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Pierre Runic has chosen Bas Koeten Racing for his TCR entrance

After a period of long negotiation, RaceMedia is happy to announce that they have agreed terms with Bas Koeten Racing to form a long term project for Pierre Runic and his entrance to TCR regulated competition for 2018.

The plan is for a two year project, with an option for a third year, for Runic to compete in one of the highly competitive and successful TCR series. Runic will make his debut for the team behind the wheel of the highly successful Audi RS3 LMS model, which has already taken race wins in the International Series and in various National Series.

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Runic himself is also looking forward to the opportunity presented to him.

“I am thrilled about the many openings this opportunity presents and as a professional I
always like to over deliver to my partners,” explained Runic.

“The shift from International karting into one of the most competitive touring car series in the world is a big leap for me, but I will put 110% into this and I will make sure no one is left disappointed.”

His initial focus is a full season in the TCR International Series, however there are also
options for the Swedish driver to compete in the TCR European Trophy. Other options being explored currently are TCR Class Endurance Racing in the 24 Hours Series or even some time in one of the many National TCR series around the globe.

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The Bas Koeten Racing Audi RS3 LMS that Pierre Runic will race in 2018. Credit: TCR Benelux

In order to make sure that Runic is fully prepared for his debut in 2018, RaceMedia has
already begun the hunt for vital sponsors to make sure that the Swedish driver can compete in a full season of competition as he goes up against experienced teams and drivers in TCR Competition.

“With Pierre driving an Audi in an already experienced and well managed top team we
believe that he is very well positioned to satisfy his potential sponsors.” Says Niclas
Johansson at RaceMedia.

More information on Bas Koeten Racing

Since the start of the TCR International series in early 2015, Bas Koeten Racing has been a part of this growing sport. The team has participated in both national and international TCR sprint series. Furthermore the Dutch squad is a very experienced player in the 24H Endurance Series.

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Currently Bas Koeten Racing runs five 2017 TCR cars. Besides the various TCR series the team competes in other championships such as Clio Cup, Supercar Challenge, Belcar Endurance Championship, Winter Endurance Championship and various national club races on the annual calendar.

Each year Bas Koeten Racing participates in around 60 events across the globe. Being active in around six different race and rally championships provides a huge advantage of technical know-how.

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)

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

“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!!!

2017 TCR International Series – Germany

The TCR International Series returns to Oschersleben

The TCR International Series returns to Oschersleben’s Motorsport Arena for the second consecutive year.

Built in 1997 and partially modified in 2007, this modern racetrack has always been a favourite of Touring Car drivers for its demanding layout that offers several opportunities to overtake and German fans enjoy the door-to-door battles between the cars.

TCR series Oschersleben, Germany 17 - 19 June 2016

Last year, Mat’o Homola claimed his first TCR win in the first race, beating Dušan Borković and James Nash who finished second and third again in the second race that was won by Pepe Oriola.

The SEAT cars dominated the event, as they filled the top-five places in both races.

TCR series Oschersleben, Germany 17 - 19 June 2016

This year the TCR competitors will use the circuit’s older layout that includes the smoother “esses” at the end of the pit straight instead of the sharper left-hander. This is to limit the risk of a pile up at the start and to favour overtaking manoeuvres.

M1RA drivers Tassi and Colciago defend the top positions

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

The previous event at the Hungaroring turned out very much in favour of Hungary-based M1RA. Attila Tassi claimed his first TCR victory in Race 1 and immediately encored in Race 2, jumping to the top of the Drivers’ classification in the process.

His teammate Roberto Colciago was classified fourth and fifth, which helped him to retain the second position overall, six points behind his teammate.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Jean-Karl Vernay of Leopard Racing was a podium finisher (third) in Race 1 and was able to stay third in the standings with a gap of 13 points, while Stefano Comini, who had arrived in Hungary as the series leader, had a disappointing weekend and dropped to fourth. However, the Comtoyou Racing driver remains within striking distance, 25 points behind Tassi.

Pepe Oriola of Lukoil Craft-Bamboo ranked fifth and second in the two Hungarian races and remains in contention for the title fight; fifth in the standings with a gap of 42 points.

Balance of Performance revised to save brakes and tyres

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

The TCR Technical Department made a significant revision to the Balance of Performance list in order to improve the working conditions of tyres and brakes.

The running weight of every model has been reduced by either 10 or 20 kilos. A 20-kilo weight break was granted to the Alfa Romeo Giulietta (-20 kg), Audi RS3 LMS (+25 kg), KIA cee’d and Subaru STI (both -40 kg), Peugeot 308 (-60 kg), Volkswagen Golf GTI (-20 kg) and SEAT León (-20 kg). The Honda Civic (+30 kg), Opel Astra (+10 kg) and SEAT León DSG (-20 kg) have all benefited from a 10-kilo reduction.

On top of this, the ride height of the Audi RS3 LMS DSG and the SEAT León DSG was further reduced to 60mm.

This scale will be applied immediately and until further notice.

Success ballast for Tassi and Oriola at Oschersleben

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Attila Tassi’s double victory in his home event at the Hungaroring meant that the young M1RA driver took the leadership in the standings for the first time, but also that his Honda Civic will be laden by the maximum Success Ballast of 30 kilos at Oschersleben.

The second-best scorer in Hungary was Tassi’s team principal and occasional teammate Norbert Michelisz, therefore he will receive 20 kilos of Success Ballast in the case of a further participation in the International Series. Pepe Oriola of Lukoil Craft-Bamboo will carry the 10 kilos of Success Ballast imposed to the third best scorer of the previous event.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

As a result, Tassi’s Honda will weigh 1345kg (1285kg minimum weight + 30kg Success Ballast + 30kg Balance of Performance adjustment) and Oriola’s SEAT León 1295kg (1285kg + 10kg SB – 10kg BoP).

Luca Engstler ready to debut in the International Series

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Luca Engstler will make his debut in the TCR International Series at Oschersleben. The 17-year old son of Franz Engstler will be at the wheel of a Volkswagen Golf GTI run by his father’s Junior Team Engstler.

The German teenager has already successfully taken his first steps in Touring Car competition by winning his maiden race: the opening round of the TCR Middle East Series at Dubai last January. He eventually was classified third in the series’ final standings.

Engstler is currently competing in the ADAC TCR Germany series, of which he’s leading the Junior Trophy.

“It will be a very stressing weekend as I will race in both the International and the German series. I will need to make an effort to maintain concentration amongst all the sessions and races. My priority remains the Junior Trophy of the German series, but I also wish to make a good impression while racing against the top international drivers,” said Engstler.

Boutsen Ginion Racing returns with Aurélien Panis

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

The Boutsen Ginion Racing will rejoin the TCR International Series from the German event at Oschersleben and for the rest of the season.

After successfully taking part in its home event at Spa-Francorchamps with two Honda Civic cars for Tom Coronel and Benjamin Lessennes (who finished second and fifth), the Belgian team has entered one Civic for Aurélien Panis, the 22-year old son of former Formula One driver Olivier.

After an apprenticeship in different single-seater series, Panis has moved to Touring Cars during the current season, driving a Honda Civic in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

Panis commented: “I am very happy to join the Boutsen Ginion Racing team for the end of the TCR International Series and also to continue the adventure with Honda in a competitive team. While trying to fight for the best possible results, I am very excited to start this new challenge in Oschersleben!”

Leopard Racing fields a third car for Jaap van Lagen

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

In order to secure maximum support for Jean-Karl Vernay in his fight for the TCR International Series title, Leopard Racing will field a third Volkswagen Golf GTI car in Oschersleben.

The Belgian team has called in Jaap van Lagen to complete the line up, alongside Vernay and Rob Huff. The Dutchman has already driven for Leopard Racing in Monza, where he replaced Huff (who had a clashing commitment), but luck was not on his side.

Stopped by an engine issue in Race 1, van Lagen started Race 2 from the back of the grid and could not recover further than the 11th position.

Danny Kroes with Ferry Monster Autosport

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Danny Kroes is the latest young driver to join the TCR International Series. The 17-year old from the Netherlands will take part in the next race meeting at the Oschersleben Motorsport Arena in a SEAT León run by Ferry Monster Autosport.

“I’m really happy to be able to drive in Oschersleben. I will try my very best to get the most out of the car and myself and to learn from competing at this top level. I am hoping to drive a full season in the TCR International Series next year and this is the ideal platform to show what I am capable of despite having only a few hours of experience in the SEAT León. It is my very first season in Touring Cars after racing a few races last year in Formula 4. Despite this I am sure that the team will give me the best possible car and I am confident that I can be competitive,” Kroes said.

Earlier this year, Kroes took part in the TCR Benelux event at Zandvoort where he finished fourth in the Qualifying Race, sharing the Ferry Monster Autosport car with Pepe Oriola, and then was classified sixth and fifth in the first and second sprint races.

Salzburgring results to be declared final

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

The results of the TCR International Series rounds 9 and 10, that took place at the Salzburgring on 11 June, will be declared final.

The results were provisional, pending the stated intention of Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing to appeal against the decision of the Stewards that had declared legal the turbochargers of the Alfa Romeo and Opel cars on the basis of the Technical Delegate’s report.

However, the team did not confirm the appeal to the Swiss Motorsport Authority, the governing body of the TCR International Series.

ADAC TCR Germany shares the stage with TCR International

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Just as in 2016, the TCR International Series will share the stage with the ADAC TCR Germany.

The series is booming in its only second season with forty or so entries. Oschersleben will host the season’s fifth and sixth rounds, following the opening event at the Motorsport Arena at the end of April and that of 11 May at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

The 2016 champion Josh Files looks eager to retain the title. The Briton has won three of the four races held so far at the wheel of his Target Competition Honda Civic and leads the standings with a comfortable margin of 55 points ahead of Sheldon van der Linde who drives a Audi RS3 LMS run by Prosport Performance. The 2016 FIA ETCC champion – and Files’ teammate – Kris Richard is lying third, a further 15 points adrift.

The only driver who has been able to beat Files so far is the young Swiss Florian Thoma, who won Oschersleben’s Race 2 in a Junior Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI.

60 cars on the grid for the TCR family photo

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Sixty TCR racing cars together on the same grid; an opportunity to take an impressive family photo of the TCR International and the ADAC TCR Germany competitors that just could not be missed.

The cars of both series were placed on the Oschersleben starting grid on Sunday morning and the gates were opened to give spectators the opportunity to take a close-up look at the racing cars and their drivers.

Seven brands were represented: Audi (17 cars), SEAT (14), Volkswagen (12), Honda (10), Opel (4), Alfa Romeo (2) and KIA (1).

Last year, for the same picture, there were 32 cars…

Japanese delegation visited Oschersleben

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

A Japanese delegation visited Oschersleben to take an inside view of both the TCR International Series and ADAC TCR Germany.

The members of the delegation were representatives of three car manufacturers with JAF, Japan’s National Sporting Authority: Kaoru Shimamura of Honda, Masahiro Moritani of Toyota and Shoichi Kamimura of Mazda.

During the weekend they also had a meeting with the TCR promoter Marcello Lotti.

TCR heads for the UK

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YES!!! FINALLY!!!

(Can you tell I’m happy about this??? – Phil)

Plans for a TCR series in the UK have taken a major step forward this week 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.

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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.

Gianni Morbidelli back on pole after 14 months

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Since the TCR International Series was launched back in 2015, Gianni Morbidelli has always been one of its reference drivers. That was the case until 14 months ago, when his luck changed and he was no longer able to fight for the top positions.

