TCR Talk: The Brits racing abroad in 2020

With the new year underway in very strange and different circumstances due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, the TCR Talk blog will continue to follow British drivers racing overseas during the 2020 season of TCR Competition.

This was a series that we began last year, following the progress of the various British drivers racing in TCR Series abroad.

TCR Talk: The Brits Abroad – 2019

Credit: TCR Japan

2019 saw three British drivers racing in TCR Series abroad, who was not involved in both the TCR Europe Touring Car Series and The FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR):

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.

TCR Talk: The Brits Abroad – 2020!

Rob Huff at Macau in 2019. Credit: Clement Marin / DPPI

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. These details are based on confirmations made before the the Covid-19 global pandemic forced all Motorsport and Sport in general to come to a halt

2020 will see the following British drivers racing in TCR Series abroad:

Macau King Rob Huff announced over the winter that he was not able to secure a seat on the WTCR grid for 2020, which in my mind is a big loss for the series. However, the British driver will be involved in racing activities in 2020.

Huff has signed for the Lestrup Racing Team, who are returning to the STCC / TCR Scandinavia series this year after a break away competing in Endurance racing. Whilst this may seem to be an odd move, STCC / TCR Scandinavia is one of the more competitive domestic series and Huffy will be up against it.

TCR Talk will monitor his progress with interest.

Daniel Lloyd in the Brutal Fish Racing Honda in TCR Malaysia. Credit: TCR Malaysia/Ying Ching Heng

Daniel Lloyd returned to compete in a full-time campaign in the TCR Malaysia Touring Car Series, where he drove for the Brutal Fish Racing team in a Honda Civic Type R FK7.

The 2018 TCR UK Champion went on to finish the season as runner up after leading the series early on, taking one race win. Lloyd will return to action for the team for his second season in the TCR Europe Touring Car Series where he will once again join Team Owner Martin Ryba.

The team will be running three cars in TCR Europe with the third driver to be announced later on. Lloyd also competed in TCR China Touring Car Championship, where he drove for the MacPro Racing team last year, however, there has been no confirmation yet if he will return.

British fans will need to look towards Asia to follow the progress of 2019 TCR Europe Drivers Champion Josh Files this year. After a successful campaign in Europe with Hyundai, the British driver will remain with the Korean marque for 2020.

Josh Files in the Solite Indigo Racing Hyundai in TCR Malaysia. Credit: TCR Malaysia/Ying Ching Heng

Files has already begun his Asian Odyssey this year by running in a partial entry of the TCR Malaysia Touring Car Series. The British driver competed in a familiar Hyundai i30 N TCR for the Solite Indigo Racing squad in rounds three and four before moving to a Veloster N TCR for the final two races.

Files will remain with the team as they take on a full season of the 2020 TCR Asia International Series.

These are the three confirmed British drivers who will be racing abroad in 2020 and TCR Talk will also be keeping track of any other British drivers who will race in foreign TCR Series.

Of course, it’s very clear that all of these confirmations were announced before the lockdown period for Covid-19 took place and please be assured that TCR Talk is monitoring the situation for when we can potentially return to a time where Motorsport and more specifically, TCR Series can return to action.

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!!!

2016 TCR Asia Series: South Korea…

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As well as giving the ADAC TCR Germany series its own focus on the blog during 2016, the Tintop Guru Blog will also do the same for the 2016 TCR Asia Series as it enters its second season of competition.

Heres how the first weekend in South Korea worked out…

TCR ASIA KICKS OFF-SEASON TWO IN SOUTH KOREA

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In 2015, TCR Asia was the first regional series to embrace the new concept and ran successfully over four events, with three of them (Singapore, Thailand and Macau) run together with the International Series. Hong Kong’s Michael Choi was crowned the first champion in a Honda Civic of Prince Racing.

The 2016 season will start at the Korea International Circuit with a strong field of entries that includes a number of the leading Asian Touring Car drivers. Eleven cars were entered for the opening round.

