TCR Talk: TCR UK is on its way!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Ashley Sutton (GBR) Team BMR Subaru Levorg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TCR International Series Bahrain, Sakhir 14 -16 April 2017

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

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

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

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

Hell I don’t even drive.

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

TCR Talk: Why TCR Should Come To the UK…

Originally I started writing this earlier in the year, however there have been reports that a TCR UK series could become a possibility of late, so it seems right to get this out in the open…

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As you are all well aware, I love my touring car racing. Whether it be the awesome Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the diversity of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the action of the DTM or the close racing from Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, I love the action that this type of racing provides.

I have been actively following The TCR International Series since its beginning and I’m finding it just as exciting as all of the championships above, however as a fan of Touring Car racing I feel that there is something missing from the TCR International series:

A UK round…

So I’ve decided to put a case forward to explain why I feel there should be a UK round of the TCR International Series…

The Fanbase…

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The fanbase for touring car racing is enormous in the UK. Its quite simple really, we Brits love our Tintop racing and this is evident with the following that the BTCC has and continues to grow with each year. The introduction of the NGTC rules in 2011 and the later introduction of the TBL license system in 2013 has seen a massive growth for the series and the fans love it!

But thats not the half of it. Between 2006 and 2013, the DTM was a regular visitor to Brand Hatch and the crowds flocked in to see the best of the best in German Touring Car racing compete head to head on British soil. With the British drivers such as Jamie Green, Gary Paffett and more fighting for honours on home ground the racing was exciting and close on the small Indy circuit.

Another example is the WTCC. Racing on the Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch between 2006 and 2010, you had the best touring car drivers in the world (often spawned from the BTCC as Champions or upcoming talent) racing hard to tame the historic venue and take victory.

WTCC 2008, England

Iconic names such as Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini, Andy Priaulx and Alain Menu were all drivers who cut their teeth in the BTCC before going on to win either WTCC titles or races and yet the crowds flocked to the Kent circuit to see these guys in action as they battled door handle to door handle.

In short, we love our tintop racing and the TCR International Series has the same door to door action as all of these great series… In theory, we Brits would love to watch TCR race at either Silverstone, Brands Hatch or even Donington Park…

The Drivers & Teams…

For those that don’t follow the TCR International Series or the various domestic TCR series around the globe, here’s a heads up:

WE HAVE BRITISH DRIVERS & TEAMS IN TCR EVENTS!!!

We Brits loving supporting the home team and Drivers and there’s few of them out there…

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

In 2015 when the TCR International series began, Touring car heavyweights Craft-Bamboo Racing entered with three Lukoil backed SEAT Leon’s with Pepe Oriola, Jordi Gene and Sergey Afanasyev. Oriola was a championship challenger all the way to the final round at Macau and was again this year. To add to this, Craft-Bamboo Racing secured the 2016 Teams Title after regular podium finishes.

For 2016 BTCC race winner and WTCC Independents champion James Nash re-joined the team that took him to the 2013 WTCC Independents Title in the iconic Chevrolet Cruze as he acclimatised to the SEAT Leon that the team campaigned in 2015 with new upgrades for the 2016 season

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The former BTCC driver took two race wins and was a regular podium visitor to stay in the championship hunt. Nash led the series going into the final round in Macau where contact and damage to his car ruled him out.

However there is another Brit whose been rather successful in 2016 and is looking ot bigger things in 2017: Josh Files.

TCR International Series Macau, 17 - 20 November 2016

Files made his debut for the Campos Racing Opel team at Macau in 2015, however he signed for Team Target Competition and dominated the inaugural ADAC TCR Germany series at the wheel of his Honda Civic where he became the first Brit to win a TCR title and the first driver to win the German title. He was also on form at the Finale in Macau as he was a top six challenger both in Qualifying and the races.

So we have drivers and teams to cheer on with more looking towards the TCR scene to take part in such competitive racing!!

The Coverage…

Currently almost all of the TCR Domestic Series and the TCR International Series can be viewed online at the TCR TV website as well as Motors TV showing the International races live or delayed on the same day.

