2017 TCR Europe Trophy Adria: The Guru’s Thoughts…

So the second running of the TCR Europe Trophy happened several weeks ago at the Adria International Raceway in Italy and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it! Here are the Guru’s thoughts on the weekends activities…

After the 2016 running of TCR Europe Trophy took the format of drivers competing in seven different events that were also Domestic TCR series weekends, the decision was made to give the Trophy a one off weekend for 2017.

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Not a bad idea in my opinion and I now quite a few of the members in my TCR Talk facebook groups likened it to how the European Touring Car Cup used to run for a while and also as far back as the original FIA Touring Car Challenge/World Cup events back in 1993 and 1994.

As usual there were a few talking point from over the weekend and here are the Guru’s thoughts on them…

The Entry List…

With the entry requirements for the 2017 Trophy being that a driver had taken part in at least one TCR event during the year (International and/or Domestic), I for one hoped for quite a large entry with the maximum figure being 32.

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However 24 isn’t a bad number either… In fact it better that what some single-seater and tin-top World Championships can muster on a normal weekend…

Some of Europe’s best were there to see if they could secure the prize but what came to my attention were the ones who didn’t appear but still qualified to be at Adria.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Having competed in the qualifying round of the TCR International Series, I was looking forward to seeing how the likes of Jens Reno Møller, Stian Paulsen and Milovan Mikica Vesnić who were the mainstays of the European roundes of the series…however they were a no show and I dare say for good reasons whatever they maybe.

However seeing the likes of Giacomo Altoe, Josh Files, Luca Engstler, Florien Thoma and Maxime Potty to name a few made me happy. The idea of this event was to have the best of the Domestic European TCR Series take each other on and that they certainly did.

What also made me happy as a fan was seeing other drivers from other TCR Series that I myself don’t follow as intently as others. Drivers from TCR Russia, TCR Scandinavia, TCR Portugal and TCR Iberico were represented as well as an inclusion of local drivers that were also involved in TCR Italy.

Hyundai Shows Its Heels Again…

I take my hat of to the PR and Marketing team at Hyundai for the way they have handled the debut of the Hyundai i30 N TCR model that has been built and will not doubt be raced across series in Europe next year.

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With both Gabriele Tarquini and Alain Menu piloting the newest TCR model out there and making the stylish debut as they did in China with Tarquini taking the win, I wasn’t surprised to see that the Italian Touring Car Legend was entered for the TCR Europe Trophy.

If your going to sell a TCR car, do it the way Hyundai have. Put one of the best tintop drivers in it to develop it and then let them race it for customers to see what it can do.

Well, Gabriele certainly did that.

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As Race One showed, Both Files and Altoe had the measure of the Hyundai, however you get the feeling that there was more to come. Tarquini’s drive through the field in Race Two certainly showed that and whilst the Hyundai was invisible to the points, it certainly was visible on track.

With one last appearance in the TCR International Series in Dubai before the car is then on sale to potential customers, expect to see more of this pedigree in action.

Team Target Competition In The Hunt…

After winning the ADAC TCR Germany title with Josh Files and taking an on track victory with Giacomo Altoe during the TCR Italy weekend in Monza, seeing Team Target Competition on the entry list seemed a no -brainer.

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With both Files and Altoe in Honda’s for the weekend, they looked the strongest pairing on the entry list and also started as favourites for the title. Whilst both drivers missed out on the Drivers Trophy, the team secured the TCR Europe Teams Trophy and with the pace that both drivers showed on race day its no wonder.

Throw in the Pole Position that Files secured for Race One and it was obvious that its was going to be the Honda’s that were going to be fighting against Tarquini. And fight they did.

Were it not for the penalty that Files suffered in Race Two, the TCR Europe Drivers Trophy would have gone his way and that would have added to an impressive tally of three TCR Titles already. Altoe was also in with a shout for the title and pushed Comte hard in Race Two and would have been a worthy winner as well.

In my opinion, I’m hoping that Team Target decide to return to the TCR International Series and keep both Files and Altoe on as well.

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A tall order to ask for but with the performances that the team have shown at International level previously (Taking Stefano Comini to the first ever TCR Drivers Title in 2015 and stand out guest performances from Jordi Oriola) to me this makes sense.

The long winter is already on us as at the time of writing this, Josh Files has already made his appearance in the 2017 TCR International Series finale for M1RA Racing. With Altoe having experience in five different makes of TCR car as well, he is a prospect to watch. So who knows what could happen…

The Audi Weight Break…

One fact that was obvious during the TCR Europe Trophy weekend was that the Audi’s entered didn’t seem to be on the same pace as the other TCR models taking part.

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Now lets be clear: Anti Burri and Plamen Kralev are no slouches in their Audi RS3’s. Burri himself has taken a win this year in TCR Germany during his regular activities so there is talent there stright away whilst Kralev is experienced with the Audi as well.

However the weight break comes in handy for two reasons.

First, the weight break is the Audi’s fitted with a sequential gearbox were entitled to run 5 kilograms under the minimum weight of 1285 kg including the driver during the weekend from Qualifying onwards. For cars fitted with a DSG gearbox, they added 5 kilograms to their own minimum weight of 1250 kg including the driver.

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This allowed Burri and Kralev a chance to go for better times and as it ended up, Burri qualified in seventh place whilst Kralev qualified in 11th place, only three tenths back. During the races, Burri made up a lot of ground until his contact with Files in race two, showing the effect BoP had.

Here’s the second reason: BoP changes effect TCR cars worldwide.

That’s right, meaning that this change will also affect the Comtoyou Racing Audi’s of both Stefano Comini and Frédéric Vervisch in the TCR International finale that takes place in Dubai. That will be a help right there.

The Audi has suffered in recent TCR International races, so having a weight break, however minimal will help the Saloon shaped TCR car in the final races of the year.

Adding The DSG Trophy…

This to me was a master stroke by the organisers and also allowed any late arrivals to still compete in the weekends activities.

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There were six drivers who were racing for the DSG Trophy. They were using cars that were fitted with DSG gearboxes only, but it allowed them to compete on the same stage as the TCR Class Drivers and Teams.

There’s also the location to be considered behind this move. Adria International Raceway is also the home of the TCR Training Academy and the TCR Endurance Academy. The circuit has quite a TCR cars on hand that include the VW Golf, the Audy RS3 and the SEAT Leon.

As it was, Giovanni Altoe ended up as the driver who won the DSG Trophy, having driven a VW Golf DSG during the event.

The Volkswagen Challenge…

There were Volkswagen Golf TCR’s entered for the weekends activities and many were expecting a challenge to come from Luca Engstler, who secured the ADAC TCR Germany Rookie Title this year.

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However, it didn’t work out that way…

Whilst he was fast in Free Practice and Qualifying, Engstler suffered mechanical issues during both races which ruled him out of the running for the Trophy. However Maxime Potty, Florian Thoma and Francisco Abreu upheld the honours for VW.

Potty, who is a TCR Benelux regular driving for WRT, was best VW finishing 6th in race one and 4th in race two and enjoyed the fights he had with the likes of Comte, Burri and Ferrara. Abreu also got his elbows out during both races and it was good to see the TCR Iberico competitor in the mix as well.

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Thoma had a better race two as he started from Pole Position, but the fighting with the likes of Burri, Comte, Potty and Tarquini at the start dropped the Engstler Motorsport driver down the field. However all of the VW drivers showed well and backed up the fact that the Golf has been the car to have in 2017.

Comte Surprised Them All…

Coming into the weekend, the name Aurelien Comte would not be one you would have had placed a bet on to win the TCR Europe Trophy… however he beat them all.

 

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However the TCR Benelux driver worked the system well as he quietly proceeded during the weekend with the DG Sport Competition run Peugeot 308 Cup car, the same car that Comte has driver all season. In Qualifying he secured 9th position for Race One and this led to a front row spot for race two on the reversed top ten grid.