Now the former F1 racer is back at the front, claiming his first pole position since Imola 14 months ago; the first since he and the WestCoast Racing team switched to the Volkswagen Golf.

Morbidelli was consistently among the fastest drivers, if not the fastest of the pack, throughout the second Practice and Qualifying, setting a pace that nobody was able to match. His next obvious goal is getting back to the winner’s circle in tomorrow’s Race 1.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

To do this he will have to keep at bay Jaap van Lagen (Leopard Racing Volkswagen) and Daniel Lloyd (Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT), who qualified second and third and so achieving their best results since they joined the championship.

The Qualifying results also confirmed this track is better suited to the Golf and León rather then the other models. None of the Alfa Romeo and Audi drivers managed to advance to Q2, while Roberto Colciago (8th) and Mat’o Homola (10th) were the only Honda and Opel drivers to qualify in the leading group.

Homola will start from pole position on the reverse grid for Race 2 with Jean-Karl Vernay alongside him, while Attila Tassi – the current championship leader – will line up 13th on the grid for both races.

Qualifying 1: Morbidelli leads a Volkswagen 1-2-3

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Volkswagen drivers from three different teams set the first three fastest laps with Morbidelli (WestCoast racing) ahead of van Lagen (Leopard Racing) and Luca Engstler (Junior Team Engstler).

Tassi was the first to top the time sheet with a lap of 1:33.181 that was improved by Oriola’s 1:33.082 and then by Morbidelli’s 1:33.009. Oriola was the first to go under the 1:33 mark, but his provisional fastest time of 1:32.838 was disallowed for infringing track limits. It was then Vernay who jumped on top with a lap of 1:32.829, but Morbidelli raised the bar to 1:32.064, with Lloyd second (1:32.801).

The segment was disrupted once by a red flag with twelve minutes left on the clock, to sweep the gravel off the track after Møller spun at the chicane.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

When the session resumed, Engstler posted a new provisional fastest lap of 1:32.024, which was soon improved by Morbidelli’s 1:31.421 and van Lagen’s 1:31.553.

The following drivers went through to Q2: Morbidelli, van Lagen, Engstler, Oriola, Lloyd, Vernay, Altoè, Nash, Homola, Colciago, Huff and Paulsen.

Among those who did not make the cut were the points leader Tassi, the Alfa Romeo duo of Borković and Kajaia and the Audi pair of Vervisch and Comini. The latter spoiled his chances with a mistake on his last attempt.

Qualifying 2: Morbidelli beats van Lagen

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Oriola posted a 1:31.954 on his first lap out, but Morbidelli improved immediately to 1:31.908, with van Lagen moving up to second (1:31.914).

Oriola responded with a new provisional fastest lap of 1:31.834, but Morbidelli was even faster with a 1:31.426 that nobody was able to beat.

Van Lagen improved to 1:31.669 to secure second position ahead of Loyd (1:31.714), Huff (1:31.821) and Oriola.

On their last attempts, Vernay managed to climb to ninth, securing a front spot on the reverse grid for Race 2, while Engstler outbraked himself and went straight on at Turn 1.

Quotes after Oschersleben Qualifying

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Gianni Morbidelli (first): “I had almost forgotten how it feels to be in front of everyone and on pole! It’s a nice feeling and it is great, not only for me, but especially for the guys in the team, who worked so hard. After two seasons fighting for the title, it was certainly frustrating for us to go through such a difficult first part of the season with the Golf, so this is the kind of result we needed and that helps boosting the motivation. I must say that the car here has a terrific performance level and feels very good to drive. It’s the first time this year I can drive it as I really want. Nothing is done, of course, but this is a good start and we have to carry one from here.”

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Jaap van Lagen (second): “I am happy to be in the TCR International Series for the second time this year. It has been a last-minute call from the team, and although I am driving almost every weekend, it is not easy to just come and do well. One always needs a little time to re-adjust to a front wheel-drive car and the rest. Today, the Golf worked really well and without a little mistake in the last corner, I think we could have been fighting for pole. First goal for me is to help Jean-Karl Vernay in the races. We will see how things develop, as Jean-Karl is not too close in neither of the grids. I would do my race only if there is no way to help him.”

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Daniel Lloyd (third): “It’s my first time in the top-3 since I joined the TCR, so I am pleased, although as a driver, you always aspire to more. Everything came out nicely today, despite all the dirt on the track, I just focused on having a clear gap in front and behind me, and tomorrow I’ll be definitely fighting for a podium position… at least.”

TCR Germany – Oestreich takes lights-to-flag win

 

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Despite the large field of 37 cars, the start and first lap were extremely orderly, with the two men on the front row, Niels Langeveld (Audi) and Pascal Eberle (SEAT) getting passed by Moritz Oestreich (Honda) and Kris Richard (Honda).

Luca Engstler (Volkswagen) was fifth, while the championship leader Josh Files (Target Honda) took P6 on lap 2, despite starting from the seventh row. The race’s first victim was Sheldon van der Linde (Audi), who retired in the pits on lap 2 with a technical problem.

On lap 5, Simon Larsson (Audi) hit the barriers at the chicane, prompting the deployment of the Safety Car. At the restart, things stayed pretty much the same, with Engstler moving up to 4th. Steve Kirsch (Honda) passed Files for 6th, but when he tried to attack Langeveld there was a slight contact and the Honda went off-track and rejoined in P13.

On lap 14, it was Files who went straight on after some rubbing with Langeveld, losing six positions. Shortly afterwards, Langeveld was passed by Florian Thoma (Volkswagen) and Tim Zimmermann (Audi) who moved up to 4th and 5th.

The race ended in drama, as at the beginning of last lap the engine of Richard’s Honda, that had been chasing the leader Oestreich for the entire race, blew at the beginning of the straight and caught fire. Oestreich therefore won under yellow flags, preceding Eberle, Engstler, Thoma, Zimmermann and Langeveld with Files finishing tenth.

Files maintains the leadership in the standings with 166 points; Thoma has climbed to second, one point ahead of van der Linde, but with a gap of 68 from the leader.

TCR Germany – Langeveld gives first win to Audi

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Niels Langeveld of Racing One gave Audi its first victory in the TCR Germany series, although the Dutchman is currently being investigated for an incident that eliminated Florian Thoma’s Volkswagen.

Thoma made an excellent start from P2 and took the lead ahead of Steve Kirsch (Honda), Luca Engstler (Volkswagen), Langeveld and Josh Files (Honda), while Gosia Rdest’s Audi was pushed against the wall and Sheldon van der Linde’s Audi stalled on the grid.

On lap 2, Langeveld took third from Engstler, but the Safety Car was out to allow the retrieval of the Honda of Jürgen Schmarl from the gravel trap.

At the restart there was a good fight for the lead between Thoma and Kirsch, with the Swiss keeping the advantage, while Kirsch was defending the position from Langeveld. A slight contact between them sent Kirsch’s Honda into the gravel trap, with the Safety Car out again, as Jasmine Preisig’s Opel was also stuck in the gravel.

Shortly after the restart, Thoma spun in the last corner and was luckily avoided by the other cars; he rejoined in P12. Langeveld inherited the leadership ahead of Files, who passed Engstler, with Race 1 winner Morits Oestreich (Honda) fourth ahead of Harald Proczyk (SEAT) and Tom Lautenschlager (Audi).

Files has further stretched his leadership in the championship classification to 87 and 88 points ahead of Oestreich and Thoma respectively.

The ADAC TCR Germany series will resume on 22 and 23 July at Zandvoort, Netherlands.

Gianni Morbidelli scores a clean sweep in Germany as Jean-Karl Vernay retakes the point lead

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Gianni Morbidelli is back in anger after so many months of disappointment and frustration.

The Italian driver had not been able to win a race since April 2016 at Estoril, but today he reclaimed his place amongst the leading players of the TCR International Series in a very authoritative way.

In fact, he won both races at Oschersleben, scoring the maximum tally of points at stake (55, including 5 for the pole position) and giving WestCoast Racing its first victories since the Swedish team switched to the Volkswagen Golf.

Morbidelli’s win in Race 2 was a real masterpiece, as he overtook Mat’o Homola’s Opel Astra only two hundreds metres from the finish line. No wonder that while he was overjoyed, Homola felt bitter for having lost a great opportunity to score Opel’s maiden win in the series.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

The two German races proved to be ill-fated for some of the title contenders. M1RA’s Attila Tassi and Roberto Colciago, first and second in the standings before Oschersleben, left Germany without scoring, while Pepe Oriola pocketed only one miserable point in yesterday’s qualifying.

This all helped Vernay to retake the lead in the overall classification, one point ahead of Tassi; Colciago has slipped to third, with a gap of eight points, while Stefano Comini (sixth and fifth in the two races), is now only one further point adrift in fourth place. Oriola remains fifth, 43 points behind the leader.

Race 1: Morbidelli takes an authoritative win

Gianni Morbidelli converted his pole position into an authoritative and long awaited victory for himself and the WestCoast Racing team. The Italian driver made a perfect start and led from lights to flag, even in spite of the safety car intervention after an incident between Tassi and Vernay.

Daniel Lloyd claimed his first podium finish with a brilliant second place, while Rob Huff defended his third position from the assaults of James Nash.

Once again Morbidelli’s young teammate Giacomo Altoè proved consistent in finishing fifth, while Stefano Comini recovered from 17th on the grid to 6th at the chequered flag. A result that might prove crucial in the title fight, considering that none of the top-three drivers in the standings – Tassi, Roberto Colciago and Vernay – scored points.

It was an eventful race, with a number of contacts (that resulted in penalties for Vernay and Oriola), flat tyres and even a black flag to Stian Paulsen for repeatedly infringing the track limits.

RACE ONE

Grid – Vervisch was demoted (from 16th) to the back of the grid, due to an engine change

Start – Morbidelli starts well from pole and leads from Lloyd; Huff jumps to third into Turn 1, while van Lagen drops to fifth behind Nash and Oriola

2017-2017 Oschersleben Race 1---Start Race1_3.jpg

 

Lap 1 – Vernay and Tassi come together into Turn 1, they both spin and rejoin at the back

Lap 2 – Paulsen overtakes Borković for 11th

Lap 3 – Engstler overtakes Homola for 9th; Kajaia goes wide on the grass and rejoins

Lap 4 – Panis drives wide onto the grass and rejoins; Vernay hits Tassi and sends him off

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Lap 5 – The Safety Car is deployed to recover Tassi’s car; Colciago pits with a flat front tyre; Engstler retires with a pierced radiator

Lap 8 – The race resumes; Comini moves up to 8th overtaking Paulsen and Homola; Oriola overtakes van Lagen for 5th after hitting him; Vernay is given a drive-through for the incident with Tassi

Lap 9 – Kajaia overtakes Kroes for 12th

Lap 10 – Oriola is given a drive-through for the incident with van Lagen; Tassi rejoins, but is black-flagged as he received mechanical aid to exit from the gravel trap

Lap 11 – Homola defends his 7th position from van Lagen and Paulsen

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Lap 12 – Paulsen overtakes van Lagen for 8th, Borković retires with a pierced radiator

Lap 13 – Paulsen nearly loses his car and van Lagen retakes 8th

Lap 15 – Homola, Paulsen and van Lagen continue fighting; Kajaia joins the fighting trio

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Lap 17 – Møller pits with a flat front tyre; Paulsen is black-flagged for track limits

Lap 18 – Kajaia slows down with a flat front tyre

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Lap 19 – Morbidelli wins from Lloyd, Huff successfully defend third place from Nash

Race 2: Morbidelli encores after a pile up

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

It was a masterful overtaking manoeuvre that enabled Gianni Morbidelli to score his second race win of the day at Oschersleben. On the last lap and in the last-but-one turn, the Italian dived inside Mat’o Homola’s Opel to strip the young Slovak of his first victory at the wheel of the Astra.