The strongest combination appears to be that of the Liqui Moly Team Engstler VW Golf GTI cars, driven by multiple China Touring Car champion Andy Yan and Macau’s Filipe de Souza. The Volkswagen brand will also be represented by TeamWork Motorsport, with Kevin Tse and Hong-Kong-based American Bill O’Brien. 2015 race winner Tin Sritrai will switch from SEAT to a Honda Civic campaigned by Team Thailand, whilst Henry Ho – who was a strong campaigner at Macau at the end of last year – returns in a Honda for Champ Motorsports alongside Michael Ho.
The field will be completed by three SEAT cars: Douglas Khoo of Viper Niza Racing and RoadStar Racing’s Terence Tse and Cheong Yu.

TIN SRITRAI CLAIMS POLE IN TCR ASIA OPENING

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Tin Sritrai and his Team Thailand Honda Civic have claimed the first pole position of the season in the TCR Asia Series.

At Yeongam’s Korea International Circuit, the Thai driver had already topped the time sheet in yesterday’s three testing sessions and this morning’s first practice. During qualifying Sritrai posted a fastest lap of 2:22.714 in Q1 and then significantly improved him in Q2, clocking a 2:21.137 that was by far the fastest of the field and granted him pole position for tomorrow’s Race 1.

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Two Volkswagen drivers qualified in second and third: Kevin Tse of TeamWork Motorsport (2:22.295) and Andy Yan of Liqui Moly Team Engstler (2:22.856), while Henry Ho placed his Champ Motorsport Honda Civic in fourth (2:23.006).

The first SEAT León was the Viper Niza Racing’s driven by Roelof Bruins, fifth with a lap of 2:23.489.

ROELOF BRUINS WINS TCR ASIA OPENING RACE

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Viper Niza Racing’s Roeolof Bruins claimed victory in the opening race of the 2016 TCR Asia Series at Yeongam’s Korea International Circuit.

In the first half of the race, the Korean driver and its SEAT León chased the leading pair of Andy Yan (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf Gti) and pole-sitter Tin Sritrai (Team Thailand Honda Civic).

During the first six laps, the three drivers delivered a close and entertaining fight with their cars running within only half-a-second; then on lap 7 Bruins overtook Sritrai for the second place with a controversial manoeuvre that caused the Thai to spin. The contact was investigated by the Stewards who, eventually, judged it as a normal race incident.

In the final part of the 14-lap race, Bruins closed the gap on Yan and eventually overtook him midway through the last lap. Yan finished second, followed by Henry Ho (Champ Motorsport Honda Civic) and Sritrai.

TCR ASIA: SRITRAI STRIKES BACK IN RACE 2

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Tin Sritrai of Team Thailand made up for a disappointing first race and claimed a dominant victory in the TCR Asia second round at Yeongam’s Korea International Circuit.

Terence Tse (Roadstar Racing SEAT León) and Filipe de Souza (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf Gti) took the start from the front row on the top-eight reverse grid, but it was Roelof Bruins, the Race 1 winner in the Viper Niza Racing SEAT, who took the lead from Michael Ho (Champ Motorsport Honda Civic), with Sritrai’s Honda in third place.

During the first lap Sritrai overtook Michael Ho, while the second Champ Motorsport Honda of Henry Ho slowed down, handing fourth place to Andy Yan (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf Gti). Soon, the same trio that had battled for Race 1 victory – Bruins, Sritrai and Yan – was against fighting for the top positions.

On lap 4, Sritrai stole the lead from Bruins and began to pull away, while the Korean driver found himself chased by Yan. On lap 6, Yan took second position and for the rest of the race he successfully defended it from Bruins’ attacks.

Sritrai took the chequered flag, with Yan and Bruins claiming the other podium results. Kevin Tse finished fourth, ahead of de Souza and a recovering Henry Ho.
The championship standings after the first event see Sritrai leading with 42 points ahead of Bruins (41) and Yan (39).

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The next race meeting will take place at Buriram’s Chang International Circuit, Thailand on June 11 and 12.

Until next time, All the best!!

Phil!!!

Macau: Whats the Attraction?

Every year, tens of thousands of fans flock to the Macau Street Circuit in mid November to watch the best drivers and teams bid for glory from four different disciplines of racing: Touring Cars, Formula 3, Superbikes and GT Sportscars.

So whats the attraction?