In the races was where Comte made his mark though. Whilst the focus was rightly on Josh Files, Gabriele Tarquini and Giacomo Altoe for the lead of the race, Comte quietly made his way through the field to finish in fourth place. However with Tarquini not scoring, this gave Comte points for third place going in to Race Two.

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Add in the front row start and the Frenchman used the acceleration of his 1.6 litre turbocharged machine to good use and soon he was in the lead. Despite being hounded by Altoe for second place on the road as Tarquini strode off into the distance Comte would score maximum points from the which sealed him the title.

Ironically, whilst Hyundai are selling their car through its racing, the first proper Peugeot 308 TCR car goes on sale for competition next year and what better way to sell it…

“This car is the improvement on the machine that was driven by the winner of the 2017 TCR Europe Trophy Champion…”

The Future…

For its second year of competition, the TCR Europe Trophy attracted a decent sized grid with some very talented drivers at a track that seemed to showcase the excitement of close and competitive touring car racing well.

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However, what will the third season of this Trophy look like I wonder?

Well, it could be a third different format in place if rumours are to be believed. The 2016 running of TCR Europe Trophy took the format of drivers competing in seven different events across several different Domestic TCR series weekends and that seemed to attract a good mix of European drivers.

This year it was a one off weekend held after most of the Domestic European Series had completed their seasons. Potentially for 2018, TCR Europe Trophy could be a dedicated series all of its own with up to four rounds at least in various different countries and there are benefits to this type of format.

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---Race 1 Josh Files leads_01

The TCR International Series travels around the world and the teams and drivers that take part are some of the best in Touring Car racing, however they also require big budgets and sponsors to go racing.

So a dedicated European Series would be an alternative to those who cannot make the move to International just yet but are capable of racing in Europe as well as their own domestic series with loyal sponsors and support.

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Again, the beauty of TCR cars being equal through Balance of Performance means that you can race your car in a season of ADAC TCR Germany for example and if there are no clashes, you can race the same car in TCR Europe Trophy during off weekends.

Its a possibility which many teams will investigate but we’ll look forward to some official confirmation from WSC in the coming months on the future plans of this series.

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As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of the TCR Talk International Facebook Group & the TCR Talk UK Facebook Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from The TCR International Series, Domestic Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

I’m also pleased to announce that The Checkered Flag will be covering both the TCR International Series and the TCR UK Series with the talents of Alessio Campigotto and Tim Lumb at the helm. I’ll be continuing my World RX and Euro RX duties at the site, however please give these two gentlemen a follow for all the up to date news.

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Please note that all images are used courtesy of WSC/TCR Europe Trophy.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2017 TCR Europe Trophy: Adria

TCR drivers from all over Europe are bound for Adria

The 2017 TCR Europe Trophy recently took place at the Adria International Raceway in Italy. In a change in format from 2016 where competitors had to race in events taking place over several Domestic TCR Series race weekends, 2017 would be a dedicated one off weekend.

Drivers who have raced in the various TCR series and championships all over Europe were eligible to take part in the Italian race meeting and those who entered were allocated Pre-Qualifying points based on the number of TCR appearances they have made during the season.

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Seven brands represented in the 2017 TCR Europe Trophy

The Adria International Raceway welcomed drivers and teams coming from no less than nine different series, whilst eight brands of car manufacturers were represented:

Alfa Romeo, Audi, Honda, Hyundai, Peugeot, SEAT and Volkswagen.

Files and Altoè pair up at Target Competition

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Target Competition fielded the strong duo of Josh Files and Giacomo Altoè at the wheel of two Honda Civic cars.

Files was aiming for a third TCR title in the current season after winning both the Middle East and Germany crowns (the latter for the second consecutive year), while his 17-year old teammate Altoè has established himself as one of the most competitive young drivers with brilliant results in the International, Benelux and Italian series.

One Peugeot 308 for Aurélien Comte

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Several weeks ago at Le Castellet, Peugeot Sport showed for the first time the new 308 TCR that will be racing from next year. However, even without the full TCR kit, the Peugeot 308 Racing Cup car has already won TCR races in the Benelux and 24H series.

The twisty circuit of Adria suited the French car that was in the experienced hands of Aurélien Comte, who classified fifth in the TCR Benelux with three race victories.

Buri and Kangas come from the North

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Fellow Finns Antti Buri (Audi RS3 LMS) and Olli Kangas (SEAT León) raced under the banner of LMS Racing. Buri comes fresh from a successful campaign in TCR Germany that saw him claiming one race victory at the Nürburgring and finishing a brilliant eighth in the Drivers’ championship.

Far less experienced than his teammate, Kangas has competed in the maiden season of TCR Scandinavia. Together, they have won the 12 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, final round of the 24H Touring Car Endurance series a few weeks ago.

A Russian duo for Innocenti-AMG Motorsport

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TCR Russia competitors Lev Tolkachev and Denis Grigoriev raced in two SEAT León DSG cars run by the Innocenti-AMG Motorsport team.

Grigoriev was classified tenth in the Russian series, claiming his maiden TCR victory in Race 1 at the Smolensk Ring; his teammate Tolkachev ranked 13th in the final standings.

Engstler Motorsport enters the youngest team

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The age of the two drivers entered by the Liqui Moly Team Engstler adds up to just 38 years. Luca Engstler (17) and Florian Thoma (21) form the youngest team that competed for the TCR Europe Trophy.

And yet, they have already shown their potential. After winning his maiden touring car race at Dubai in the TCR Middle East series, Engstler was crowned Junior champion of TCR Germany. Also a rookie in touring cars, his Swiss teammate Thoma made a sensational debut in TCR Germany, winning the second race in the season’s opener at Oschersleben. Engstler and Thoma will race two Volkswagen Golf GTI cars.

An Alfa Romeo Giulietta for Luigi Ferrara

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Italy’s V-Action Racing Team will run a Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta for Luigi Ferrara.

The 35-year old from Bari is an experienced driver who has already had different occasions of sitting at the wheel of TCR cars. Ferrara has driven the V-Action Giulietta twice this year, in the German and the Italian series (at Hockenheim and Monza respectively), showing the potential of the Italian car.

TCR Ibérico champion joins with a Volkswagen

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Previous to the TCR Europe Trophy, Francisco Abreu was crowned the first champion in the TCR Ibérico series. Winning two of the four races of the final event at Portimão in the Team Novadriver Volkswagen Golf GTI cars, Abreu was able to close the gap from the previous leader Francisco Mora to clinch the title. He also finished second in TCR Portugal behind Mora.

Team WRT with Maxime Potty’s VW Golf

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While Team WRT is in the best position to win a second consecutive TCR International Series title in conjunction with Leopard Racing, the Belgian outfit is also one of the top seeds in the TCR Europe Trophy.

The young Belgian Maxime Potty will be at the wheel of the team’s single Volkswagen Golf GTI at Adria. Last weekend at Assen, Potty won the final race of TCR Benelux, securing third place in the championship standings.

Bulgaria’s Plamen Kralev to race his Audi

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Bulgarian Touring Car specialist Plamen Kralev will compete in the TCR Europe Trophy with his Kraf Racing Audi RS3 LMS car.

Kralev, who switched to touring car racing three years ago after several season in GT and Formula 2, has successfully taken part in both TCR Italy and the FIA European Touring Car Cup with his Audi, ranking fifth and ninth in the two series respectively.

Hyundai will be ‘transparent’

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The Hyundai i30 N has been accepted to take part in the TCR Europe Trophy under temporary homologation form.

Therefore they were ‘transparent’ as far as the race results are concerned.
BRC Racing Team ran the Hyundai that will be driven by Touring Car legend Gabriele Tarquini who only a few weeks ago gave the Korean car its first victory on its maiden appearance, in the TCR International Series at Zehjiang.