The race was marred by a catastrophic pile-up at the start that involved eight cars and eliminated some of the top guns, such as Roberto Colciago, Pepe Oriola, Rob Huff and James Nash.

After the wrecked cars were removed, the race could finally start and offered a great fight between the first four drivers who were running bumper-to-bumper for the whole 15 laps.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Homola tried everything to keep the Volkswagen Golf cars of Jean-Karl Vernay and Morbidelli behind, although they were clearly faster. Daniel Lloyd stuck to the tail of the leading trio, waiting for a chance to improve his third place.

After Morbidelli passed Vernay for second it was quite clear that Homola’s lead was under serious threat, as the Italian had a much faster pace. Eventually, Homola’s dream of giving Opel its maiden victory in the TCR International Series melted only a few hundreds metres from the chequered flag.

Amongst the survivors were Duncan Ende and Ferenc Ficza; the American finished seventh and scored his first points in the championship, while Ficza was classified tenth (despite a pit stop) and pocketed the first point as a KIA driver.

RACE TWO

Grid – Panis is missing following an engine failure

Start – Homola starts well, but there is havoc behind him; Colciago swerves to the left and hits Vernay who is pushed against Nash; Nash’s car collects Altoè’s, Colciago is t-boned by Oriola, while Altoè bounces to the other side of the track and crashes with Paulsen, Huff and Engstler; the race is red-flagged and the surviving cars retake their original grid positions

Re-start – Of the eight cars involved in the pile up, only Vernay’s can make the grid; once again Homola makes the best start

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Lap 1 – van Lagen goes wide at Turn 1 and drops to 6th; he and Comini swap paint

Lap 2 – Borković overtakes Kajaia for 8th; van Lagen stops with a flat front tyre

Lap 3 – Vervisch overtakes Tassi for 8th; Borković retires with a broken exhaust

Lap 4 – Morbidelli overtakes Lloyd for third; Kroes overtakes Møller for 9th

Lap 5 – Vernay is chasing Homola, 0.3 seconds behind

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Lap 6 – Ficza pits with vibrations and rejoins

Lap 7 – Kajaia retires with a flat front tyre; Kroes tries to overtake Vervisch for 6th, but goes off and retires

Lap 8 – Morbidelli overtakes Vernay for second; Møller and Demoustier fight for 8th

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Lap 9 – Homola, Morbidelli and Vernay are covered by only 7 tenths

Lap 11 – The leading quartet of Homola, Morbidelli, Vernay and Lloyd deliver a close battle for victory; Demoustier and Møller are given drive-through penalties for track limits

Lap 13 – Tassi retires with a flat front tyre

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Lap 15 – Morbidelli overtakes Homola on the last-but-one turn and wins; Homola keeps second ahead of Vernay and Lloyd

Driver quotes after the Oschersleben races

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Gianni Morbidelli (1st in Race 1 & Race 2): “There couldn’t be a better day than this. I am really happy for the entire team, and also quite proud of myself. It looks like we finally woke up and this gives us tremendous motivation. In Race 1, I had a good start and pushed to build a gap, but I had to do it all over again after the safety-car period. It wasn’t easy but everything went well. In Race 2, I was lucky to escape the big crash at the start. Without it, I certainly couldn’t have repeated the win, but this is motorsport and sometimes you need some luck. The pace of the car was excellent and I could do some nice overtakes on Lloyd and Vernay, always between turn 11 and 12, where I knew I was faster than the others. With Homola it didn’t work the first time, but then, in the very last lap, I succeeded. Now, we can go on holidays satisfied!”

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Daniel Lloyd (2nd in Race 1): “It was quite a good weekend for me, I am happy with the pace, as I am getting closer to the top guys. Gianni, though, was really unreachable in Race 1. In Race 2, I was lucky not to be caught up in the big crash, but my pace at the restart was not what we expected.”

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Mat’o Homola (2nd in Race 2): “Clearly, I am disappointed to lose a possible first win for Opel only two corners from the end, after controlling the entire race, but Gianni did a great job. We had done most of the job, always pushing and trying to save the tyres, but it wasn’t enough. Still, I think we have to see the positive side: we are making consistent progress and we were not expecting to have such a good pace on a track like this. All in all, we can be satisfied.”

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Rob Huff (3rd in Race 1): “I had a very good start in Race 1, but after 2-3 laps, it was clear to me that I didn’t have the pace to stay with the guys in front, so I focused in taking no risks, not ruin the tyres on the kerbs and control the SEAT cars behind me. In Race 2, I thought I was almost through the turmoil, after going left and right, right and left and almost stop to avoid the cars going in all directions. I was almost clear when I was hit quite violently from the back, and that was it.”

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Jean-Karl Vernay (3rd in Race 2): “To be leading the points standings after a weekend like this is almost incredible and makes me very happy. Especially after Race 1 in which I got no points. Race 2 was eventful as well. I was sandwiched at the start between Colciago and Oriola, there was nothing I could do. When the race restarted, I tried to resist to Gianni, but he was faster than me and had also to defend myself from Lloyd. I felt I was a little bit quicker than Homola but not enough to pass him for second.”

The TCR International Series will resume after the summer break at Buriram’s Chang International Circuit, Thailand, on September 2 and 3.

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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!!!

2017 TCR International Series – Hungary

The TCR International Series visits Hungary for the first time

For the first time since it was launched three years ago, the TCR International Series visits Hungary and will race at the famous Hungaroring.

Built in 1986 near the village of Mogyoród, the circuit hosted the first Formula One Grand Prix to be held behind the Iron Curtain and since then the Hungarian GP has always taken place there. Its layout has been modified twice; in 1989 to remove the chicane after Turn 3 and then again in 2003, when the pit straight was extended and Turns 1 and 14 were modified.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

The combination of different kinds of corners and the elevation changes, makes the Hungaroring one of the most interesting and demanding modern racetracks from a driver’s point of view.

The Hungarian event also marks the first time the TCR International Series supports the DTM.

Success ballast for Comini, Borković and Colciago

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

With a couple of third places at the Salzburgring, Stefano Comini took the leadership in the standings, but also won the maximum Success Ballast for Hungaroring.

Comini was the highest scorer in Austria, with 30 points, only one more than Dušan Borković, the winner of Race 1, who scored 29. Therefore Comini will carry 30 kilos of Success Ballast against Borković’s 20.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Colciago, who won the second race, was the third best scorer and will be given 10 kilos of ballast (Thomas Jäger actually scored the same amount of points, but won’t be racing in Hungary).

As a result, Comini’s Audi RS3 LMS will weigh 1360kg (1285kg minimum weight + 30kg Success Ballast + 45kg Balance of Performance adjustment), while Borković’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta will have a running weight of 1305kg (1285kg + 20kg SB) and Colciago’s Honda Civic 1315kg (1285kg + 10kg SB + 30kg BoP).

The Austrian races shook up the standings

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Jean-Karl Vernay was only one of the drivers who had close encounters with the barriers at Salzburgring’s Turn 9, although his incident was far less disastrous than Tassi’s, Ficza’s and Huff’s.

However, when the Frenchman’s Volkswagen Golf GTI went off on the last-but-one lap of Race 1, it not only sidelined him for the second race, but also cost him the leadership in the Drivers’ standings that he’d held since the event in Bahrain.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

By finishing third in both the Austrian races, Stefano Comini became the new leader for the first time in the current season. The Swiss’ tally of 125 points is only three points better than Roberto Colciago’s, while Vernay has slipped down to third position, twelve points behind his former teammate.

Despite the high speed shunt in which he destroyed his Honda Civic during Friday’s testing, Attila Tassi was able to take part in the rest of the weekend at the wheel of a new car that was hastily trucked from JAS’ workshop in Italy. This helped the young Hungarian to arrive at his home event while lying fourth in the classification, with a gap of 27 points.

Michelisz is the guest star for his home event

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

After celebrating on the podium at the Salzburgring as the M1RA team owner, Norbert Michelisz will be the guest of honour for this weekend’s TCR International Series event at the Hungaroring.

For his home race meeting, he will be at the wheel of a Honda Civic Type-R run by his own M1RA team alongside regular drivers Roberto Colciago and Attila Tassi.

One of the most highly-rated Touring Car drivers, Michelisz has already raced the TCR-spec Honda, taking part in several rounds of last year’s TCR Benelux series in which he claimed six victories.

“I have two goals for this weekend. The first one is to help Attila Tassi and Roberto Colciago in scoring as many points as possible. Both of them are fighting for the championship and M1RA’s main goal is to be successful as a team. I will be a guest driver in the event, so my personal interests are less important. On the other hand I would also like to have a podium finish in front of the Hungarian fans. This would be the best way to give something back them in exchange for their fantastic support,” Michelisz said.

Work in progress: Leopard Racing and M1RA

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Two teams are working hard to make up for the damage obtained at the Salzburgring.

Hungary-based M1RA returned to its workshop with the aim of assembling a brand new Honda Civic for Norbert Michelisz’s debut in the TCR International Series.

The plan for Michelisz’s participation in the Hungaroring event was seriously endangered when Attila Tassi crashed on Friday during a test session at the Salzburgring. In fact, Tassi’s replacement car was originally intended for Michelisz. However, as there was not enough time to build another car, it was decided to rent a TCR Civic from another team.

Leopard Racing had an even worse weekend in Austria, as both Rob Huff and Jean-Karl Vernay crashed at Turn 9 during Race 1, a few minutes from each other.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Vernay’s Volkswagen Golf was extensively damaged, however it can be repaired. And the team is currently working on stripping and rebuilding it in a temporary workshop near Budapest.

Huff’s Golf, on the other hand, suffered from terminal damage so a brand new car for him has been dispatched from SEAT Motorsport in Martorell, Barcelona. It is due to be delivered to the team overnight between Wednesday and Thursday, which will leave less than thirty-six hours for the team to complete it and check everything before Huff will sit at the wheel for the first practice on Friday afternoon.

The ‘Michelisz effect’ attracts a number of Hungarian drivers

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

You could call it the ‘Michelisz effect’. In fact, there is no doubt that Norbert Michelisz’s successful career has triggered an avalanche of young Hungarian drivers in different Touring Car series.

It is no wonder, then, that eight locals will make up the majority of the TCR International Series field at the Hungaroring. Two of them are regulars Attila Tassi and Ferenc Ficza, while another is Michelisz himself.

Zengő Motorsport enters one KIA and four SEAT cars

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

The Zengő Motorsport team intends to do things in a big way at home and has entered no fewer than five cars: one KIA cee’d and four SEAT Leóns.

The KIA will be in the hands of Ferenc Ficza, one of the drivers who escaped spectacular high-speed shunts at the Salzburgring. In the first Hungarian race, Ficza will drop to the back of the grid thanks to an engine change that occurred before the Austrian event.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

The four SEAT cars will be driven by Dániel Nagy, Csaba Toth, Csaba Mór and Anett György.