TCR International Series Sepang, Malaysia 29 September - 01 Octo

With Motorsport now turning to the Internet for its various forms of coverage, this means that Championships no longer have to rely on TV Channels fighting for the rights to show the racing, however you can be sure that if there was a UK round of the  TCR International Series, ITV would potentially show a highlights programme of this due to their link with the BTCC as well as showing a highlights package for both the DTM and the WTCC in recent years.

Add to this the ever expanding online reporting for the Championship which includes Motorsport.com, Autosport, TouringCarTimes, TouringCars.net and many more varied sites out there that provide up to date and interesting coverage of the international and Domestioc TCR series (as well as a little known blog called called Tintop Guru).

A weekend of TCR action that doesn’t clash with other major motorsport series (a rare thing these days) would gain a lot of mileage and even more followers for the rest of the season as well as more interest in future seasons.

A UK TCR Series…

I’ve left this one till last as there’s been a lot of talk recently about the idea of a UK based TCR Series potentially being worked on.

TCR series Salzburgring, Austria 04 - 05 June 2016

The first sound I can hear is the grown of the BTCC fans and I understand why. TCR Genius Marcello Lotti himself said when announcing the formation of Domestic Championships that the BTCC was too strong for a UK Series to work..

Hang on… If thats the case, why are we all talking about it then???

Just a few days ago, BTCC Series Boss Alan Gow stated to Autosport that he saw no threat to the series if a UK based TCR Championship came to fruition. Before that came the report from Autosport of interest being shown in establishing a UK Series.

So, why the Interest? I guide you towards the previous positive points I have raised about having British Drivers and Teams doing so well on both the International stage and Domestic stage as well as one key point: WE LOVE OUT TINTOP RACING!!!

TCR series Salzburgring, Austria 04 - 05 June 2016

TCR may well be geared towards the hatchback of cars with the VW Golf, SEAT Leon and others being the car of choice, however these are normal road cars that Joe Public can see every day. There also the low cost performance balancing formula in place to make sure that there are only Customers teams developing the cars that they buy from the Customer Support of people like Audi, Honda, VW etc…

No works teams means that this is down to the hard work of the Customer teams and their drivers. A UK Series also offers the chance for teams that don’t have the budget to race in the BTCC a different path to compete in Touring Cars with an arena that already has a large market of cars that are competitive and easy to setup.

This also allows them the chance to compete in other domestic series and to take that knowledge to the International stage if they wish to.

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A UK Series could work well being on the Support bill of an established championship like the British GT Championship for example and I fully support any decision to run a UK series. Its also run as a class in most Endurance series across Europe including the VLN series and the 24H Series, so aligning a UK Championship to an Endurance Championship Support bill make sense…

Just to remind you, I love the BTCC and I have since 1988. I’m a lifelong fan as well as enjoying the other major tintops series out there. However TCR is a growing formula that’s working and expanding fast for Touring Car Racing. This could work nicely alongside, not against, the BTCC as a series and I look forward to seeing what comes of this progress.

Conclusion…

So, I’ve built a positive case here.

Why? I hear you ask…

Well because there are the negatives to this as well. With the BTCC being such a strong series, there is the possibility that numbers for a UK TCR series would come up short and mean that this could all end as quickly as the speculation began.

Another must is a need for the cars required for a UK series to prosper. Whilst Europe has many series now in action and its not difficult to travel to compete in any of these or for sold TCR cars to be delivered, there needs to be the market for this to work. The cars are sold at capped prices and need to be made available to anyone looking to compete.

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There is a genius solution to this at work already. The TCR International Series has a marketplace online already where cars and parts can be sold and bought meaning that access is already there.

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In short a UK Series can work as could a UK round of TCR. Germany has both the DTM and the ADAC TCR Germany series and both of these championship have managed to work alongside each other with popular crowds following the action. Earlier this week it was reported that the German TCR Series could see a capacity grid of 32 cars! So this proves that TCR can work in the UK as well alongside a major domestic Tintop series.

Whats needed is time, effort, enthusiasm and patience to get this off the ground. I for one look forward to watching and following a UK TCR Series as well as enjoying the various Tintop series I follow.

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!!!