A Special Trophy for Drivers in DSG Cars & Late arrivals add to the TCR Europe Trophy…

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As well as the drivers already announced ahead of the weekends activities, several more appeared from Practice onwards at Adria. Included in the late entries were TCR Italy star Kevin Giacon in his unmissable Opel Astra whilst others were Daniele Cappellari, Giovanni Altoè, Sandro Pelatti, Giovanni Berton and Ermanno Dionisio.

Seven cars out of the 20 entries are fitted with a DSG normal-production gearbox.They are three SEAT León (Daniele Cappellari’s, Denis Grigoriev’s and Lev Tolkachev’s), two Volkswagen Golf (Giovanni Altoè’s and Sandro Pelatti’s) and two Audi RS3 LMS

(Giovanni Berton’s and Ermanno Dionisio’s).They will also competed for special DSG Trophies that will be presented by the Adria International Raceway during a dedicated podium ceremony after Sunday’s second race.

Tarquini sets pole in the Hyundai But Files scores the points with his Honda

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Gabriele Tarquini claimed pole position for the TCR Europe Trophy at Adria International Raceway. At the wheel of his BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N, the Italian driver emerged as the fastest in both, Q1 and Q2, posting a best lap of 1:19.341 that no one was able to match.

However, as the Hyundai was running with a temporary homologation document and therefore it was transparent as far as point scoring is concerned, the five points for the pole position were awarded to Josh Files of Target Competition. The Briton qualified his Honda Civic as second fastest with a lap of 1:19.518, only two tenths behind Tarquini and three tenths ahead of his teammate Giacomo Altoè (1:19.815).

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The other drivers remained above the 1:20 mark, with Luca Engstler (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf), Luigi Ferrara (V-Action Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta) and Maxime Potty (Team WRT Volkswagen Golf) filling the positions between four and six. The three of them were covered by only one tenth of a second.

Antti Buri (LMS Racing) qualified the fastest Audi in seventh, ahead of Francisco Abreu (Team Novadriver Volkswagen) and Aurélien Comte (DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308).
The latter will share the front row of the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2 with Giovanni Altoè who qualified tenth in his Volkswagen and will start from the pole position.

Q1 – Tarquini is faster than Potty

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Gabriele Tarquini set the pace in Q1, posting the fastest lap of 1:19.923 after ten minutes of the half-an-hour period. The former world champion was the only driver capable to break the 1:20 wall and second fastest was Maxime Potty (1:20.182).

Target Competition’s teammates Giacomo Altoè (1:20.287) and Josh Files (1:20.316) placed themselves in third and fourth, with the young Italian capable of a improving significantly on his last lap. Luigi Ferrara clocked a brilliant fifth fastest lap of 1:20.535, followed by Antti Buri (1:20.672), Luca Engstler (1:20.679) and Aurélien Comte (1:20.832).
As usual there was drama for securing the last spots among the top-twelve.

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Kevin Giacon managed to post the 12th fastest lap just under the chequered flag, demoting Francisco Abreu down to 13th. However, the Italian had his last lap disallowed for trespassing the track limits and the Portuguese regained the last place in Q2.

The following drivers qualified for Q2: Tarquini, Potty, Giacomo Altoè, Files, Ferrara, Buri, Engstler, Comte, Thoma, Giovanni Altoè, Kralev and Abreu

Q2 – Tarquini and Files are the fastest

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Giacomo Altoè was the first to post a valid lap time of 1:20.038, with Luca Engstler second fastest in 1:20.126.

Gabriele Tarquini aborted his first attempt, but on the second one, he was clocked at 1:19.341 that was fast enough to claim the pole position, as the other drivers improved but not enough to beat him.

Eventually, Josh Files (1:19.518) and Giacomo Altoè (1:19.815) secured second and third places on the grid for Race 1, ahead of Luca Engstler (1:20.126) and Luigi Ferrara (1:20.229).

Drivers’ quotes after the Qualifying

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Gabriele Tarquini (pole position): “I’m very pleased because this car is like a small child growing up to me and now it seems he is ready to go to university in 6 months! It was a very close Qualifying and the gaps are very small, plus we’ve never used the Yokohama tyres before. We worked on the set-up a lot because the car is used to running on other compounds.”

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Josh Files (2nd fastest): “I’m really happy with the performance of the car, we worked very hard yesterday. We managed to save a lot of tyres throughout the free practice sessions as a result, so I could actually have two runs on new tyres in Q2, which was really important for that final lap. I couldn’t have beaten Tarquini, but I could have matched him had I not been held up, so I’m happy!”

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Giacomo Altoè (3rd fastest): “It was quite good for me in qualifying, my aim was for pole position but I didn’t manage it. I’m proud because I was only slower than Josh [Files] by about 3 tenths, so it was good because Josh is a very good benchmark for me. The car is fast but not easy to drive, so I’m still getting used to it.”

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Luca Engstler (4th fastest): “I’m really happy about this qualifying. My goal was to be the fastest Volkswagen Group car and I achieved it, so I’m quite satisfied. Now it will be maximum attack to score points tomorrow and not forgetting that we have a second race, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

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Giovanni Altoè (fastest of the DSG cars): “I’m happy with my lap but I know we could have done better, although I do prefer faster tracks. You can see the difference between the DSG and sequential gearbox cars on the straights. I think the Golf DSG is a very nice car to drive and very competitive in the corners. It’s also a little bit easier to work, so I think it’s a good compromise between a race car and a Cup car.”

Comte wins the TCR Europe Trophy in a Peugeot 308 as Files and Tarquini share race victories…

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The TCR Europe Trophy at the Adria International Raceway delivered an unexpected result, as Aurélien Comte was able to grab the title at the wheel of his DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308, the smallest car in the field with its 1.6 litre engine and standard bodywork.

Comte did not cross the line first in any of the two races that were won by Josh Files (Target Competion Honda Civic) and Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N).

Yet the young Frenchman benefited from the fact that Tarquini was not allowed to score points – because his car is still racing under a temporary homologation form – and that Files took what seemed to be an unnecessary risk in Race 2, which resulted in a penalty.

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However, Comte was a worthy winner as he led the second race until halfway before surrendering to Tarquini and then he was able to keep Giacomo Altoè (Target Competition Honda Civic) at bay until the chequered flag.

They finished on equal points, but Comte was awarded the title thanks to his better results, while Files was classified third in the Trophy, only two points behind Comte and Altoè.

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The Teams’ Trophy went to Target Competition; DG Sport Compétition was placed second, and is worth remembering that the Belgian outfit had already won last year’s TCR Europe Trophy with Pierre-Yves Corthals in an Opel Astra.

The second race delivered a thrilling show, with six drivers involved in a close battle for the lead. And – most important – they were at the wheel of cars from five different brands: Hyundai, Peugeot, Honda, Audi and Volkswagen.

Race 1 – Files wins from Tarquini and Altoè

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Josh Files took a great victory in Race 1 in the Target Competition Honda Civic; the Briton pipped pole sitter Gabriele Tarquini at the start and led from lights-to-flag. Tarquini was chasing him for most of the race, even knocking on the Honda’s rear bumper, but in the final laps the Hyundai driver lost contact from the leader and had to defend the second position from Files’ teammate Giacomo Altoè.

“I had a fantastic car. I took a great start and was able to keep Tarquini at bay. The old guy is still very quick and tough! He also hit me a few times,” said Files.

Aurélien Comte drove his Peugeot 308 home in fourth place, ahead of Antti Buri’s Audi that was closely followed by Maxime Potty’s Volkswagen Golf.

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Luigi Ferrara kept the fourth position in the first half of the race in the V-Action Alfa Romeo Giulietta, but he was dropped by a drive-through penalty. “I don’t understand it, actually I was hit by Buri and sent wide,” complained the Italian.