Nagy is the most experienced of the group, having raced for the team in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. He has also already made an appearance in the TCR International Series, two years ago at the Red Bull Ring, when he created a surprise by posting a brilliant third fastest lap in Qualifying.

Unicorse to run a Giulietta for Márk Jedlóczky

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

The Unicorse Team will run a Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR for Márk L. Jedlóczky.

After successfully playing handball, 18-year old Jedlóczky began his racing career in 2014 with three victories from the four slaloms in which he took part. In 2015 and 2016 he competed in the Hungarian FRT Series, a mix of slalom and rally events on asphalt, finishing as vice-champion last year.

During the current season he had his very first experience in TCR cars, driving a Zengő Motorsport SEAT León in the opening event of the FIA Central European Zone Circuit Championship at the Hungaroring, where he dominated the class D6-5 in qualifying and both races.

István Bernula drives for Botka Rally Team

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

A second KIA cee’d TCR will be run by Botka Rally Team for István Bernula.

The team, managed by Levente Kazinczky, was among the first to place an order for the STARD-built KIA and has just received the racing car.

István Bernula is the driver who will have the honour of driving the Korean car in its maiden race meeting. Besides racing mostly in Hungary, the 34-year old Bernula has already gained some international experience in the Suzuki Swift (2nd in 2014) and Lotus Exige European cups. Bernula has been a triple Suzuki champion, once in Europe (2015) and twice in Hungary (2015 and 2016).

Norbert Michelisz on pole for his home races with Vernay second and Tassi third

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Norbert Michelisz’s pole position at the Hungaroring was eagerly anticipated, especially since he had been fastest in both the Free Practice sessions.

Unsurprisingly, Michelisz did not let his fans down. After being stripped of the fastest lap in Q1 and finishing behind Jean-Karl Vernay, Hungary’s sports hero responded by setting a new lap record for the TCR cars of 1:52.740.

For a brief moment there was an all-M1RA front row for Race 1, as Attila Tassi had posted a provisional second fastest lap behind his ‘boss’, but Vernay spoiled the party with a lap of 1:53.354.

Mat’o Homola placed his Opel Astra fourth, ahead of Pepe Oriola’s SEAT and Roberto Colciago in the third M1RA Honda. Rob Huff and a brilliant Stian Paulsen ranked seventh and eighth, while Daniel Lloyd had his ninth fastest lap disallowed for not respecting the track limits.

This promoted the WestCoast Racing duo of Gianni Morbidelli and Giacomo Altoè to ninth and tenth, which means that they will fill the front row on the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2.

Qualifying was extremely disappointing for the Audi and Alfa Romeo drivers, as none of them managed to even make the cut for Q2.

After a frustrating start in Practice 2, Ferenc Ficza completed his first laps in the brand new Zengő Motorsport KIA cee’d. It was, however, just a shake down for the Korean car that has still to show its potential.

Qualifying 1: Vernay beats Michelisz

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Vernay was the very first driver who was able to be faster than Michelisz since TCR action began at the Hungaroring. The Frenchman and his Volkswagen Golf posted a fastest lap of 1:53.030 in the dying moments of Q1. On his last lap, Michelisz improved as well, but not enough; he settled into second position with a lap of 1:53.209.

The Hungarian actually posted the fastest lap (1:52.847), however it was disallowed for exceeding track limits. A number of other drivers were hit by the same penalty for the same infringement.

Tassi was third with a lap of 1:53.067 that had provisionally placed him on top of the time sheet after Michelisz’ penalty and before Vernay’s final effort.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Møller and Paulsen did a great job, advancing to Q2 for the first time, while Vesnić was soon sidelined by a technical problem.

Among the top drivers who did not make the cut were Nash (13th), Vervisch (14th), Kajaia (16th), the points leader Comini (17th) and Borković (18th), meaning that there were no Audi, nor Alfa Romeo cars in Q2.

The following drivers went through: Vernay, Michelisz, Tassi, Oriola, Altoè, Lloyd, Homola, Huff, Møller, Colciago, Morbidelli and Paulsen.

Qualifying 2: Michelisz set pole position

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Homola was the fastest after the first flying laps, with a time of 1:53.495. However the ten-minute segment was red-flagged around halfway, when Møller made a mistake while braking into Turn 1 and crashed into the barriers.

When action resumed, less than five minutes were left on the clock, meaning that the drivers had the possibility to complete only two timed laps.

Michelisz was immediately able to post a time of 1:52.740 that gave him pole position; on his last lap Tassi was clocked at 1:53.406 and provisionally climbed to second, but Vernay improved to 1:53.364 and demoted the young Hungarian to third.

Qualifying update: Homola excluded from Qualifying

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Mat’o Homola had all of his qualifying times cancelled by the Stewards following the report of the Technical Delegate that found the Opel Astra did not conform to the homologation paper.

Should the car be modified to return within conformity, Homola will be allowed to start in Sunday’s races from the back of the grid.

Two drivers will also be demoted to the back of the grid because of engine changes: Frédéric Vervisch (who had qualified 14th) and Ferenc Ficza (23rd). Ficza should have paid the penalty in the previous event at the Salzburgring, but couldn’t because he destroyed his car in a crash during the Free Practice.

What the fastest drivers said after Qualifying

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Norbert Michelisz (first): “It’s an amazing day, very nice to be on pole at my home track, in front of my fans, and driving for the first time a car of my team… I was quite emotional about it since yesterday. It’s being a wonderful experience and I want to thank all the people in the team, I am so proud of them. The car behaved well, although we still have some understeer, but if you make the fastest lap, you can’t complain. Tomorrow, in the races, I will try to help Attila and Roberto, if I can, but of course, in a sportive way and without messing around! This is my main goal, to help the team scoring points, although I don’t hide that a podium finish in front of my crowd would be great.”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Jean-Karl Vernay (second): “First of all, I would like to say how great it is to have another top-class driver such as Norbert in the series. The presence of guys like him or Rob Huff is really a plus, also for us drivers. Today’s result makes me very happy, as it comes as a nice reward after the very difficult week the team had. Last Sunday, at the Salzburgring, we finished with two wrecks instead of two cars and I too wasn’t in a very good shape… To be able to be here with two cars in perfect conditions and me relatively fit is simply great. This is a good track for the Golf and one I like a lot, so tomorrow the objective will be to score as many points as possible. I don’t think we will be in a position to beat the Honda cars, which are very fast, especially at the start, but if I can score as many points as Colciago and Comini, it will be good.”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Attila Tassi (third): “We did a few changes in the set-up of the car that worked well. I did a little mistake in Q2, which sent me off the limits, and my time was disallowed, but all in all, I am pretty satisfied. Tomorrow, I hope in a good start and a good race, it is not entirely true that you can’t overtake, there are a few places where you can do it, but I will not share my secrets… Racing at home, after the big shunt in Austria, and alongside Norbi is very special, but I do not feel more pressure than usual. It’s good to have Norbi… out of the car, that’s one serious rival less, but it is also nice to have him racing, as he can contribute a lot with his feedback and knowledge.”  

More quotes after Hungarian Qualifying

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Ferenc Ficza: “I really took the day as a shake-down, but the 4-5 laps I could do in Qualifying were very interesting to get a first impression about the car, which is very positive. It behaves well and has a lot of power, I think there it has a high potential.”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Davit Kajaia: “Both Dušan and I missed Q2 and there was little more we could do. This, with all these slow and medium corners, is the worst track of the season for the Giulietta…”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Stefano Comini: “With so much more weight because of the BoP and the Success Ballast, the car is simply undrivable and even dangerous. It feels like a tank, not a car!”

Attila Tassi wins twice and leads the standings

2017-2017 Hungaroring Race 1---Attila Tassi (1)

Attila Tassi turned 18 recently and couldn’t have hoped for a better way to celebrate his birthday. In fact, the Hungaroring event turned into a triumph for him, the M1RA team and Norbert Michelisz who played the double role of team principal and driver.

Tassi broke his duck and claimed his first victories in the TCR International Series, which enabled him to jump from fourth to first in the Drivers’ classification with a margin of six points ahead of his teammate Roberto Colciago.

Michelisz accomplished his mission of ‘bodyguard’ in both races, protecting Tassi’s shoulders in Race 1 and Colciago’s in Race 2, and stealing previous points from Jean-Karl Vernay twice. The Frenchman tried everything to overtake Michelisz, but in the end had to settle with a third and a seventh that earned him enough points to stay in touch with the two leaders, 13 points behind Tassi and seven behind Colciago.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

As for the other title contenders, Stefano Comini had a nightmare weekend, struggling to stay on the pace with the full Success Ballast onboard, and scored only one point, dropping from first to fourth in the standings, 25 points behind Tassi.

Pepe Oriola returned to the podium by finishing second in Race 2 and so climbed to fifth in the standings with a gap of 42 points.

After scoring his first points last week in Austria, Jens Reno Møller performed brilliantly in the second race, leading for 10 out of the 14 laps and finishing third, claiming a podium place for the first time. His and Stian Paulsen’s results (the Norwegian was eighth in Race 2) proved that in TCR the smaller teams can actually fight on equal ground with larger and richer outfits.

Race 1: Tassi wins as Michelisz’s plan is successful

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Norbert Michelisz proved that he’s not only a superstar driver, but also a fine strategist. After setting pole position yesterday, he made it clear that his aim was to help his protégé Attila Tassi to win his first race and to claim a podium result for himself.

His plan was a complete success!

The icing on the cake was Roberto Colciago’s fourth place that propelled the Italian driver to the top of the standings, while the previous leader, Stefano Comini, did not score and so dropped to fourth.

Tassi, Michelisz, the whole M1RA crew and the many spectators couldn’t hide their emotion when the Hungarian anthem was played on the podium.

There was a lack of position changes among the top drivers, while a number of battles raged for the other positions and several drivers were warned for repeatedly infringing the track limits.

After starting from the back of the grid because of a technical infringement in Qualifying, Mat’o Homola completed a strong recovery to finish 10th; Ferenc Ficza obtained an encouraging 16th position with the debutant KIA cee’d of Zengő Motorsport, although he was later dropped to 19th by a 30-second penalty for a grid position infringement.

RACE ONE

Grid: Vervisch (engine change) and Homola (technical infringement) are both demoted (from 14th and 4th) to the back of the grid; Ficza is also dropped (from 23rd to 24th) because of a penalty received in the previous event.