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For many motorsport fans, a series that holds a regular event on a street circuit each year holds a special level of attraction. The skills needed to guide a Touring Car or Sportscar or Single Seater through the tight confines of a street circuit as fast as possible, as close to the armco/concrete barriers as possible often brings the most reward to the best drivers

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The Monaco Grand Prix and to a certain aspect The Singapore Grand Prix, hold high regard in Formula One. For Sportscars its the combined Street circuit & Racing circuit nature of Le Mans.

For Touring Cars, there are a few to choose from. Bathurst for the Australian V8 Supercars, for the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship it was Gothenburg whilst the DTM has the Norisring.

But Macau stands out above the rest.

Up until last year, Macau was the Finale for the FIA World Touring Car Championship and from this year its the Finale for the TCR International Series & the TCR Asia Series. In 2015 there will be 30 entries for the two TCR races.

Here some previous Macau Guia Touring Car Winners from different era’s…

Group A:
Hans-Joachim Stuck
Tom Walkinshaw
Gianfranco Brancatelli
Johnny Cecotto
Roberto Ravaglia
Tim Harvey
Emanuele Pirro

SuperTouring:
Joachim Winkelhock
Kelvin Burt
Frank Biela
Steve Soper

Super2000/WTCC:
Augusto Farfus
Rob Huff
Andy Priaulx
Yvan Muller
Alain Menu
Norbert Michelisz

As you can see, some of the finest Tintop drivers have triumphed there…

I will also point out that a win at Macau is not only important to Touring Car drivers. Winning the Macau Formula Three Grand Prix is a big achievement for single seater drivers aspiring to reach the highest height of the single seater ladder: Formula One. Winning this race raises the stock of a driver in his career and often proves a driver will go on to have an illustrious career.

To prove the point, here are a few names of some former Macau F3 Grand Prix that some of you might recognise…

Ayrton Senna
David Brabham
Michael Schumacher
Mauricio Gugelmin
David Coulthard
Ralf Schumacher
Takuma Sato

Some of the best Formula One drivers to have raced in the sport…

But why do so many drivers and riders seek glory on the streets of the former Portuguese Colony?

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In some respects, its the nature of the circuit. It combines a very fast section that begins at “R Bend” continues through the awesome Mandarin bend and which finishes at the infamous “Lisboa” corner. Touring Cars will almost reach 150mph along this stretch before heavy braking into the 90 degree right hander and then add in the factor that often you’ll have drivers race to Lisboa either two or three cars wide, jockeying for position and you can understand the danger and the thrill.

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Hell, the amount of door mirrors lost as the drivers push the limits and get as close as possible to the edge is amazing.

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The next part of the layout is more tricky. After Lisboa comes San Francisco and the steady climb up the hill to Maternity. The left right combination is infamous for seeing attempted overtaking passes. I still recall watching Pepe Oriola try to pass Tom Chilton in an identical Chevrolet Cruze in the first 2013 FIA WTCC race, only for contact to damage Chiltons car. In the second race, Oriola attempted to pass James Thompson in the Lada Granta in the same spot, with identical results, seeing Thompson retire…

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But its still possible to pass…

The whole time during the tight and twisty section that follows onto the Solitude Esses and down Faraway Hill is a high speed challenge to thread the needle whilst dancing as close as you dare to the concrete walls. Theres one racing line here and any deviation will lead to the end of your race. Stick to the grip and don’t stray from the racing line.

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After Faraway Hill follows Moorish Hill, a short straight that leads to a sharp second gear 90 degree right hander where there is plenty of tyre barriers around you. A good clean exit from here leads to a fast sector time but the next challenge of the Donna Maria Bend awaits. Like every lap in every race at any circuit, you need the perfect line to set the best time and getting the line right through Donna Maria adds to the challenge.

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Taking as much speed as you dare through this left hander leads you onto the Iconic Melco Hairpin.

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Normally at any circuit, Street or Permanent, a hairpin is an overtaking oppurtunity. But not at Macau. During the Macau Event, permanent waved yellow flags are in operation due to the fact that whilst the entrance is wide enough for two cars, the exit narrows dramatically to only allow one car out the otherside. Its narrow but racing safely allows racing to continue.

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The lap is almost done now. You put your foot down and get the car/bike accelerating as quick as you can on ghe short run to Fishermans and then the next short run back through R Bend.

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For Superbike riders, the danger is not only the speed but how close they can ride against the wall. Helmets have grazed concrete, knee pads have scraped armco barriers at incredible speeds and life hangs in the blance whilst talent keeps the bike under control.