Luca Engstler’s hope vanished because of a shifting problem that prevented him from taking a good start and eventually forced him back to the pits. Giovanni Altoè won the DSG class in his Volkswagen Golf ahead of Sandro Pelatti in a similar car.

Race 2 – Tarquini wins, but Comte is the champion

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In a breathtaking second race, Gabriele Tarquini claimed victory at the wheel of his BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N, but Aurélien Comte in the Peugeot 308 finished second and scored the 25 points for the TCR Europe Trophy.

This was enough for him to grab the European title.

Starting from tenth of the reverse grid, Tarquini put in a great show to recover and managed to take the lead in the ninth of the 20 laps. It was not an easy task, because the fight for the lead saw a close battle between Comte, Antti Buri (LMS Racing Audi) and Maxime Potty (WRT Volkswagen), while the Target Competition duo of Josh Files and Giacomo Altoè was chasing the Hyundai.

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Eventually, Tarquini used all his experience to overtake Comte, while Files took a risk to pass Potty and Buri, which he paid dearly. In fact, he was given a penalty that spoiled his chances of winning the trophy.

With Tarquini well ahead, Comte and Giacomo Altoè had a close fight for the second place that was worth the title. They finished in the order and on equal points, but Comte was crowned the champion for the better results (third and first, against Altoè’s two second places).

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Giovanni Altoè took a second victory in the DSG class and won the special trophy, while Target Competition won the Teams’ Trophy.

Drivers’ quotes after the two races

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Aurélien Comte (1st in the TCR Europe): “The car is still lacking something in terms of performance, but it has really good race pace so I was not surprised to have been running at the front in the race. I had planned to make the best start I could and create a gap at the front. It was quite difficult at the end of the race to keep Giacomo Altoè behind, but in the end everything was OK and we took the title.”

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Giacomo Altoè (2nd in the TCR Europe): “I’m very happy with the result, although I am also a little bit disappointed too. As Aurélien and I finished on the same points, but he won the race so he became the champion. It was a really tough second race and I have to overtake a lot of cars, but at the same time I didn’t want to take too many risks. Even so, it was still a good race for me. I asked the team on the radio about the points and they said that I was leading, so I could stay in 2nd place. If I’d known, I could have tried to overtake.”

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Josh Files (3rd in TCR Europe and winner of Race 1): “I believe my move at Turn 1 in Race 2 was a calculated risk. I actually made the apex, but it was just unfortunate that Antti Buri turned in. But, this is motorsport – I didn’t come here to finish 2nd and just score points. I came here to win races. My goal was to get past Comte, which I did and then the team told me I had a drive through penalty, because I wanted to hunt down Tarquini for the win. I remember meeting Gabriele when I was three years old, in 1994 when he was racing in the BTCC. Not only did I get to race against him but also beat him in Race 1, so overall I’m very happy with the weekend.”

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Gabriele Tarquini (winner of Race 2): “It wasn’t a bad weekend for us at all! I enjoyed it a lot and had the chance to experience lots of different types of tyres. It was a tough race, the Honda is very fast car and they did a great job to make the best starts. Even if I had a small problem, I still found it pretty tough to overtake Files. I tried to push as hard as possible during the race, but without any mistake from him it was impossible for me to overtake in Race 1. The second race was much more fun because by starting 10th, I had some great fights and overtaking with the other cars.  Even though it wasn’t easy to take the win, I definitely enjoyed it.”

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---Giovanni Altoè_Podium DSG

Giovanni Altoè (1st in the DSG class): “I think I made a very good start in the race. For me it was the first time I’ve raced and started a TCR car, so I didn’t know how to do it properly. Fortunately I was more consistent in the race, I managed to look after my tyres better and make the move for the lead. I’m very happy to finish so well with a lot of the sequential gearbox cars behind me, so it was very nice for me to score a good result.”

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As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of both the TCR Talk International Facebook Group and the TCR Talk UK Facebook Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from The TCR International Series, Domestic Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

Please also keep an eye out as I share my own thoughts in another post due soon on how the 2017 TCR Europe Trophy panned out and including the talking points from the weekend…

Please note that all images are used courtesy of WSC/TCR International Series and Domestic TCR Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2017 TCR European Trophy Details…

WSC, the Promoter of the TCR International Series, has recently released the details of the 2017 TCR European Trophy. So here is a typical TCR Guru preview of the event…

The TCR promoter has unveiled details of the 2017 TCR European Trophy that will take place in a one-off event at Adria International Raceway, Italy, on October 29th.

Eligible drivers

Only the drivers who did take part in at least one TCR event during the 2017 season are eligible for the 2017 TCR European Trophy.

However the drivers classified in the first ten positions of the 2017 TCR International Series, as per 30 September 2017, are not eligible. The promoter reserves the right to allocate Wild Card entries.

Motorsports / ADAC TCR, 5. Event 2016, Nürburgring, GER

Event format

A) Up to 32 entries, the Event format will be similar to that of the TCR International Series, with one Qualifying session split in two parts (Q1 – 30 min + Q2 – 15 min for the 12 fastest cars in Q1) and two Races of 25 minutes + 1 lap each.

B) In case of more than 32 entries, drivers will be split in two groups by the organizer, according to the results achieved during the 2017 season:

The Event format will include two Qualifying sessions of 20 minutes (one per each group), two Qualifying races of 20 minutes + 1 lap (one per each group), one Repechage race of 20 minutes + 1 lap and one Final race of 35 minutes + 1 lap.

Pre-qualifying points

– 1 point per event will be allocated to each driver who did take part in events of the 2017 TCR Regional/National Series or Championships, up to a maximum of 5 points

– 1 point per event will be allocated to each Driver who did take part in the European events of the 2017 TCR International Series

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Point scoring system

Format A)
– Pre-qualifying points: maximum 5
– Qualifying: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points to the top five
– Races: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 to the top ten
Format B) – points will only count towards the qualification for the Final race
– Pre-qualifying points: maximum 5
– Qualifying race: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 to the top ten

Qualifying races and Repechage

In case of Event Format B, the best ten scorers of each Qualifying Race will qualify for the Final race.
The driver who has scored the highest number of points in the fastest Qualifying Race will win pole position.
Those who have failed to qualify will take part in the Repechage Race; the first six drivers classified will be admitted to the Final Race in the positions from 21 to 26.

Special prize
The winning Driver of the 2017 TCR European Trophy will be awarded with a TCR road car. Further details will be announced in due course.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Now, after reading into this, there has been a change since the original release sent out in January with the primary change being a move from this original qualification requirement:

Although the 2017 TCR European Trophy will consist of just one event, only competitors who have taken part in the Qualifying Events will be eligible for entering the Adria race meeting.

Competitors may qualify for the 2017 TCR European Trophy by either:

Entering the full season in one of the following TCR National/Regional Series or Championships in Europe: TCR Baltic, TCR Benelux, TCR Germany, TCR Ibérico, TCR Italy, TCR Portugal, TCR Russia, TCR Scandinavia, TCR Spain, 24h Series, 24H TCE Series, VLN

Entering a minimum of four European events of the 2017 TCR International Series from the following: Spa-Francorchamps (6th May), Monza (28th May), Salzburgring (11th June), Hungaroring (2nd July), Oschersleben (9th July).

Qualifying points will be allocated to the competitors who will enter the Adria event.

Five points will be allocated to those who have entered for the full season in one of the aforesaid National/Regional Series or Championships.

One point per event will be allocated to those who have taken part in the aforesaid European events of the 2017 TCR International Series.