Warm up lap: Bernula’s KIA remains in the pit lane as the team is working to solve a gearbox problem

Start: Michelisz and Tassi make a great start and Michelisz allows Tassi into the lead; behind them, Colciago and Vernay swap third position a couple of times

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Lap 1: Vernay keeps third ahead of Colciago and Oriola; Ende retires with differential problems

Lap 2: Vernay is threatening Michelisz’s second place; Huff follows in sixth position and is chased by Lloyd and Nash; Borković pits after contact with Comini, then rejoins

Lap 3: Paulsen drives on the gravel and pits after a contact with Morbidelli; Huff stops on the track with a pierced radiator

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Lap 4: Homola recovers to 12th, Ficza to 16th

Lap 5: Morbidelli is chasing Nash who is 7th

Lap 6: Kajaia defends the 10th place from Vervisch and Homola

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Lap 8: Colciago and Oriola run two-abreast while fighting for 4th; Vervisch stops on track with a differential problem

Lap 9: Comini and Møller fight for 12th; Demoustier, Ficza and Nagy are immediately behind them

Lap 10: Demoustier overtakes Møller for 13th

Lap 11: Altoè overtakes Morbidelli for 8th

Lap 12: Homola overtakes Kajaia for 10th

Lap 13: Nagy overtakes Ficza for 15th

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Lap 14: Tassi claims his maiden win ahead of Michelisz and Vernay

Driver quotes after the Hungaroring Race 1

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Attila Tassi (winner): “I am really happy. To win my first TCR International race here at home, in front of my home crowd, is just a dream come true, the best feeling I had so far in my career. I took a good start, and clearly, Norbi protected my… shoulders, I only had to focus on the corners and preserving the tyres, without having to look into the mirrors. In the last couple of laps, I started having some brake and understeer problems, but kept everything under control.”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Norbert Michelisz (second): “It all went according to the plan, but I must stress that Attila really won this race on his own merit, taking a perfect start. He completely deserved this first win, and he has done tremendous progress this year. I know exactly how he must feel at this very moment, and I also feel emotional about it, it’s like winning myself. During the race, I just tried to leave Attila some breathing space, but I had to make every effort to cover the lines and defend my position from Jean-Karl, who was faster in some portions of the track. Now, we should avoid over-celebrating, there is another race later and we need to stay focused.”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Jean-Karl Vernay (third): “It was a pleasure to fight with Norbi, really a great moment. I took a good start, but not good enough to pass the Honda cars, which are so fast at the start. Still, I could pass Colciago, we fought for a couple of corner, but I managed to stay ahead. I am happy with this result, as the objective was precisely to score some heavy points.”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Roberto Colciago (fourth): “It’s not a bad result under the circumstances. Something changed in my car after three laps, there was a sudden drop of performance, we don’t understand why. It has nothing to do with success ballast.”

Race 2: Another win for Tassi and podium for Møller

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Attila Tassi completed his and M1RA’s perfect home weekend by claiming another victory and so became the first TCR International Series driver to score two wins in the same weekend since Pepe Oriola in Bahrain last year; a feat that drove the Hungarian fans crazy and propelled the 18-year old Tassi to the top of the standings.

Jens Reno Møller was the other hero of the race, as he led for most of the 14 laps and eventually finished third; the first podium result for the Dane that came out of the blue considering that he crashed his Honda Civic yesterday during the Qualifying, which forced his team to work until 5:00am.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Oriola was clearly determined to score as many points as possible in order not to lose contact with the points leaders; he was able to move up from fifth to second, overtaking Colciago, Altoè and finally Møller on the last lap.

Norbert Michelisz completed his job, by finishing sixth and keeping Jean-Karl Vernay at bay for the whole race, which helped his teammates Tassi and Colciago to build a margin over the Frenchman in the standings.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Two other drivers deserve mentions: Giacomo Altoè and Stian Paulsen. Even younger than Tassi, Altoè did his best to obtain his first podium; eventually he finished immediately behind the top three, but showed he has the speed and maturity to become a top driver. As for Paulsen, he finished eighth and so finally scored his first points in the International Series.

RACE TWO

Grid: Nagy’s SEAT is missing due to an oil leak from the engine

Start: Møller sprints from the pole position, followed by Altoè and Tassi who jumps from eighth position to third; there is a series of contacts as the field negotiates Turn 1 and as the dust settles, the count of wrecked cars consists of Kajaia’s Alfa Romeo, Morbidelli’s Volkswagen and Lloyd’s SEAT

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Lap 1: the safety car is deployed

Lap 4: the race resumes

Lap 5: Michelisz overtakes Paulsen for 6th; Huff overtakes Demoustier for 12th

Lap 6: Tassi overtakes Altoè for second; Oriola overtakes Colciago for fourth

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Lap 7: Altoè defends his third place from Oriola; Homola overtakes Demoustier for 13th

Lap 8: Comini overtakes Huff for 11th; Borković retires with power steering failure

Lap 9: Comini, Huff and Homola have a close fight for 11th with a few contacts; Ende retires with electrical problems

Lap 10: Tassi closes the gap from Møller to three tenths

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Lap 11: Tassi takes the lead from Møller; Vernay tries in vain to overtake Michelisz

Lap 12: Oriola overtakes Altoè for third; Vervisch stops on the track with a broken suspension; Vesnić retires with brake problems

Lap 13: Oriola overtakes Møller for second

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Lap 14: Tassi claims his second victory of the day, from Oriola and Møller who finishes on the podium for the first time

Driver quotes after the Hungaroring Race 2

2017-2017 Hungaroring Race 2---09 Attila Tassi_184.jpg

Attila Tassi (winner): “It’s unbelievable what was happening this weekend! I could never expect such a day and I am really happy. I turned 18 last Wednesday and this was really a great present! I took a very good start, but there was a slight contact with Altoè in turn 1, and my steering got a little bit damaged. Still, I could pass him shortly after and then started chasing Møller when he made a small mistake. I am now leading the standings, which is great, but it doesn’t mean much, as the fight is so close and the leader keeps changing…”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Pepe Oriola (second): “I really wanted to finish on the podium after some recent disappointments, and I am very happy with the result and with my race. We changed something in the car between Race 1 and Race 2 and it proved effective. Being able to overtake Colciago, Altoè and Møller on such a track was not bad at all. My only problem was at the restart after the safety car, I was caught a little by surprise, as the radio was not working. It was also a good result for staying in the fight for the championship, which will go on to the very end. Still, today’s hero is Attila, I want to congratulate him warmly, and I know what it is to clinch one’s first success at a very young age, he has a bright future ahead. We also welcome him in the selected club of drivers that have won both races of a same event, we aren’t so many!”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Jens Reno Møller (third): “Twenty-four hours ago we were looking at a severely damaged car and almost packing to go home… now we are on the podium, it has been a fantastic comeback, so I am obviously very happy. We just told ourselves that we could not let go the opportunity of starting from the pole in Race 2 and we decided to have a try on fixing the car… We are a small privateer team, with five guys that worked until 5 am to repair everything and did it wonderfully. I took a great start and tried to build a gap, I think I did quite a good job. Tassi could only pass a few laps from the end, when I did a small mistake at turn 12. By then my tyres were dead, and eventually also Oriola passed, but third is a great result, given that our target is the European trophy finale in Adria…”

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Giacomo Altoè (fourth): “It has been a tough race, I never sweat so much, but it’s a good result, actually the team’s best this season, although it is a little bit disappointing to miss the podium by so little. At the start, I had to keep Tassi at bay and dived very early into first corner. The back of my car slid and I hit him slightly, luckily with no damage for either. Oriola’s pressure was really heavy for most of the race and I could resist up to the moment my tyres were ok. The car has improved a lot, the tests we did at Adria before the Salzburgring actually helped to understand many things about the Golf. The improvements were not so evident in Austria, because of the long straights, but were much more visible here, and we are very confident ahead of Oschersleben, which should suit the Golf.”

Ferenc Ficza is positive about the KIA’s potential

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Despite only taking delivery of the brand new KIA cee’d TCR early on Saturday, Ferenc Ficza demonstrated the car’s future potential by finishing 15th and 14th after twice starting from the back of the grid.

In fact, the Korean car had stopped during its very first lap in yesterday’s Free Practice due to a broken throttle cable. Therefore, Ficza was finally only able to drive the KIA for the first time during Qualifying and treated the session as a shake down. He qualified 23rd and lost another position on the grid due to a penalty from the previous event.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

In both races, the young Hungarian was able to recover, although another penalty for a grid position infringement dropped him from 15th to 19th in Race 1.

The second race saw him again climbing up to 14th, which would have earned one point for KIA in the Model of the Year Trophy should the car not have been racing under a temporary homologation form.

“I was able to complete both races, which was an achievement in itself considering that we missed both free practice sessions and the car only turned a wheel for the first time during Qualifying. There is still a lot of work to do; the set-up has to be done from scratch, and I hope that we will have the budget to do some testing, but the car has great potential. It feels completely different from anything I have driven so far, but I am really impressed,” Ficza said.

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

The series will resume at Oschersleben’s Motorsport Arena, Germany for rounds 13 and 14 on July 8 and 9.

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!!!

2017 TCR International Series – Austria

Alpine challenge for the TCR International Series competitors

For the third time the TCR International Series returns to the Salzburgring, one of the championship’s favourite locations thanks to its superb alpine setting, the local people’s warm welcome and the characteristics of the racetrack itself; fast, demanding and perfectly suited to Touring Car competition.

The two previous visits of the series provided four different winners in very different weather conditions.

2016-2016 Salzburgring Qualifying---08 Mikhail Grachev_83 (1)

Kevin Gleason (Honda Civic) and Michel Nykjær (SEAT León) won the 2015 races in the sunshine, while Mikhail Grachev (Honda Civic) won last year’s first race on a dry track, but under the threat of rain, benefiting from a technical issue that stopped Pepe Oriola’s SEAT with only four laps to go.

TCR series Salzburgring, Austria 04 - 05 June 2016

The rain arrived in time for the second race, flooding the track; Jean-Karl Vernay (Volkswagen Golf) made fewer mistakes than anybody else and surfaced as the winner.
Set up is crucial at the Salzburgring, to avoid issues with wear of the front-left tyre. It is also important to survive the risks of a pile-up at the first chicane and avoid high-speed contacts that may result in massive damage to the cars.

Colciago, Vervisch and Comini will carry ballast

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Roberto Colciago, Frédéric Vervisch and Stefano Comini all carry Success Ballast during the next event of the TCR International Series at the Salzburgring.

Colciago was the highest scorer in the previous events at Monza with 47 points, which means that his Honda Civic will be laden by the maximum 30-kilo ballast, while Comtoyou Racing’s teammates Vervisch and Comini will carry 20 and 10 extra kilos on board their Audi RS3 LMS cars.

As a result, Colciago’s Honda will weigh 1345kg (1285kg minimum weight + 30kg Success Ballast + 30kg Balance of Performance adjustment), while the running weight of Vervisch’s and Comini’s cars 1350kg (1285kg + 20kg SB + 45kg BoP) and 1340kg (1285kg + 10kg SB + 45kg BoP) respectively.

Just as in Spa-Francorchamps, car performance is due to be especially affected at the Salzburgring because of the long uphill part and hard braking points.

A three-way fight to lead the standings

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

The previous event in Monza gave Roberto Colciago and Stefano Comini the opportunity to close the gap from Jean-Karl Vernay, who jumped to the top of the standings at the series’ third round, Race 1 in Bahrain.

Colciago was able to cut the gap by twenty-five points and Comini by seven, which means that they are currently lying in second and third, 16 and 18 points behind Vernay respectively.

Colciago’s teammate Attila Tassi ranks fourth, 37 points from the leader, with Pepe Oriola in fifth position, a further ten points adrift.

Something new in a strong twenty-three-car field

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

A strong field of twenty-three cars will compete at the Salzburgring, where the series welcomes some new teams and drivers.

The returns of Rob Huff and Duncan Ende

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Both Rob Huff and Duncan Ende were forced to skip the previous event in Monza.
The Briton had already committed to race in the WTCC event at the Hungaroring; in Austria he will rejoin the TCR International Series for the rest of the season as Jean-Karl Vernay’s teammate at the wheel of a Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI car.

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

After suffering with the performance of their SEAT León car, Ende and Icarus Motorsport decided to take a pause to replace the DSG gearbox with a sequential racing unit. Now they return to the championship with the confidence of running a more competitive car.

