend with Stephen Vajda and the #18 EXR Team by Premat Audi RS3 LMS finishing second and Christian Cole in the #27 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS third.

The TC America TCR/TCA classes will next be in action September 20th-22nd at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

TCR Talk Review: 2019 TC America – Sonoma

Race 1

Gonzalez Takes Shock TC America TCR Victory at Sonoma Raceway

Mason Filippi took the TCR field to the green flag in the #12 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR and would lead for most of the race until championship leader Michael Hurczyn in the #71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI would make a daring pass on the outside of turn 1 over the Filippi-driven Hyundai for the lead with under 10 minutes to go.

With 8 minutes remaining Nate Vincent in the #72 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI and Filippi would then make contact at the final hairpin while fighting for second position, allowing the stalking Victor Gonzalez in the #99 VGMC Honda Civic Type-R to slip into second place.  James Walker would also pounce to claim third in his #34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo.  Vincent would salvage fourth position with Filippi coming home fifth.  Filippi will start Sunday’s race 2 from pole.

With only 47 seconds remaining, Gonzalez would chase down Hurczyn and make a diving pass for the lead into the final hairpin and go on to take the TCR win.  “I’m so happy.  We’re such a small team from Orlando and we did not know what to expect this weekend,” an excited Gonzalez added,  “We knew our setup would allow us to come on later in the race, so I saved the tires until the halfway point of the race and then went for it.  I have to thank HPD, the series, our partners, and LA Honda for letting us borrow some extra parts, we could not have done this without them!”

In TCR Cup Bryan Putt, in the #15 eEuroparts.com Rowe Racing Audi RS3 LMS, would leapfrog Stephen Vajda and the #18 EXR Team by Premat Audi for the lead with 17 minutes remaining to score his third class victory of the season, finishing sixth overall, and expand his championship lead.  Vadja would fall to third with Christin Cole in the #27 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS coming home second.


Race 2

Filippi Dominates TCR Race 2 at Sonoma; Maxson Sweeps in TCA

Mason Filippi and the #12 Copeland Motorsport Hyundai Veloster N brought the grid to the green flag for the final TC America race of the weekend at Sonoma Raceway under warm and sunny skies.  After a difficult race 1, Filippi would dominate race 2 to take his third win in 2019.

Just three minutes into the race saw the first full course caution as the #02 X-Factor Honda Civic Si of Stephen Jeu hit the wall coming out of turn 7.  The race would restart with 28 minutes on the clock and would see championship leader Nick Wittmer in the #91 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ move up to 6th after starting 14th.

The second full course caution of the day would be called just minutes later after the #24 TechSport Subaru of Robert Crocker came to a halt at the final hairpin, suffering his second DNF of the weekend.

The race would restart with 17 minutes to go and Filippi would gap his FCP Euro rivals of Michael Hurczyn and Nate Vincent by 1.2 seconds by the end of the lap.  Filippi would never look back and continue to pull away, grabbing the TCR win.  “Complete redemption after yesterday,” said Filippi, “The racing was great, it was clean and a lot of fun to be out here at Sonoma Raceway.  We started on pole and won, so I’m looking forward to the next race.

Race 1 winner Victor Gonzalez started from fourth and would have a race-long game of cat and mouse with Vincent in the #72 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI for third.  With four minutes to go, Gonzalez would stuff his #99 VGMC Honda Civic Type-R on the inside of the #72 and move into the third position.

With under 1 minute to go, Gonzalez would then bump past the #71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI of Michael Hurczyn at the turn 9 chicane to claim second position.

The TCR grid would finish Filippi, Gonzalez, Hurczyn, Vincent, with the #34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo of James Walker rounding out the top five.

Bryan Putt in the #15 eEuroparts. Rowe Racing Audi RS3 LMS would take the TCR Cup win, his second of the weekend, finishing sixth overall.

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.