2017-2017 Salzburgring Race 2---35 Thomas Jager_185.jpg

Now, with this new change in the format where the drivers classified in the first ten positions of the 2017 TCR International Series, as per 30 September 2017, are not eligible means that the following list of drivers could indeed take part in the TCR Europe Trophy if they wanted to:

Giacomo Altoè
Frédéric Vervisch
Norbert Michelisz
Rob Huff
Daniel Lloyd
Ferenc Ficza
Benjamin Lessennes
Aurélien Panis
Jens Reno Møller
Thomas Jäger
Pierre-Yves Corthals
Edouard Mondron
Jaap van Lagen
Duncan Ende
Tom Coronel
Stian Paulsen
Danny Kroes
Kantadhee Kusiri

Now as you can see there are some names in bold and some names in italics. The names in Bold are the drivers who have joined the TCR International Series this year as remaining full season entries that are outside the top ten in the Drivers Championship.

The names in Italics are the drivers who have take part in the European rounds of the TCR International Series who have the full intention of competing in the TCR Europe Trophy. As you can see there are quite a few big names here that could have a go at this Trophy.

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Add in the fact that if you are a driver who has competed in a Domestic TCR Series, you eligible as well. That’s a lot of possible entries!!!

As you can tell, I’m looking forward to this one and I’ll be watching with interest to see who has entered the Trophy in the coming weeks and how the racing turns out as well at the Adria circuit.

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of both the TCR Talk International Facebook Group and the new TCR Talk UK Facebook Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from The TCR International Series, Domestic Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

TCR International Series Spa - Francorchamps 04 - 06 May 2017

Please note that all images are used courtesy of WSC/TCR International Series.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

TCR News Roundup…March 2017 Part 2

With the TCR International Series getting underway in Georgia during the first weekend in April, the news is now coming thick and fast regarding Driver and Team line-ups for the 2017 season. Here are some more of those announcements:

Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing Continue Winning Partnership with Lukoil and SEAT Sport

TCR International Series, Buriram, Thailand 27 - 28 August 2016

Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing will continue their long-standing partnership with Russian oil giant Lukoil and Spanish car manufacturer, SEAT Sport.

Lukoil has titled sponsored the team and its three SEAT Leon Cup Racer TCRs since the inaugural season began in 2015. They have enjoyed much success together, taking 2nd in both the teams’ and drivers’ championship in their first season of competition. In 2016 Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing secured the teams’ title by a dominant 73 point margin and took second in the drivers’ championship, narrowly missing out on the top spot by only 3.5 points but cementing themselves as one of the strongest contenders for 2017.

Lukoil and SEAT Sport join Craft-Bamboo Racing for the third consecutive TCR International Series season and are focused on building on their past success to take both the drivers’ and teams’ titles. Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing has been a constant front-runner in the championship over the past two seasons and will be pushing themselves even harder to continue their string of top results, ensuring they are in the leading position come the final round.

The team will once again run three cars, with the trio displaying an updated livery for the 2017 season. The 2017 livery is an evolution of Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing’s 2016 design but features more aggressive geometric patterns on the flank of the car. A revised design on the front end gives the SEAT an even sharper look, while white wheel arches at the front help to define the wider track of the Leon Cup Racer TCR. The livery is tied up with a dominantly red back end contrasted with a blacked out rear valance to complete the 2017 package.

Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing Confirms Nash, Oriola and Valente for TCR International Series

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Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing is proud to announce a fresh and exciting driver lineup for the 2017 TCR International Series season that features a strong mix of highly experienced and successful touring car drivers. Hugo Valente, James Nash and Pepe Oriola form the trio of drivers that will be fighting for TCR International Series glory alongside Lukoil and SEAT Sport in 2017.

New to the team for 2017 is Hugo Valente, the seasoned World Touring Car Championship driver who started his WTCC career in 2013. Valente continued his rise and signed as a factory driver with Lada Sport Rosneft in 2016 before finishing the competition in 12th place. Valente joins Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing and now returns to SEAT where he started his touring car career in the French SEAT Leon Supercopa in 2012. His experience in high level touring car racing and behind the wheel of the SEAT Leon will be invaluable as he quickly gets accustomed to the new car, new circuits, and the competition.

James Nash is back for his second TCR season with Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing and the Brit has the sole intention of claiming the drivers’ championship title he so narrowly missed out on by only 3.5 points in Macau last year. Nash rejoins the 2016 TCR Teams’ Champions and hopes to build on his immensely successful 2016 track record where he claimed 11 podiums from 22 races, the most out of any driver in the series. His calculated driving style and consistency in the #54 SEAT Leon throughout his inaugural season were key factors in his ability to challenge the more experienced TCR drivers of the competition. With a year behind the wheel of the SEAT Leon now under his belt, Nash will be starting this season in a much stronger position and is sure to be one of the top contenders for the drivers’ title in 2017.

Pepe Oriola completes Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing’s trio of drivers and joins the team for the third consecutive season. After an incredibly successful two years behind the wheel of the SEAT Leon, the young gun is heading into the 2017 season with his eyes firmly set on the drivers’ championship title. The Spaniard has been a constant front runner ever since the series’ began in 2015 and is proving to be one of the fastest SEAT drivers on the grid. Oriola took 2nd place in his debut season with an incredible 12 podiums and continued his string of success in 2016, taking four wins and a total of nine podiums that would see him lead the championship on multiple occasions throughout the season before finishing fourth overall.

Oriola has been a dominant force in the championship and after just missing out on the title in 2015 and continually trading the top spot on the ladder throughout 2016; the young but highly experienced touring car driver is back with Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing to claim the title he has been so tantalizingly close to over the past two years.

The team has their eyes firmly set on taking both the drivers’ and teams’ championship titles this season and with the careful selection of Hugo Valente, James Nash and Pepe Oriola for their 2017 driver lineup, Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing has ensured that they have the best chance at victory when the season kicks off in Georgia on April 2nd.

PAULSEN AIMS AT THE TCR EUROPEAN TROPHY

2017-2017 Adria BoP---04 Honda Civic_12

The 2017 TCR European Trophy has found its first pretender in Stian Paulsen. The 29-year-old Norwegian plans to qualify for the final event at Adria by taking part in all the European rounds of the TCR International Series, driving a SEAT León TCR run by his own team.

Paulsen has earned a solid reputation at the wheel of front-wheel-drive touring cars, claiming race victories in the German Volkswagen Polo Cup (2007), the Belgian Renault Clio Cup (2008) and the SEAT León Eurocup (2014/16). He was also crowned champion in the Single-Make Trophy of the 2012 FIA European Touring Car Cup.

“I am very excited by this programme. The plan is to take part in the five European rounds of the TCR International Series and then in the TCR Europe final at Adria. Looking further ahead I will be working to add a couple of overseas events in 2018 and eventually taking part in the full International Season in 2019,” Paulsen said.

ICARUS MOTORSPORTS TO ADD A SECOND CAR FROM SPA

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Icarus Motorsports will begin its maiden season in the TCR International Series with only one SEAT León car for Duncan Ende in Georgia and Bahrain.
The second car will be run from the third event, at Spa-Francorchamps.

Ende explained: “Unfortunately we suffered some significant delays which held our cars up in customs. The timetable was far too short to properly update both cars to 2017 specs for the first race, so we elected to focus our resources on doing the job right on a single car, postponing the debut of the second car when the series returns to Europe.”

The team has yet to unveil the name of its second driver.

Norbert Michelisz launches M1RA for TCR International title assault

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It is our great pleasure to present to you a brand-new racing team from Hungary, M1RA, to contest the TCR International Series in 2017.

Founded by Hungarian motorsport hero Norbert Michelisz and renowned race engineer David Bári, M1RA will field a pair of Honda Civic Type R TCRs in the series from its base in Kecskemét.

Bári will be Team Principal while Michelisz’s main role will be helping to promote and nurture the next generation of Hungarian racing talent. The drivers will be Hungarian Attila Tassi and Italian Roberto Colciago while the Race Engineers will be Bári (Tassi) and Giancarlo Bruno (Colciago).