Demoustier joins Homola at DG Sport Compétition

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

From the Salzburgring event, Grégoire Demoustier will join DG Sport Compétition as Mat’o Homola’s teammate.

The 26-year old Frenchman has gained significant experience in different categories, including professional series like the FIA GT and Touring Car World Championships.

“Even though I have the experience of two WTCC seasons, I will need to get used to the Opel Astra TCR. This is why I have not set myself a precise goal for Salzburgring. There I will focus on taking my bearings at the wheel of the car and becoming acquainted with the team.”

“Watching the TCR races I saw that drivers fight hard for positions, but I’m not worried about this. I’m very excited to begin this new chapter in my racing career,” said Demoustier who drove a Volkswagen Golf TCR last year during the TCR Benelux finale at Mettet.

Thomas Jäger to drive for Kissling Motorsport

 

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Twenty-three-year old Austrian driver Thomas Jäger will make his first appearance in the TCR International Series for his home race meeting at the wheel of an Opel Astra TCR run by the Kissling Motorsport team.

“It is going to be my first experience in a front-wheel drive racing car,” explained Jäger who has raced so far in karting, Formula and rear-wheel drive Touring cars. “We tested the Astra TCR three weeks ago and I felt immediately at ease driving it. Now I will be focusing in doing my best in what is also my first race ever at the Salzburgring and in one of the most competitive Touring Car series in the world.”

Seasonal debut for the Top Run Subaru WRX TCR

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

The Top Run-built Subaru WRX STI TCR will make its season debut in the International Series after the Italian engineering company has worked to update the Japanese car with the aim of improving reliability.

“We have recently completed a very satisfactory test at Adria, where the car has run without the lesser technical issue. And this make us confident that we will be able to show its actual potential in Austria,” said team manager Renato Russo.

Top Run’s regular driver Luigi Ferrara will be at the wheel of the Subaru.

Milovan Vesnić is ready for his maiden appearance

2017-2017 Salzburgring Friday---31 Milovan Vesnic_53

After years of racing in different European racing series, multiple Serbian and FIA Central European Zone Touring Car champion Milovan Mikica Vesnić is now ready for his maiden appearance in the TCR International Trophy.

The 40-year old Vesnić joins with the aim of taking part in the TCR European Trophy event at the end of the season, just like Stian Paulsen and Jens Reno Møller.

“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 our country at our best,” said Vesnić who will drive an Audi RS 3 LMS run by the all-Serbian racing team ASK Vesnić.

Pit Lane Competizioni enters an Audi for Enrico Bettera

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

One of the very first Italian teams to commit to TCR, Pit Lane Competizioni will make its first appearance in the International Series fielding an Audi RS3 LMS for Enrico Bettera.

The team is already taking part successfully in the TCR Italy series with Bettera’s Audi and a SEAT León for Nicola Baldan who won the first race in Misano last Saturday. Pit Lane Competizioni is also running a parallel programme in the 24H Series.

“This is a new and stimulating challenge. We started in TCR last year with one win and three podiums, this season we have finished second in the Silverstone 24 hours, now we are ready for the next step. I haven’t fixed any goal, because the level of the International Series is extremely high, but we can learn a lot by racing against the best teams and drivers,” commented Bettera who was a three-time Touring Car champion in the Italian Cup (2013 to 2015) before switching to TCR Italy in 2016 in which he scored one race win on his way to being classified sixth in the final standings.

A TCR class in the 2018 IMSA Continental Tire Challenge

2017-2017 Monza Race 2---Start Race2_12 (1).jpg

North American debut in January at Daytona International Speedway…

WSC Ltd, the rights holder for TCR, and International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), today confirmed plans for a TCR class to begin competing in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, beginning in 2018.

The TCR class will run in addition to the two existing Continental Tire Challenge classes, Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) next season.

“We began our due diligence process on the potential introduction of the TCR platform more than a year ago, and formally announced that we were exploring the concept last year,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “We engaged our automotive partners and teams throughout the discovery process and determined that TCR would be an attractive addition to the Continental Tire Challenge. We are pleased to work together with WSC CEO Marcello Lotti and Sporting and Series Director Nunzia Corvino to introduce what we believe will be a popular class to IMSA fans and participants.”

Through its partnership with WSC, IMSA will use TCR cars fully homologated by WSC in the new Continental Tire Challenge class. The TCR class is projected to slot in between GS and ST, based on its current level of performance.

TCR International Series Bahrain, Sakhir 14 -16 April 2017

As the market develops for TCR-spec cars, IMSA has the additional, exclusive right to establish TCR USA and TCR Canada as standalone series. IMSA, in cooperation with WSC, also now holds the right to sublicense the proper use of TCR specifications to other sanctioning bodies in the territory as well.

“TCR has quickly become the standard global Touring Car platform,” said Lotti. “Our goal was to once again create a base for Touring Car racing. The crucial part about it was to keep the costs for the cars low to ensure equality of opportunity. In North America, we believed IMSA was the most professional partner available in the market and we could not be more pleased to establish this partnership together.”

Current TCR manufacturers with a presence in North America include Audi, Ford, Honda, Alfa Romeo, KIA, Subaru and Volkswagen.

TCR cars will make their Continental Tire Challenge debut next January at the Daytona International Speedway during the three-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona, with their first race planned for the day preceding the 2018 Rolex 24.

Mat’o Homola sets pole in Qualifying as Opel and Alfa provide front row for Race 1

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

For the second time this season, Mat’o Homola and his DG Sport Compétition Opel Astra emerged as the fastest combination in the Qualifying session. However, unlike in Bahrain where he was demoted by a grid penalty, the young Slovak starts from pole position for Race 1.

Qualifying confirmed that the gaps in lap times at the Salzburgring are the smallest and positions were disputed by thousandths of a second. Homola’s fastest lap in Q2 of 1:25.481 beat Dušan Borković’s 1:25.552 by 71 thousandths, while Pepe Oriola qualified in third, a further six thousandths adrift.

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Attila Tassi ranked fourth, a result that couldn’t even have been hoped for 24 hours earlier, after his massive shunt in testing. Local driver and TCR newcomer Thomas Jäger claimed a brilliant fifth position in the Kissling Motorsport Opel Astra, beating International Touring Car top guns such as James Nash, Rob Huff, Stefano Comini, Gianni Morbidelli and Roberto Colciago.

The latter will start Race 2 from pole position on the top-ten reverse grid.
The most disappointed driver today was Davit Kajaia, who set the fastest lap in Q1, but had it disallowed by the Stewards for improving under yellow flags.

Q1: Kajaia’s fastest lap disallowed

2017-2017 Salzburgring Friday---16 Davit Kajaia_22

There was a lot of position-swapping during the first twenty minutes of Qualifying, with no fewer than seven drivers taking turns to top the time sheet.
Homola set the first significant laps of 1:26.737 and 1:26.204, but then the leadership moved to Comini (1:26.0369) and then to Jäger (1:26.011), Daniel Lloyd (1:25.984) and Colciago (1:25.913).

With only 30 seconds left on the clock, Kajaia posted an impressive 1:25.864 that he achieved by improving his sector 2 time while that was under yellow flag due to Stian Paulsen’s car stranded in the gravel trap at Turn 5. This meant that the Stewards disallowed Kajaia’s time, which dropped him to 14th and out of Q2.

The battle then raged for the other positions, with Rob Huff, Frédéric Vervisch and Gianni Morbidelli who were all able to make the cut at the last gasp and kick out the championship leader Jean-Karl Vernay, who dropped to 13th.

The following drivers went through to Q2: Colciago, Lloyd, Tassi, Jäger, Comini, Borković, Huff, Homola, Oriola, Vervisch, Nash and Morbidelli.

Q2: Homola steals pole from Borković

2017-2017 Salzburgring Friday---70 Mato Homola_13

Borković began at a stunning pace, posting a provisional fastest time of 1:25.689 and nearly matching it on the following lap (1:25.698).

Tassi (1:25.636) and then Homola (1:25.629) dropped the Serbian to third, but Borković jumped on top again with a lap of 1:25.558.
However, Homola had the last word and settled the matter with the pole position time of 1:25.481.

When the chequered flag was waved, Oriola was clocked at 1:25.558 that gave him the third place, dropping Tassi to fourth.

What the fastest drivers said after Qualifying

2017-2017 Salzburgring Saturday---Homola pole position

Mat’o Homola (1st): “I have always had good results here in Salzburgring, so I know this track suits me and I like the fast corners. From the beginning, we had some minor problems in every session but we changed some things for Qualifying and the car behaved really well. We were guessing at some of the set-up things, but you can see that they worked. It’s one thing to win Qualifying, but you get more points in the races so that’s what I have to concentrate on. I don’t know how to measure the risks I took, but I know I wasn’t 100% in Turn 9. One mistake can ruin your whole weekend and I know I need the points.”

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Dušan Borković (2nd): “Yesterday, we were trying to change some things on the car to improve the corner speed because we knew we were struggling. In Q1 I had some traffic and I made a few mistakes but I was pushing. We are still struggling a little bit in the second sector because of the bad aero but we will see tomorrow what will happen with all of us. In Q2, I knew the tyres were fresher in the first few laps but I made some stupid mistakes. By the third lap the tyres were gone. I really like the Salzburgring – I crashed last year when I was P2, so hopefully this year I will finish both races, but you can be sure I will push.”

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Pepe Oriola (3rd): “Everybody always wants to get a tow here in Salzburgring and we had a really good strategy within the team which worked in Free Practice and Q1. I was swapping positions with James (Nash) and Daniel (Lloyd) and the others were trying to get a tow from us. At one time, Rob (Huff) was in the middle with us and then Colciago too so I was really lucky to get the time on the last lap, but I know I could have been even faster. The Alfa cars are really strong in the first part of the straight, but as Dušan said, we know they have aero problems. We are back on the pace – it’s been a long time since I did a Qualifying press conference, so it’s good to be back!”

Attila Tassi got a brand new car

2017-2017 Salzburgring Friday---09 Attila Tassi_4

Miracles sometimes happen! Thanks to some behind-the-scenes logistics overnight, Attila Tassi will be able to take part in the TCR International Series event at the Salzburgring after escaping unscathed from a major shunt.

The young Hungarian driver was discharged from the medical centre after a thorough check and declared able to race, if only he had a car…

His Honda Civic had suffered extensive damage in the high-speed impact against the Armco barrier at Turn 9. It was impossible to fix the car at the track, so the Civic was stripped and its shell will be sent to JAS for a possible repair.

While the M1RA mechanics were working on the wreck, phone calls were exchanged between the team and JAS, and soon a new car was loaded onto a flat-bed truck that left Milan on an overnight journey to Austria.

The truck arrived at the circuit at 4:00am where the team crew leapt into action to apply the livery and the car finally passed scrutineering. Tassi will be dropped to the back of the grid for Race 1 because of the engine change.

Team principal Norbert Michelisz said: “It has been a fantastic effort from everybody at JAS and in the team. We all wanted to do our best and give Attila the possibility to race, because our aim is to win the championship.”

Ferenz Ficza crashed during Practice 1

2017-2017 Salzburgring Saturday---55 Ferenc Ficza_50

Another Hungarian driver, another big shunt.

After Attila Tassi’s crash at Turn 9 in yesterday’s test session, Ferenc Fizca hit the barrier hard a few metres further down the track during this morning Free Practice 1.
Ficza was quickly out of the car; he walked away, shocked but apparently unhurt.