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For Touring Car drivers, a slip on track can lead to a terrifying accident that can cause a race stopping pile up… and it often has. But again that talent has also seen drivers glide cars out of Mandarin at 140mph and then overtake into Lisboa whilst twitching under heavy braking.

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For Formula Three drivers, its the skill of keeping a speeding projectile thats often setup in a low downforce profile, off the walls and dancing as close to the barriers as possible whilst going as fast as they can. Guiding a lightweight car through the twists and turns of the Guia circuit is a skill alone… To go fastest opens up a bigger talent. A win in the Macau Grand Prix often brings a large reward thats bigger and more rewarding than just the race win itself. It csn also be career changing.

By the way, I’ll happily admit, I’ve got goosebumps writing this…

Thats what Macau does to me and I’ve only watched it on TV since 2004…

Nope, I’ve never been to Macau. Its on the bucketlist though. However the respect you have for the drivers that race there is amazing. I’ve included a link here for a video of Rob Huffs fastest lap during race two of the 2014 FIA WTCC weekend. He won that race in the Lada Granta Sport TC1 car with a 1.6 litre turbo petrol engine.

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Never mind the noise…keep an eye on how close Huffy gets to the barrier and walls. Thats commitment from a 7 time Macau race winner. The video itself is on Huffy’s Youtube page.

Now you’ll notice a few British names on the winners lists earlier in this post. Quite simply, Macau can be a good luck charm for British drivers. Andy Priaulx won all three of his FIA WTCC titles on these streets as did Rob Huff. But if you look at the names on all those lists, there are some of the most legendary Tintop drivers ever that have taken the top step.

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I’ll be honest for a moment. I love watching tintops racing at Macau. I also love the TCR series that have begun this year. But earlier on in 2015 there was talk of potentially seeing a contingent of BTCC Teams and drivers in what would have been a flyaway race. A cracking idea in my opinion but I realise that cost, transport, budgets etc make this impossible.

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However the 2015 TCR International Series Grand Finale sees Rob Huff looking for his eighth victory in Macau as he drives a very colourful WestCoast Racing Honda Civic whilst James Nash returns since WTCC days in a Proteam Ford Focus & Renault Clio ace Josh Files makes his debut in a Campos Racing Opel Astra.

Theres added BTCC interest this year as former Team Hard/Rotek Racing/Handy Motorsport driver Robb Holland contests the event in a Roadstar Racing SEAT Leon whilst former BTCC star Gianni Morbidelli has contested the enter TCR season for WestCoast Racing.

Its good to see the Brits back in Macau.

Add in the rule change for TCR that sees the Race Two grid set by the finishing order of Race One and who knows… Huffy could take wins 8 & 9…

As the saying goes… “Anything can happy at Macau…”

For me, getting up at 4am on a Sunday morning in late November, sitting on the sofa covered by a blanket with a hot cup of tea, cheering the British WTCC Drivers on and watching many FIA WTCC Titles being decided on a knife edge atmosphere is amazing and I look forward to what is the Blue Riband event that is the Macau Grand Prix each year.

So, as I asked at the beginning…
What is the attraction of Macau?

Quite simply, the thrill, the excitement and the atmosphere. For a driver, if you can win there, you are one of the best drivers in the world and well on your way to glory. You are the best of the best in your field. The racing is exciting and the risk is high but the reward is worth it all.

Thats why Motorsport fans love Macau.

Until next time, All the best!

Phil!!!

2015 TCR Asia International Series: Sepang

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TCR ASIA SERIES LAUNCHES INTO 2015 SEASON

The Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia will play host to the birth of an exciting new era in Asian motorsport this weekend, with the debut of the new TCR Asia Series.

Asia has played an integral role in the development of the successful new Touring Car concept, as the host of the opening rounds of the 2015 International Series which began six months ago at the very same venue.

The TCR Asia Series will also contribute to the closing rounds of the 2015 International Series, with the final three events of the TCR Asia Series – Singapore, Thailand and Macau – also playing host to the final three rounds of the International Series.

For David Sonenscher, the TCR Asia Series promoter and the Asian region’s representative of WSC Ltd, the Sepang event is the culmination of almost 12-months worth of hard work.