TCR series Sochi, Russia 02 - 03 July 2016

Despite his age, 17-year-old Tassi will enter his sixth year of racing in 2017. A regular race winner in the Hungarian Suzuki Swift Cup from 2012-15, he finished 11th in TCR International last year despite only joining the series midway through the season, and took a deserved podium finish in Russia.

TCR International Series Sepang, Malaysia 29 September - 01 Octo

The experienced Colciago, by contrast, made his race debut in 1981 and has amassed a sizeable number of championship titles including the Italian Formula 3 crown in 1990 and several national touring car crowns in Italy and Sweden. Now aged 48, he is the reigning TCR Italy champion and was a race winner in TCR International in Malaysia last year.

M1RA has shaken down both cars at Cervesina recently and will make its race debut at the TCR International season-opener at the new Rustavi International Motorpark in Georgia on April 1-2.

The season will be spread across 10 rounds across Europe and Asia and conclude at the Yas Marina Circuit in the UAE on November 26-27 in support of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Q&A with Norbert Michelisz, Team Owner:

What has driven you to establish M1RA? “For many years I have had ambitions of creating my own race team, but had always assumed that this would come at the end of my driving career. However, at the end of 2016, all the ingredients were in place to create M1RA. The right people; like David Bári, the right car; the Honda Civic Type R TCR, and the right programme in TCR International, were all available, so this is the ideal time.”

Why have you chosen to race Hondas in TCR International? “We evaluated a number of different series, including WTCC2, but for now, TCR International provided the best fit for our aims and objectives. In terms of the choice of machinery, I raced a Honda Civic Type R TCR several times in TCR Benelux last year and won six races, so I know how good a car it is. It’s a proven championship winner and my relationship with JAS Motorsport – who build the cars – is also very strong as they run the factory Civics I race in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. There was no other car under consideration really and it will form a very strong basis for our team.”

What will your role be with M1RA? “I’ve been heavily involved in setting up the team, even down to the name; Mira is the name my wife, Johanna, picked out for our daughter, who is due to be born later this month and so it’s a name that’s very close to my heart. But now my primary focus is on my ‘day job’ as a factory Honda driver in the WTCC and on fighting for the title, so my role within M1RA will focus on nurturing and developing the next generation of Hungarian racing talent. This starts with Attila Tassi who, like me, started out in Sim Racing and is one of the few people in the past 10 years who has beaten me! David Bári will be Team Principal. He is an extremely talented engineer with a lot of experience and success behind him in touring-car racing and he will do a great job. I’ve been very close to the Bári family for a long time as David’s brother, Gergo, is my Race Engineer in the WTCC.”

What are your ambitions for the season? “To win the championship. I know that sounds very ambitious for our first season as TCR has some very strong and experienced teams and drivers, but I genuinely think that we have all the ingredients necessary to mount a serious challenge. Attila has incredible potential and has already been a podium finisher in his first season while Roberto is an experienced championship winner in touring cars and will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. Nobody thought 10 years ago that a sim racer like me could be a genuine contender for major racing titles, so I think we’re in a good position to show people what we can do.”

HYUNDAI SIGNS GABRIELE TARQUINI AS TCR TEST DRIVER

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Hyundai Motorsport has signed Gabriele Tarquini as the lead test driver for the TCR project, which was announced last month. The Italian will work alongside the engineers and designers in the Customer Racing department throughout the development phase of the new car.

Tarquini brings a wealth of experience from a career in motorsport to the project. Over nearly 25 years driving for manufacturer teams in both national and international series at the highest levels of touring car competition he has established himself as one of the most successful drivers, winning three championships, including the FIA world title in 2009. However, when he begins his testing work with Hyundai Motorsport next month will be his first time at the wheel of a car built to the TCR regulations.

Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing manager Andrea Adamo said: “To be able to bring such an experienced driver into the project at this early stage is a big step forward. Gabriele Tarquini is recognized as one of the most successful current touring car drivers. However, he has also shown his ability to work with a team, helping to develop a project for competition. For us this is very important.

The TCR marketplace is growing, but it is very competitive, with a number of top manufacturers building models for the regulations. Because of this we need to take full advantage of all of our test running over the coming months so we can deliver a strong car to our customers that they can be competitive with in the full range of championships worldwide where TCR specification designs are welcomed.”

Tarquini said: “I’m very pleased to have joined Hyundai Motorsport and their TCR project. You can see from their rally team that they are working at a very high, a very professional, level. This will be my first time developing a TCR car so to be the lead test driver for the project is an exciting new challenge for me. I am looking forward to getting started and using my experience start developing a car from almost a blank sheet of paper. I met with some of the engineers on the project when I visited the team’s headquarters and I’m confident that we can work together to make the car competitive for a very tough set of regulations.”

The team plans to enter a second car as from the third race meeting of the season at Spa.

Tarquini will begin his test work with the team next month, with the first completed cars sold to customers planned for delivery in early December.

COMINI IN AN AUDI RS 3 LMS RUN BY COMTOYOU RACING

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Double TCR International champion Stefano Comini will defend his title at the wheel of an Audi RS 3 LMS run by Comtoyou Racing.

“I received a number of offers, including the one from Comtoyou Racing… Jean-Michel Baert, the boss of the outfit, has hired François Verbist, whom I know well since we worked together in 2016. I hold him in great esteem and this convinced me this was the best option. This project has been launched at the last-minute and we’ll go to Georgia with very little preparation. There, our goal will be to score as many points as possible. I must say that trying to conquer a third crown in a row, with a third different car brand, is a very exciting challenge!” Comini said.

Based in Waterloo and involved in the European VW Fun Cup since the end of 2015, Comtoyou Racing has seized the opportunity that presented itself. “Sometimes, in life, there are chances you cannot let go. Especially, when all the pieces of the puzzle seem to come together nicely,” acknowledges Jean-Michel Baert, the Team Principal. “This project has seen the light in less than one week! Audi Sport Customer Racing wished to see an Audi RS 3 LMS in the TCR International Series and, as I am a long-time customer with them, they lured me a bit… At the same time, François Verbist was available to organize the team, from a technical and logistical point of view. In addition, Stefano Comini was without a drive a few weeks from the start of the season, and the idea of having the #1 on our car was very appealing. In five days, we have set up everything and fetched the car from Audi Sport Customer Racing at Neuberg. It is now on its way to Georgia.”

TCR International Series Sepang, Malaysia 29 September - 01 Octo

Well known for his role at Team WRT since 2010, François Verbist will be a key element in the new organization, contributing all his experience and competence. “It’s crazy how fast this project has taken off! Between the first phone call with Audi Sport Customer Racing and the delivery of the car, only 48 hours had passed. We are happy to have their support, as they wish to showcase the competitiveness of the Audi RS 3 LMS in the global series. Everything has happened very late and, clearly, we’ll need a couple of races to be at the top, but I am sure that we have the best people in the team and that we will make it. On top, with Stefano, we have one of the very top drivers. It is a huge challenge, but we are here to bid for the title!”

VESNIĆ TO RACE AN AUDI IN THE EUROPEAN TROPHY

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After years of racing in different European racing series, multiple Serbian and FIA Central European Zone Touring Car champion Milovan Mikica Vesnić will compete in the European events of the 2017 TCR International Series and in the final of the TCR European Trophy at Adria.

The 40-year old Vesnić will drive a brand new Audi RS 3 LMS run by the all-Serbian racing team ASK Vesnić.

“TCR is the next step for me and my team. We are a small team, but we have a lot of experience. My family has been involved in motor sports for more than forty years and we are not afraid to fight with the world’s top teams and drivers. Our main goal in 2017 is to present ourselves and and our country at our best in TCR International. For the time being we have already the budget two-three events, but we are working hard to take part in all the five European rounds plus the final in Adria,” said Vesnić.