He was first transported to the circuit’s medical centre for precautionary checks and then sent to the local hospital for X-Rays as he was complaining of pain in his ribs.
He was eventually discharged and declared fit to race next week at the Hungaroring.

Borković and Colciago share the honours in Austria as Comini takes the Championship Lead

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

This year’s Austrian weekend of the TCR International Series will be mostly remembered for the crashes at Turn 9 that wrecked four cars and, in the case of Jean-Karl Vernay’s incident, shook up the standings.

In fact, the French driver lost the series’ lead and dropped to third behind both the new leader Stefano Comini and Roberto Colciago.
Even worse, the Leopard Racing team has the arduous task of rebuilding two cars (Vernay’s and Rob Huff’s) in the few days before Friday’s free practice at the Hungaroring.

The good news is that these high-speed crashes proved how safe the TCR cars are, as all four drivers escaped unhurt apart for a bruise to Huff’s left elbow.

2017-2017 Salzburgring Saturday---03 Rob Huff_122

Dušan Borković claimed an authoritative win in Race 1, as did Roberto Colciago in Race 2. Mat’o Homola celebrated his and Opel’s first podium in the International Series (second in Race 1).

The other podium finishers were also happy: Attila Tassi (second in Race 2) could not have hoped for such a result after his destructive incident on Friday, but he was rescued by the combined efforts of M1RA and JAS that ‘materialized’ a second car for him; Comini put in his usual show, a mix of attack and defence that was worth two third places and the leadership in the points.

Another driver who had reasons to rejoice was Jens Reno Møller, who scored in both races, fighting on equal terms against far more experienced competitors

Results remain provisional pending an appeal.

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017
The Lukoil Craft-Bamboo team lodged a protest against four cars (the Alfa Romeos of Kajaia and Borković and the Opels of Homola and Jäger), requesting technical checks of their turbochargers.

Following the report of the Technical Delegate, the Stewards of the Meeting rejected the protest, but Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Team has decided to appeal.

Race 1: Borković wins as Leopard duo crash out

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Dušan Borković took a light-to-flag victory – the second for him and the third for GE-Force and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR – in a race that turned to drama for Leopard Racing, as both Rob Huff and Jean-Karl Vernay crashed at high speed at the infamous Turn 9. Luckily both drivers escaped shocked, but unhurt.

The result was decided by the two perfect sprints that Borković performed at the start and the re-start after the first safety-car period. In both cases the Serbian was able to keep at bay the pole-sitter Mat’o Homola and his Opel Astra.

As Homola was forced to concentrate on defending his second position, first from Pepe Oriola and in the final stages from Stefano Comini, Borković created a small gap for the lead.

Behind him, Homola eventually managed to retain second place, while Comini moved up to third in his Audi RS3 LMS overtaking the SEAT cars of Oriola and James Nash. Just before the second safety car intervention, local driver Thomas Jäger managed to overtake Oriola and Nash as well to grab a brilliant fourth.

Jens Reno Møller completed a spotless race, finishing as the best of the Honda drivers in an impressive eighth position.

With Vernay off (and sidelined for the rest of the event) and Roberto Colciago scoreless following a collision with Daniel Lloyd, Comini took advantage of the situation, moving to second in the standings, only three points behind Vernay.

RACE ONE

Grid: Tassi and Huff are both demoted (from 4th and 7th) to the back of the grid due to engine changes; Colciago was also dropped (from 10th to 13th) because of a penalty received in Monza

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Start: Borković has better reflexes than Homola and takes the lead ahead of the pole sitter, Oriola, Nash and Jäger

Lap 1: Møller and Colciago overtake Lloyd and Morbidelli for 8th and 9th

Lap 2: Oriola and Nash are chasing Homola

Lap 3: Comini overtakes Jäger for 5th

Lap 4: Huff (17th) and Vernay (15th) try to recover

Lap 5: Homola defends his second place from Oriola, Nash and Comini

Lap 6: Vernay overtakes Morbidelli for 13th; Kajaia overtakes Jäger for 6th

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Lap 7: Paulsen retires after a clash with Morbidelli

Lap 8: Comini overtakes Nash for 4th; Colciago and Lloyd make contact

Lap 9: Comini pips Oriola for third; Vesnić and Ende make contact at the first chicane, the former remain stranded in the gravel, the latter loses a front wheel; Huff crashes at high speed at Turn 9, the safety car is deployed

Lap 12: The race resumes; the leading quartet of Borković, Homola, Comini and Oriola is covered by only one second; Jäger overtakes Nash for 4th

Lap 13: Jäger overtakes Oriola for third

Lap 14: Vernay crashes just a few hundred metres before the spot of Huff’s incident; the safety car is deployed again

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Lap 15: The race is red-flagged, Borković wins from Homola, Comini and Jäger

Race 2: Colciago and Tassi make 1-2 for M1RA

2017-2017 Salzburgring Race 1---05 Roberto Colciago_166

Roberto Colciago and Attila Tassi finished first and second, ending in glory a weekend that had started in the worst way for M1RA and Honda after Tassi’s crash in Friday’s free practice.

While Colciago dashed from pole position and escaped on the way to his third victory of the season, Tassi made a great start as well, jumping to fourth; then he was able to overtake James Nash and Gianni Morbidelli to grab the second position that he defended until the end despite pressure from Stefano Comini.

The winner of Race 1 Dušan Borković ended up in the gravel – maybe due to a broken driveshaft – and so did Pepe Oriola, while a few other drivers (Kajaia, Demoustier, Bettera) had flat tyres because of debris on the track.

Thomas Jäger encored his fourth place and Jens Reno Møller scored again; Gianni Morbidelli was classified fifth, the best result for him and WestCoast Racing so far.

RACE TWO

Grid: Both the Leopard Racing Volkswagen cars of Vernay and Huff are missing after their shunts in Race 1; Paulsen starts from the pit lane, Vesnić doesn’t start as a rear wheel was locked after his Race 1 incident

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Start: Colciago sprints from the pole, Morbidelli struggles to keep second place

Lap 1: Tassi overtakes Nash for third

Lap 2: Tassi and Morbidelli make contact and swap positions a couple of times; Paulsen pits and rejoins

Lap 3: Tassi overtakes Morbidelli for second

Lap 4: Morbidelli drops to fifth behind Comini and Oriola

Lap 5: Kajaia and Jäger make contact while fighting for 8th position; the both overtake Homola for 7th and 8th

Lap 6: Borković goes off into the gravel trap a Turn 9; Paulsen pits again

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Lap 9: Tassi’s second place is under attacks from Comini and Oriola; Morbidelli, Nash and Jäger fight for 5th position; Bettera and Ende pit with flat tyres, only the Italian rejoins

Lap 10: Jäger overtakes Nash for 6th

Lap 11: Jäger overtakes Morbidelli for 5th; Oriola spins off into the grave trap at T9, the safety car is deployed; Demoustier pits with a flat tyre

Lap 12: Vervisch pits with oil pressure problems

Lap 15: The race resumes as Kajaia pits and rejoins. Meanwhile Homola takes the escape road at the first chicane and drops to 10th

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Lap 17: Colciago wins from Tassi whilst Comini retains second place despite the pressure from Jäger

Quotes from the podium finishers

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Dušan Borković (1st Race 1): “When you win a race, the question is always asked ‘you made it look easy’ but it really wasn’t easy. I knew I had to get a good start, as it would have been very tough to overtake Mat’o if he got a better start than me. I was scared that he would overtake me in the second sector with the slipstream but he didn’t manage to do it. Same with the safety car, but I managed again to have the inside line. The second race was disappointing because I had a problem with a driveshaft after Jäger twice pushed me wide at the chicane. Comini did a great job, but he will have the most Success Ballast next week.”

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Roberto Colciago (1st Race 2): “I had a good first race, but I was pushed out by someone else. In Race 2, I had a good start and then Attila was fighting with Comini – I was looking in the mirror and saying ‘thanks’! That was really the key to my win. In this championship, in every race you can say it’s me and Comini or me and someone else or Comini and someone else; there are so many fast drivers and the ballast changes. Today I was lucky with the ballast, unlike in Spa. Every race is a story. To talk about the championship, we have to wait until the end.”

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Mat’o Homola (2nd Race 1): “I scored more points this weekend than in all the previous races together! For sure, I wanted to win the first race but Dušan had a really good start. I almost overtook him twice, but the second time I didn’t want to take any major risk because the points are so important for me. It wasn’t easy to keep Stefano behind me, but he had a puncture and that helped me. After the safety car, I got a slipstream from Dušan towards the end of the race, so I was lucky for that. I’m sorry for all the drivers who crashed at Turn 9 over the weekend – I’m really pleased that they’re all okay.”

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Attila Tassi (2nd Race 2): “After the crash on Friday, we weren’t even sure that we could take part in Qualifying or the races, so I want to say a huge thanks to my family, to the team and to JAS for the fast delivery of the brand new car. It’s a great result for me and for the team and I’m very happy. For the first few laps as I went through Turn 9, it wasn’t scary but I was building up the speed again. If I was scared, I wouldn’t have got back in the car. Hungary is the home race for me and the team and I’ve been waiting all season for it, so my aim is to have my first win in TCR there.”

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Stefano Comini (3rd in both races): “This was not a bad weekend for me at all. It’s like a game of roulette here in Salzburgring, because every session it’s different. You need to have big respect for Turn 9 because a lot of drivers crashed there. It’s amazing what TCR has done with the cars because they were scary crashes but here is ‘Attilino’ finishing second after a big crash. It’s good to know that we are working with safe cars. I don’t actually remember much about the races, only that some overtaking moves were good and that I had a puncture! If you want to overtake here, you have to take risks so you can defend quite easily. After only two and a half months, we are leading the championship with a new team, a new car and a last-minute project.”

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

The series resumed at Budapest’s Hungaroring for rounds 11 and 12 seven days later…

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!!!

Pierre Runic Announces 2018 TCR International Project

Pierre Runic has confirmed today that he intends to race full time in the 2018 TCR International Series.

The Swedish driver, working in conjunction with Swedish outfit RaceMedia.net, is currently in final negotiations with a prominent and well known team who has competed in both the TCR International Series and made regular appearances in domestic TCR series as well.

The identity of the team he will be competing for and also which car he will be driving will be released in the very near future.

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

The programme that’s in place for Runic includes seat time during some 2017 TCR based events, also to be confirmed at a later date.

Pierre Runic has mainly competed in international karting series where he has accomplished more than 140 international race starts. During the last three years, Pierre has scored many race wins as well as winning the Rotax Max Sportstil Cup in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia twice and been a member of the exclusive Intrepid Drives Program.

He has also successfully qualified in two Rotax Max Grand Finals, what is seen as the recognised official World Championship in karting.

2017-2017 Monza Race 2---Start Race2_12 (1)

Despite the tight time frame to work on completing the plans for their entry in the 2018 TCR International Series, both RaceMedia.net and Pierre Runic are working together on a professional racing fitness program alongside with simulator sessions and a diversity of other relevant activities that will prepare the Swedish driver for his move to Top flight Touring Car competition.

With preparation underway to have Runic ready for the first round of the series, this will also show the growing potential of this young driver in what is now regarded as one of the most competitive International Touring Car series at this time to be involved in.