“We’re finally here,” Sonenscher acknowledged with a broad smile. “We don’t just have a great field to start the season, but we continue to field enquiries every day about how teams and drivers can get involved in TCR.”

“I have to thank those teams that have made the commitment to be here this weekend. There have been a few logistical challenges in getting cars ready ahead of Sepang – in fact there are parts still coming to complete a couple of the cars, that’s how tight it has been, but the feeling in the pits is fantastic, everyone’s upbeat about what’s coming, not the least me!”

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The successful Seat León TCR cars have been the pace-setters through much of the TCR International Series, with the Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL team currently leading the championship. They too will have a presence in Sepang, but not with the team’s popular local star Frank Yu who campaigned the car back in March, but Eric K. a rising young star from Hong Kong who has been handed the keys of the #99 ‘Hulk’..

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Hong Kong’s Prince Racing were one of the first to signal their interest in the TCR Asia Series project, and armed with two brand new JAS Motorsport-built Honda Civic TCR’s, and support from JAS themselves, both Kenneth Lau and Michael Choi are expected to be right in the mix with the leaders.

But like any new project, it will take time for teams to gel with their new machines, and for drivers to understand the machinations of their new cars, something which already has drivers talking.

“It’s certainly different to what I’ve experienced with all my years of GT cars and open-wheelers,” Roadstar Racing Team driver Samson Chan admitted.

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For others though, the Touring Car philosophy was nothing particularly new, something which Hong Kong’s Andy Yan displayed only too well in official practice #2, shadowing the Asia Racing Team’s Philippe Descombes early in the session, taking the all-new FRD HK Racing Team Ford Focus to within two tenths of Descombes’ best.

That result was perhaps no surprise to fans of the China Touring Car Championship, a category in which Yan is the reigning champion and current points leader in his Ford Focus, whilst team-leader Kenneth Ma has been responsible for the development of the CTCC Ford’s, taking his Changan Ford Racing Team to six of the last eight CTCC titles.

Ma is scheduled to join Yan this weekend, however a delay with customs has slowed the delivery of the team’s second Mountune-built engine, which was going to power the first FRD-built Focus, the Yan car having been originally delivered by Onyx in the UK.

“It’s funny how things go,” Ma admitted. “We were so keen to have the first of our FRD-built cars on track, but there’s not much we can do without an engine, so we’ll make sure Andy has the chance to show what the car can do, and we’ll ensure that if we are unable to make the grid for qualifying, that the second car will be more than ready for Singapore in two weeks.”

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By the close of the two official practice sessions it was Descombes who set the pace with a blistering time in practice #1, the Frenchman ultimately keeping himself on top of the timesheets with the #14 Seat León in session two, with Yan second overall.

Third was local Malaysian driver Kenny Lee who missed unofficial practice in the local Seat León, the Sepang regular – a winner of the Sepang 1000km back in 2010 – showed the value of his immense local knowledge, to topple the leading Honda Civic of Kenneth Lau.

Lau is another driver with a strong Touring car background, the 2010 Hong Kong Touring Car champion enjoying the chance to gain valuable extra miles in the Prince Racing Honda Civic, sharing the experience with Michael Choi, who himself enjoys a long history in Asian competition, the Hong Kong-based driver recently finishing on the podium in a Lamborghini Super Trofeo on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Like the Prince Racing Team, Hong Kong’s Roadstar Racing Team were taking their time to get acclimatised with their trio of Seat Leóns, with Masahiko Ida setting the early pace for the team, the Japanese driver though ultimately dropped back behind team-mate Filipe Souza in the second session.

There were two non-starters in official practice, ART’s Rodolfo Avila who took a leave of absence for a minor health issue, but is expected to return to push team-mate Descombes in qualifying, whilst Kenneth Ma was unable to make a start whilst waiting for his engine to clear customs.

The three 10-lap TCR Asia Series races were streamed live via the TCR Asia Series website http://www.asia.tcr-series.com with internationally renowned commentator Jonathon Green calling the shots!