CORTHALS AND HOMOLA IN DG SPORT’S OPEL ASTRA CARS

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DG Sport Compétition announced Pierre-Yves Corthals and Mat’o Homola as the drivers of the two Opel Astra TCR cars entered by the Belgian team for its maiden season in the TCR International Series.

The 22-year old Homola has established himself as one of the most competitive young Touring Car drivers at an international level; last year he was one of the title contenders in the TCR International Series, claiming one race win and ranking 5th in the Drivers’ Championship. “I’m excited to race again in the TCR International Series, which I consider as one of the best and the most competitive touring car series. And I’m pleased to be part of DG Sport, an experienced team that claimed the TCR European Trophy in 2016. I believe there is a huge potential in the combination between the team and the new Opel Astra TCR. I am looking forward to new victories!” said Homola.

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Corthals has been confirmed by the team after last year’s successful campaign that saw ‘Pilou’ winning the TCR European Trophy and finishing runner-up in the TCR Benelux with six race wins. The Belgian driver has also worked together with the Opel Motorsport technicians to develop the 2017 version of the Astra. He declared: “I am very pleased to take part in the TCR International Series. Because I know well the potential of the car, I think that we have all the cards to be able to compete for the top positions. The fact that nobody knows the Rustavi track and that we have a very professional team, makes it an ideal context to start the season.”

Team manager Lionel Hansen is confident: “Even if its engine and gearbox haven’t been changed from last year, the Astra TCR underwent significant technical improvements: running gear, suspensions, aerodynamics and also the optimization of brakes and electronics. All this has made the car easier to drive to the limits, like we saw during the Balance of Performance test in Adria, where the Astra proved fast and reliable.”

ZENGŐ MOTORSPORT TO RACE STARD-BUILT KIA CARS

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Hungary-based Zengő Motorsport will run two STARD-built KIA cee’d TCR cars in the 2017 International Series from the third event of the season at Spa-Francorchamps.

The team, directed by Zoltán Zengő, has gained impressive experience in international Touring Car competitions, claiming brilliant results in the FIA European and World championships. The young Hungarian Ferenc Ficza, who will turn 20 in May, has been named as one of the two drivers.

I am very proud to announce that STARD and Zengő Motorsport have established what we expect to be a successful cooperation. I have been amazed by the perfection of the new KIA cee’d TCR that has been built and developed by STARD and highly appreciate their confidence in choosing us as their partner in the TCR International Series. We hope to be able to repay their confidence by reaching good results from the Belgian event onwards. We have named Ferenc Ficza as our first driver, because our mission at Zengő Motorsport has always been to take care of Hungary’s young and talented drivers!” said Zoltán Zengő.

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Michael Sakowitz, CEO STARD stated: “We are very pleased to have ZengőMotorsport, one of the most prestigious and successful Touring Car squads in recent years, with their leading driver Ferenc Ficza, running our brand new K:Force KIA cee´d TCR in its maiden season in the TCR International series. Zoltan Zengőgot in touch with us in 2016 about his project and we immediately realised that Zengö Motorsport and STARD shared the same competitive targets. We are very optimistic that this will be a successful partnership and we will fully support the team with our premium customer service. We are looking forward to a very exciting first season!“

TCR promoter Marcello Lotti commented:“This is an alliance to keep an eye on! I know ZengőMotorsport well and I consider it to be a very professional and ambitious team. At the same time, I was impressed by the determination that STARD has lavished on the KIA cee’d TCR project. There’s no doubt that the two together will do well.”

JENS MØLLER ENTERS A HONDA CIVIC IN THE EUROPEAN EVENTS

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Jens Reno Møller was the third driver to commit to take part in the European events if the TCR International Series in order to qualify for the TCR European Trophy final at Adria International Raceway in October.
Møller has been a regular participant in both the Danish and the Scandinavian Touring Car championships, mostly driving JAS Motorsport-built Honda cars and establishing a solid customer relationship with the Italian engineering company. A relationship that the Dane – who was crowned 2009 DTC Independent champion – has just renewed, as he will race in a Honda Civic TCR.

“I am excited for coming back to racing after a five-year break and can’t wait to work with JAS Motorsport again, as they have built a very competitive car. The new TCR category is really attractive for privateers and provides top class racing, with a lot of very quick drivers. I expect to struggle in the first part of the season, but I will work hard to be in the right part of the field during the season. For me the European final at Adria is where we need to show our potential and then we’ll see for next year. I am also very pleased because I managed to bring back all the team members who have been worked with me until 2010!” said Møller who had his first test in the car Tuesday and Wednesday at Spa.

LEOPARD RACING CONFIRMS INTERNATIONAL SERIES PROGRAMME

TCR International Series, Buriram, Thailand 27 - 28 August 2016

Following its successful maiden season in 2016, Leopard Racing Team confirmed its commitment to the TCR International Series with the aim to defend its title in the Drivers’ Championship.

The team will continue to work together with WRT that provides its experienced and professional structure. They will be supported by an important partner like Castrol, a company with a long and proven history in motorsports.

For the 2017 season Leopard Racing and WRT will run Volkswagen Golf GTi cars once again.

Jean-Karl Vernay, who was classified third in the 2016 TCR International Series, claiming three race victories and two pole positions, has been confirmed at the wheel of the team’s first car from the opening event at Rustavi.

The young Frenchman said: “I am very pleased to race in the TCR International Series once again and with the same team. This is a nice change for me, because it’s the first time in my racing career that I’m able to take part in the same championship in two consecutive seasons. It is definitely a good thing, because it will make my life easier and will help me to be competitive straight away. I know some of the racetracks, I know the Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR very well and I get along well with the team that proved to be very professional. I reckon it will be a bit difficult in the first two events, as I will have to race by myself, with no teammate. Despite this, I am very confident because we have a competitive package.”

FICZA BEGINS THE SEASON WITH ZELE RACING

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Ferenc Ficza will race in the first two events of the season at Rustavi International Motorpark and Bahrain International Circuit in a SEAT León TCR run by Zele Racing.
After several years in single-seater and GT championships, the Austrian team, directed by Michael Zele, is ready to make its maiden appearance in the TCR International Series.

“We had the opportunity to enter the International Series and have taken up the challenge. To us everything is new, but I am sure we will learn quickly what it takes to be competitive. We are all excited to be on the grid and are looking forward to work with TCR and SEAT,” Zele said.

“It’s great to be back in the International Series with such an experienced team. I am sure we will have a lot of fun out there,” said Ficza who made occasional appearances in the 2015 TCR International Series and will drive a KIA cee’d TCR for Zengő Motorsport from the third event at Spa-Francorchamps onwards.
Zele Racing will either sign a driver for the rest of the season or entrust the SEAT to race-by-race guest drivers.

A second car will be fielded from the third event of the season at Spa-Francorchamps and until the end of the season.

 

TCR series Imola, Italy 22 May 2016

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!!!

 

 

The FIA Touring Car Challenge… A sight we might see again…

This is a post I originally wrote in 2013, but with the introduction of the TCR International Series and the FIA adopting the BTCC’s NGTC regs for other national series, this post now has a different ending…

(Note… I’ve now updated it for the 2017 TCR Trophy as this is the closest chane we have of seeing something similar to the original FIA Touring Car Challenge).

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Before the European Touring Car Cup and its successor the World Touring Car Championship returned in 2005, in the early 1990’s the FIA decided to bring together the best of the Touring Car World in a sort of “World Cup” meeting…

Better put the kettle on, this one is a biggie…

After the demise of the European Touring Car Cup in 1988, Domestic Touring Car Championships continued on with the Group A/Multi Class rules until the early 1990’s. The BTCC followed its own route with a single class structure with only 2 litre normally aspirated production cars allowed. The DTM followed a single car structure with 2.5 litre normally aspirated production cars with electronic aids from 1993 onwards.