Round #1 – 2015 TCR Asia Series

Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Combined times official practice (4 September, 2015)

1. 14. Philippe Descombes [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 2:20.659 [P1]

2. 63. Andy Yan [HKG] (FRD HK Racing team Ford Focus TCR) – 2:22.271 [P2]

3. 83. Kenny Lee [MAS] (Wing Hin Seat León) – 2:22.531 [P2]

4. 38. Kenneth Lau [HKG] (Prince Racing Honda Civic TCR) – 2:22.940 [P2]

5. 66. Filipe Souza [MAC] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 2:23.522 [P2]

6. 99. Eric K. [HKG] (Craft-Bamboo Racing Seat León) – 2:23.544 [P2]

7. 68. Michael Choi [HKG] (Prince Racing Honda Civic TCR) – 2:23.936 [P2]

8. 78. Masahiko Ida [JPN] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 2:25.771 [P1]

9. 56. Samson Chan [HKG] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 2:26.062 [P2]

10. Rodolfo Avila [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – NTR

11. Kenneth Ma [HKG] (FRD HK Racing team Ford Focus TCR) – NTR

RODOLFO AVILA TAKES VICTORY FOR ART IN FIRST EVER TCR ASIA SERIES RACE AT SEPANG

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Asia Racing Team’s Rodolfo Avila and Philippe Descombes scored an emphatic 1-2 during the historic opening event for the new TCR Asia Series at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia after qualifying their cars on the front row of the grid.

The two SEAT León cars of the Macau-based team had dominated qualifying earlier in the morning, with Avila turning his first real laps in qualifying after missing Friday practice due to illness, the Macanese driver setting a pole time of 2:19.363 in the opening session just 17 one hundredths ahead of team-mates Descombes. Descombes returned the favour in Q2 though, switching the tables on his team-mate, in the process lowering the new benchmark to 2:19.335.

Highlighting perfectly just how competitive the new TCR Asia Series cars are, both laps were actually three tenths of a second faster than Kevin Gleason’s pole time in the Honda back when the TCR International Series qualified at Sepang for their opening round back in March.

Sadly though for Avila, he struggled to get off the line from pole during the first standing start dropping back as far as sixth on the run down to the first turn.

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That was all the incentive that FRD HK Racing team’s Andy Yan needed, the reigning China Touring Car Champion forging his way through to the lead before once again fate intervened with the team’s intermittent electrical issue returning, forcing him to a stop out on the circuit.

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Kenneth Lau too was in the mix early, forcing his way through to the tail of Descombes who had taken over the lead, but both he and Descombes were taken by Avila in one move as they battled for position, before Lau ultimately ran wide in an effort to take back his position, dropping back into the clutches of Eric K, Michael Choi and the fast starting Samson Chan.

Behind the leading trio local star Kenny Lee was taking advantage of his strong qualifying position to move onto the tail of the leaders before he too became unstuck in a battle with Samson Chan and Eric K. into turn two, the local Wing Hin Motorsports driver diving inside Chan into two, but he was unable to make the move stick, turning Chan around as the Roadstar driver turned into the apex of the corner.

Chan recovered, but it was game over for Kenny Lee, the impact robbing local fans of another great run through the field on Sunday after the team was unable to source parts to repair the car after the contact.

Chan though wasn’t the only Roadstar Racing Team member enduring a tough start to his TCR Asia Series career, Ida too was strong early, running just off the tail of the leaders before coming off into the gravel, which dropped him right back down the order.

As the laps wound down Kenneth Lau moved back into contention, taking Eric K. for fourth position, but up front it was all ART, Rodolfo Avila punching out an impressive 2:10.140 late in the session before slowing to join Descombes in a formation finish for the Macau-based operation.

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Michael Choi and Kenneth Lau made it a Honda 3-4 finish, with former Hong Kong Touring Car champion Eric K. claiming an impressive fifth on his return to motorsport after a three year sabbatical.

Rnd#1 – 2015 TCR Asia Series

Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Qualifying#1 (5 September, 2015)

1. 15. Rodolfo Avila [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 2:19.363

2. 14. Philippe Descombes [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 2:19.553

3. 63. Andy Yan [HKG] (FRD HK Racing Team Ford Focus TCR) – 2:20.797

4. 83. Kenny Lee [MAS] (Wing Hin Motorsports Seat León) – 2:21.064

5. 38. Kenneth Lau [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR) – 2:21.638

6. 68. Michael Choi [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR) – 2:21.653

7. 66. Filipe Souza [MAC] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 2:22.009

8. 78. Masahiko Ida [JPN] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 2:22.281

9. 99. Eric K. [HKG] (Craft-Bamboo Racing Seat León) – 2:22.585

10. 56. Samson Chan [HKG] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 2:23.780

Qualifying#2 (5 September, 2015)

1. 14. Philippe Descombes [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 2:19.335

2. 15. Rodolfo Avila [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 2:20.698

3. 68. Michael Choi [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR) – 2:21.060

4. 38. Kenneth Lau [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR) – 2:21.095

5. 83. Kenny Lee [MAS] (Wing Hin Motorsports Seat León) – 2:21.775

6. 56. Samson Chan [HKG] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 2:21.823

7. 99. Eric K. [HKG] (Craft-Bamboo Racing Seat León) – 2:21.984

8. 66. Filipe Souza [MAC] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 2:22.366

9. 78. Masahiko Ida [JPN] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 2:22.479

10. 63. Andy Yan [HKG] (FRD HK Racing Team Ford Focus TCR) – 2:28.893

Race#1 (5 September, 2015)

1. 15. Rodolfo Avila [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 10-laps

2. 14. Philippe Descombes [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León)

3. 68. Michael Choi [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR)

4. 38. Kenneth Lau [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR)

5. 99. Eric K. [HKG] (Craft-Bamboo Racing Seat León)

6. 56. Samson Chan [HKG] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León)

7. 78. Masahiko Ida [JPN] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León)

8. 66. Filipe Souza [MAC] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 9-laps

DNF. 63. Andy Yan [HKG] (FRD HK Racing Team Ford Focus TCR) – 5-laps

DNF. 83. Kenny Lee [MAS] (Wing Hin Seat León) – 4-laps

DESCOMBES COMPLETES TRIFECTA FOR ART AT SEPANG

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After dominating qualifying and the opening race of the history making first event on the TCR Asia Series calendar, Asia Racing Team’s Philippe Descombes completed the trifecta for the team, with two dominant wins on the final day of competition at Sepang to give the Macau-based Seat León operation a strong lead in the points heading to Singapore.

Due to his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia commitments, race one winner Rodolfo Ávila was replaced by Macau’s Liu Lic Ka, a former World Touring Car entrant who happened to be in Sepang and tempted to sample the new TCR Seat after watching Avila’s strong victory.

Ultimately it was the Seat León that would dominate the event, with the two Prince Racing Hong Kong Hondas putting in cameos at the front of the field, whilst the FRD Ford HK Racing Team showed that once sorted, they will have a race winning contender on their hands with Chinese Touring Car star Andy Yan really spicing up the action in the early laps of all three races.

Race#2 

After crossing the line second to team-mate Avila in race one, Philippe Descombes was determined to make a success of his return to competition after a three year break, and the Frenchman didn’t disappoint, charging off the line to lead into turn one.

Michael Choi got the jump on team-mate Kenneth Lau off the line and followed Descombes through the turn one-two complex, whilst behind them, Samson Chan’s tough weekend continued after being turned around on the exit of turn two.

Off rear of field, Andy Yan was on a charge, closing in on the battle for third between Choi and Eric K. on the opening lap before the intermittent issue that had stopped him in every prior session once again intervened, and he was forced to return to the pits and retirement.

He wasn’t the only one forced to return to the pits, although Kenneth Lau only did so after failing to see the drive-through penalty he was being given for a start infringement, ultimately though he saw the black flag, hitting the pit lane to be disqualified from the result.

Ten seconds up by mid-race, Descombes cruised to the line to win by more than 16-seconds from a delighted Michael Choi, with Eric K. taking a well deserved third for Craft-Bamboo Racing. Filipe Souza was a solid fourth for the Roadstar Racing team, leading home team-mates Masahiko Ida and Samson Chan.

Race#3

Descombes once again led the field into turn one with Michael Choi, Eric K., Samson Chan and Andy Yan following him through to turn two.

Yan once again was quickly through the pack and up to second, but once more the car suffered from electrical gremlins, allowing Choi back into second, from Samson Chan, the Craft-Bamboo Seat of Eric K. and Souza.

Eric K. made it through on Chan, as the two team-mates made contact into turn two which started a great battle between the pair before Chan made heavy contact with Souza off the exit of turn four, Souza slowing suddenly leaving Chan with nowhere to go, the contact ultimately turning his team-mate around.