The FIA decided to clarify the two different sets of regulations, calling the DTM set “FIA Class 1” and the more universally adopted BTCC regulations “FIA Class 2.” With the majority of the different Touring Car Series in Europe and other parts of the world taking the Class 2 route, pretty soon the best Touring Car drivers in the world were racing in equal machinery.

And so it came to pass that the best drivers and manufacturers met at Monza in October 1993 and 2 races were held. There was a points system for individual drivers and also a Nations Cup.

Names such as Radisich, Cleland, Winkelhock, Larini, Giovanardi, Longhurst, Pirro, Biela, Stuck, Rouse, Soper and many others in the 45 car field drove in such iconic Touring Car Machinery provided by Ford, BMW, Vauxhall, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Peugeot, Mazda, Toyota and Nissan.

It became obvious that the end of season form shown in the BTCC by Ford from their drivers Andy Rouse and Paul Radisich that they would be the ones to watch. Radisich proved this theory correct by putting his Ford Mondeo on Pole Position for both races. However it would be the massed ranks of Peugeot, Alfa Romeo and BMW who would provide the Kiwi driver with the fiercest competition on both races.

But that didn’t stop him running away into the distance and taking two wins from two Pole Positions. In race one, Larini got the better start and led the field around in the greasy, slippery conditions. As the field poured through the Lesmo’s Rouse, Soper and Aiello would make contact, putting Rouse and Soper out on the spot. Radisich would catch Larini and pass him, taking french driver Alain Cudini in the Opel Vectra (or Vauxhall Cavalier to the rest of us) with him. Radisich won from Cudini and Larini with John Cleland taking 4th in his Cavalier and ex Grand Prix driver Alessandro Nannini 5th in a second Alfa Romeo 155.

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In Race Two, Radisich would lead the field away in a better start to a lead he wouldn’t lose. Larini would valiantly try to stay with the Ford Mondeo but had to settle for 2nd place again. However the top five for Race 2 would have a different look with Phillippe Gache in the Alfa Romeo in 3rd, Alex Burgstaller in the BMW 318i in 4th and Eric Van de Poele in the Nissan Primera in 5th. Soper would fail to finish again whilst Rouse fought his way up to 19th from the back. Cleland would spin in the greasy conditions and finish in 17th place.

Radisich won the Drivers Title whilst Italy would win the Nations Cup. The event took place again in 1994 at Donington Park where the worlds best would fight it out on the Grand Prix Circuit over just one race this time. At the first attempted standing start Cleland led away from 4th on the grid in his Vauxhall Cavalier followed by Steve Soper in his BMW and Radisich in the Mondeo. However the race was red flagged when Shaun Van De Linde, Phillippe Gache, Keith O’dor, Jan Lammers and David Leslie were all involved in a crash and later in the lap Alain Menu in the Renault Laguna would retire after hitting Frank Biela’s Audi.

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Radisich led from the restart with Soper, Cleland and Tarquini in pursuit, however Tarquini would outbrake himself at Goddards leading to Cleland and Pirro retiring from contact behind the italian. At one stage the three german drivers Biela, Ravaglia and Winkelhock would fight for 3rd as Soper pursued Radisich, however Ravaglia would fall back into the clutches of Tarquini and Muller in the BMW whilst Winkelhock would take 3rd from Audi driver Biela after contact at the Melbourne hairpin.

Radisich would win the race with Soper, Winkelhock, Tarquini and Han Joachim-Stuck in the top five. This second win would confirm Radisich as the first double world touring car champion whilst Germany won the Nations Cup thanks to Winkelhock, Stuck and Markus Oestrich.

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In 1995 the event took place in France at Paul Ricard. The new Audi A4 Quattro’s dominated both races and Frank Biela would be Champion as the Audi’s and rear wheel drive BMW’s dominated the races. In Race One Biela would win from Soper and Yvan Muller whilst in Race Two Biela’s team mate Pirro won from Steve Soper and Biela. Audi would win the first Manufacturers title from BMW and Honda.

There was an attempt to run the race at the Austrian A1-Ring but only 10 entries were made leading to the event being cancelled.

Following a break in 1996, the SuperTouring fraternity had another  two chances in 1997 and 1998 with the 2 litre version of the Bathurst 1000kms taking place. Both editions of the race featured Iconic names such as Radisich, Cleland, Brock, Warwick, Morris, Longhurst, Biela, Richards, Rydell, Neal, Plato, Menu, Harvey, Jones, McConville & many more, eith teams often combining the Australian and European tintop talents in both cars.

The 1997 AMP Bathurst 1000 was the 38th running of the annual Bathurst 1000 touring race. It was also the first Bathurst 1000 race held after the controversial split between race organisers, the Australian Racing Drivers Club, and V8 Supercar.

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The 1997 race featured teams from Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. It was won by brothers Geoff and David Brabham, driving a BMW 320i for BMW Motorsport Australia. The car of teammates Paul Morris and Craig Baird had initially been declared the winner of the race but were later disqualified as Baird had breached the race regulation which limited any one driver to a maximum of three hours continuous driving. A late race error saw the team leave Baird in the car at the final pit stop instead of putting Morris in the car for the run to the chequered flag.

This mistake cost the team a 1-2 finish for BMW. The Orix Audi Australia 4WD A4’s of Brad Jones/Frank Biela & Cameron McConville/Jean-Francois Hemroulle completed the podium with the two Volvo 850’s of Jim Richards/Rickard Rydell and Cameron Mclean/Jan Nilsson completed the top five.

However the 1998 race was a more memorable affair. Practice, Qualifying and the race lead for the entire 161 laps was fought out between the Volvo Racing Team of Jim Richards & Rickard Rydell in a Volvo S40 and Matt Neal & Steven Richards in a Nissan Primera run by Team Dynamics with support from Nissan Motorsport.

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Rydell put the S40 on pole in a lap that is regarded by the Swede Tintop legend as his best ever pole lap for his favourite race. In the end it was the Volvo pairing that won by over two seconds from the Nissan pair. Joining them on the podium were the Audi Sport Australia pairing of Brad Jones & Cameron McConville, this time in a FWD Audi A4. The top five were completed by Cameron McLean/Tony Scott in a privateer BMW 320i and BTCC pairing John Cleland & Derek Warwick in the Team Vectra Vauxhall Vectra.

Now the sad thing is that such an event may never take place for quite sometime due the fact that the major touring car series all run to different regulations and have done for the past few seasons. But the idea of seeing the worlds best racing in equal machinery is something rare and wonderful and something I hope will happen again in my lifetime.

I suppose that S2000 regulation cars would be the most popular set of cars to try and resurrect the Touring Car Challenge with but you would have 2 classes of car with S2000 1.6 litre turbo’s racing with S2000 2.0 litre non turbo cars. Its an idea but with a fully fledged World Championship in operation and a European Cup in operation, this makes logistics and timing difficult. Add to the fact that budgets are tight in touring car racing and getting tighter each day and the revival idea becomes nigh on impossible which is a shame.

Anyway, its another memory I wanted to share with you and you’ve earned that cup of tea…

Now the original post ended there, but at the time of writing the WTCC was moving to new TC1 cars, there was the creation of TCR & the recent announcements of the various national TCR series to be in place for 2015 or 2016 and the FIA’s adoption of the BTCC NGTC regulations to be introduced in other national tintop series.

My original thought was that its just possible that we could yet see a Touring Car Challenge re-appear one day… Plus, I love talking about these SuperTourer Memories.

Well fast forward to 2017 and with the new format of the 2017 TCR Europe Trophy, we finally have something akin to the original Touring Car Challenge taking place 24 years later!!!

See you soon!

Phil.

All the best from the Guru!!