Souza was unable to continue with damage to the right rear bodywork which started rubbing on the wheel, whilst Chan was handed – perhaps harshly – a drive-through penalty, but like Yau in race one, he’d missed the instruction and was later disqualified as a result of not returning to pits, completing what had been a frustrating debut for the Hong Kong veteran.

Sadly Michael Choi was also forced to retire early with a niggling mechanical issue, handing Eric K. second, whilst up front Descombes continued to punch out laps in the mid-2:21s to open up a gap of over 30-seconds by the time the chequered flag was displayed, with the consistent Craft-Bamboo Seat second, whilst the third Roadstar Seat of Masahiko Ida claimed third place overall.

Liu Lic Ka claimed fourth in the second of the ART Seats, but ultimately the weekend belonged to ART.

“We’re very happy with the way the weekend went,” Descombes admitted. “The car was fantastic. This weekend was effectively a glorified test session for us, as the cars arrived just last week, so we decided to push them ourselves to see what they were capable of, and I have to say, they do everything they’re supposed to do perfectly. I think this new TCR concept is exactly what the Asian region needs, it will be a great category.”

Rnd#1 – 2015 TCR Asia Series

Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Qualifying#1 (5 September, 2015)

1. 15. Rodolfo Avila [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 2:19.363

2. 14. Philippe Descombes [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 2:19.553

3. 63. Andy Yan [HKG] (FRD HK Racing Team Ford Focus TCR) – 2:20.797

Qualifying#2 (5 September, 2015)

1. 14. Philippe Descombes [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 2:19.335

2. 15. Rodolfo Avila [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 2:20.698

3. 68. Michael Choi [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR) – 2:21.060

Race#1 (5 September, 2015)

1. 15. Rodolfo Avila [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 10-laps

2. 14. Philippe Descombes [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León)

3. 68. Michael Choi [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR)

Race#2 (6 September, 2015)

1. 14. Philippe Descombes [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 10-laps

2. 68. Michael Choi [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR)

3. 99. Eric K. [HKG] (Craft-Bamboo Racing Seat León)

4. 66. Filipe Souza [MAC] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León)

5. 78. Masahiko Ida [JPN] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León)

6. 56. Samson Chan [HKG] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León)

7. 30. Liu Lic Ka [MAC] (Asia Racing Team Seat León)

DNF. 63. Andy Yan [HKG] (FRD HK Racing Team Ford Focus TCR) – 4-laps

DNS. 83. Kenny Lee [MAS] (Wing Hin Seat León)

DSQ. 38. Kenneth Lau [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR)

Race#3 (6 September, 2015)

1. 14. Philippe Descombes [FRA] (Asia Racing Team Seat León) – 10-laps

2. 99. Eric K. [HKG] (Craft-Bamboo Racing Seat León)

3. 78. Masahiko Ida [JPN] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León)

4. 30. Liu Lic Ka [MAC] (Asia Racing Team Seat León)

DNF. 66. Filipe Souza [MAC] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León) – 4-laps

DNF. 68. Michael Choi [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR) – 4-laps

DNF. 63. Andy Yan [HKG] (FRD HK Racing Team Ford Focus TCR) – 2-laps

DNF. 38. Kenneth Lau [HKG] (Prince Racing Hong Kong Honda Civic TCR) – 0-laps

DNS. 83. Kenny Lee [MAS] (Wing Hin Seat León)

DSQ. 56. Samson Chan [HKG] (Roadstar Racing Team Seat León)

The 2015 TCR Asia Series – Calendar

4-6 September, Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia.

The TCR Asia Series will now go on to join the The TCR International Series for the final three events at:

Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore on 18-20 September.

Buriram International Circuit, Thailand on 23-25 October.

Guia Circuit, Macau on 20-22 November.

Keep an eye out for further updates regarding The TCR International Series, The TCR Asia Series and the TCR Domestic series due to start in 2016.

Also, if you wish to discuss any topics regarding all things TCR please feel free to join the Facebook Group I have setup for Fans, Drivers and Team members alike. The link is TCR International Talk

Until next time!

All the best!

Phil!!

(All images supplied by TCR Asia Series)