You can find both RaceMedia. net and Pierre Runic on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RaceMediaNet and https://twitter.com/pierrerunic

2017 TCR International Series: Monza

TCR returns to Italy’s ‘Temple of Speed’

The fourth race meeting of the 2017 TCR International Series takes place on Monza’s super-fast Autodromo, which is known worldwide as the ‘Temple of Speed’ another legendary motorsport venue visited by the series, after Spa-Francorchamps where rounds 5 and 6 were run last week.

The International Series has already competed at Monza, in 2015, providing two very lively races in which groups of cars were running abreast into every corner.

2017-2017 Monza Friday---10 Gianni Morbidelli_55

Local hero Gianni Morbidelli scored a double victory at the wheel of a WestCoast Racing Honda Civic, but he had to fight hard to recover and beat his competitors.

In Race 1, Morbidelli had a poor start from pole and eventually emerged as the winner after a four-way fight with the SEAT cars of Pepe Oriola, Andrea Belicchi and Stefano Comini.

The second race was even more thrilling, as Fernando Monje took the lead in his Opel Astra. The Spaniard was chased by a group of six cars that included Morbidelli, Belicchi, Oriola, Comini, Jordi Gené and Kevin Gleason. Positions were swapped several times and contacts were made. Finally Morbidelli beat Gené and Monje to the line by mere inches, with the latter giving Opel its best result so far in the series.

Will Monza produce a seventh different race winner?

2017-2017 Monza Friday---23 Pierre-Yves Corthals_47

After the first three events of the season, Leopard Racing’s Jean-Karl Vernay has been able to build a cushion of points between himself and his rivals. The Frenchman has scored in all of the six races held so far, finishing on the podium three times, including his first victory of the year in the second race at Spa.

Vernay’s margin amounts to 25 points ahead of Stefano Comini, while Attila Tassi,Dušan Borković and Roberto Colciago rank from third to fifth with gaps of 38, 40 and 41 points respectively.

However, considering how level is the performance between the top cars and drivers, it’s a safe prediction that the title fight will be very hard-fought.

A look at the statistics explains everything. The six races held so far have produced six different winners at the wheel of five different models of cars: Alfa Romeo, SEAT, Honda, Audi and Volkswagen (in chronological order).

Only the Opel Astra has not won a race yet, but has already shown its potential with the 1-2 in Bahrain Qualifying and the victory claimed by Mat’o Homola in TCR Benelux a couple of weeks ago. In fact, Homola and his DG Sport Compétition teammate Pierre-Yves Corthals have frequently been handicapped by bad luck .

Along the straights of Monza, outright speed will be a factor, which could be an advantage for the Honda and the SEAT cars, while Comini and Vernay will have to cope with the extra weight of the Success Ballast.

With such a close field, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Monza produces a seventh different race winner, or even an eighth…

Colciago, Morbidelli and Alfa Romeo: the Italian Factor

2017-2017 Monza Qualifying---16 Davit Kajaia_108

The Autodromo is one of the favourite places for Italian motorsport fans, especially when they can cheer representatives of the national colours, either drivers or cars.

Roberto Colciago in the M1RA Honda Civic Type-R will be one of the men to watch. Monza is his – and JAS Motorsport’s – home racetrack and the reigning TCR Italy champion is eager to make up for a disappointing Belgian weekend, when the Success Ballast greatly affected the performance of his Civic on the steep slopes of Spa.

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Gianni Morbidelli too has a special feeling with the Autodromo, where he won both races on the occasion of the TCR’s first visit in 2015. And on top of this, the former F1 racer is eager to make up for a disappointing start of the season that saw him struggling to set up the WestCoast Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI.

However, quite possibly the Tifosi’s strongest support will go to the Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta cars driven by Davit Kajaia and Dusan Borković. Both the Georgian and the Serbian have already savoured the sweet taste of victory in the previous rounds, but success in Monza would have a very different meaning.

In fact, the last time an Alfa Romeo won a Touring Car race at the Autodromo dates back to 2006…too long a wait!

Success Ballast for Comini and Vernay

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

In the Monza event, Success Ballast will only be carried by Stefano Comini and Jean-Karl Vernay, the race winners of the previous event at Spa-Francorchamps.

Comini was the best scorer in Belgium, with pole position, victory in Race 1 and third in Race 2 that brought him 45 points, but also 30 kilos of Success Ballast. Vernay, the current points leader, scored 39 points in Spa and so will be given 20 extra kilos.

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

The 10-kilo Success Ballast for the third best scorer will not be allocated, as Benjamin Lessennes (who pocketed 31 points in his home race meeting) will not race at Monza.

As a result, Comini’s Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS will weigh 1360kg (1285kg minimum weight + 30kg Success Ballast + 45kg B alance of Performance adjustment), while the running weight of Vernay’s Leopard Racing WRT Volkswagen Golf GTI will be 1315kg (1285kg + 20kg SB + 10kg BoP).

Jaap van Lagen replaces Rob Huff at Monza

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Jaap van Lagen will replace Rob Huff at the wheel of the Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI for this weekend’s race meeting at Monza.

Huff, who joined the team last week at Spa, is forced to skip Monza because of a previous commitment and will be back from the following event at the Salzburgring.

With Jean-Karl Vernay currently leading the TCR International Series standings, the team did not want to miss the opportunity of fielding its second car and picked van Lagen who is both experienced and fast enough to provide good support to the Frenchman.

“I’m very much looking forward to my first TCR event ever at Monza! Especially because I’m joining a top team and I will be driving a competitive car. For me it’s a good opportunity to come back to Touring Car racing after a few years with LADA Sport. I hope I will be able do a good job and score important points for the team!” van Lagen said.

Cappellari joins the TCR International Series in Monza

2017-2017 Monza Qualifying---76 Daniele Cappellari_1

Daniele Cappellari, a regular competitor in TCR Italy, will join the International Series for the Italian event at Monza.

At a time when big articulated trucks line up behind the garages at each racetrack and hospitality suites fill the paddocks, Cappellari and his partner and team manager Fabiola bring their SEAT León on a trailer and sleep in a camper van like in the ‘good old days’, proving that the category is really affordable for independent teams and drivers.

And competing with a family-run team in this way does not affect results, as was proved by finishing in fifth position in last year’s TCR Italy.

Now, Daniele is looking forward to his first international appearance at Monza: “I feel very excited and I’m sure I will remember the Monza weekend for the rest of my life. I love Touring Car racing and when I was a boy I never missed a Super Touring race on TV, but I couldn’t even dream of taking part in an International event at Monza! Whatever will be, I will be happy. But I also hope to show off and find some support for the future. It will be a dream come true and I dare to hope that it will not be a one-off…”

Gabriele Tarquini, a spectator with an interest…

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Touring Car legend Gabriele Tarquini was a very attentive spectator in the Monza paddock over these two days, and had many hands to shake…

It’s nice to see so many friends, but I am not here only to socialize, I have come to see the future rivals…” admitted the Italian with a big smile.

“Il ‘Cinghio’ came to Monza from Misano, where he completed another test with Hyundai’s future TCR racer, the New Generation i30.

“The development and testing phase are going on smoothly and positively,” explained the former World Champion and official test driver of the Korean brand.

“I can say it is a well-born car. Things are definitely being done in the proper way. It is still premature to say anything about a race debut, but the time will come for sure!”

Qualifying – Frédéric Vervisch took his maiden pole

2017-2017 Monza Friday---06 Frederic Vervisch_48

In a very close Qualifying, Frédéric Vervisch took his maiden pole position in the TCR International Series. The Belgian was impressive throughout the whole session, in his only second Touring Car appearance.

It was also the second consecutive pole for Audi and Comtoyou Racing, after the one claimed by Stefano Comini at Spa. Six brands were represented in the top 7, all covered by seven tenths, proving the competitiveness of the field.

The M1RA Honda Civic cars of Roberto Colciago and Attila Tassi dominated most of the two parts of the session, but were eventually beaten by the Audi.

Davit Kajaia was an excellent fourth-fastest with the GE Force Alfa Romeo Giulietta, preceding the DG Sport Compétition Opel Astra of Mat’o Homola, the best of the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT León cars of Pepe Oriola and the best of the Volkswagen Golf GTI cars, the Leopard Racing Team WRT machine of Jean-Karl Vernay.

Stefano Comini was only 8th, after a difficult session, ahead of James Nash and Hugo Valente. The two Lukoil Craft-Bamboo drivers will fill the front row of the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2.

Qualifying 1: Colciago was fastest at home

2017-2017 Monza Friday---05 Roberto Colciago_63

The session started under the sun and with perfect conditions. It was immediately a slipstreaming exercise, with the three Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT cars of Oriola (2:01.078), Valente and Nash, leading in that order.

Shortly afterwards, it was the DG Sport Compétition Opel Astra cars taking the advantage with Corthals (2:00.946), but Oriola retook the lead (2:00.153) before being beaten by the Honda Civic cars of Tassi (2:00.063) and Colciago (2:00.090).

With six minutes to go, Vervisch put his Audi on top (2:00.021). Shortly afterwards, the Hungarian young boys made a hit, with Tassi back on top (1:59.610) ahead of Ferenc Ficza (1:59.895) in the Zele Motorsport SEAT León.

In the dying moments of the session, though, Colciago pipped everybody with a lap of 1:59.601. The Italian beat Tassi, Ficza, Vervisch, Oriola, Vernay, Homola, Kajaia, Valente and Nash. The last two promoted to Q2 were Comini and Jaap van Lagen.

Those who did not make the cut were the two WestCoast VW Golf cars of Morbidelli and Altoè, the GE Force Alfa Romeo of Borković, Corthals, Paulsen, Cappellari and Møller.

Qualifying 2: Vervisch beat the Honda boys

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

As Valente went straight at the Roggia on the first fast lap, Colciago confirmed immediately his leadership (1:59.859), ahead of Homola, Comini and van Lagen. In the second fastest lap, Colciago improved (1:59.246) and Tassi moved up to second (1:59.361), with Kajaia third.

It was then Tassi who took the provisional pole on his last lap (1:59.131) before being beaten by Colciago (1:59.097). Eventually it was Vervisch (1:58.997) who went faster than the two Honda cars. Kajaia (1:59:469) was an excellent fourth, flowed by Homola, Oriola, Vernay, Comini, Nash and Valente who took pole for Race 2.

What the fastest drivers said after Qualifying

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Frédéric Vervisch (1st): “Before the weekend, everybody knew that the Audi had good top speed but you still have to do it, the speed has to be there and Monza is not an easy track. I’m really, really pleased that Audi and the team gave us such a good car and I hope we can have a bit more pace than we had at Spa in the race. We discussed slipstreaming and we tried it yesterday, but it didn’t really work and so we decided not to do it.”

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Roberto Colciago (2nd): “Until this morning, I didn’t know if I could even go in the car; I’m surprised I could drive, let alone be P2! I think I have a problem with the discs in my back, which I damaged yesterday going across the kerbs. It started at Spa but I had a massage during the week, which helped. After FP2 yesterday I was really bad and I didn’t sleep much, so I don’t know what will happen in the race.”

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Attila Tassi (3rd): “It feels good. We worked a lot during Free Practice yesterday to set up a good car for Qualifying and for the races. Of course, I have a really experienced teammate who is at his home track so that is a big plus for me because he has taught me lots of small things about Monza. In the race, I will try to do the same kind of start I did at Spa and then defend hard.”

Colciago and Tassi make it a 1-2 finish for Honda as Vernay maintains his lead in the standings

2017-2017 Monza Race 1---Podium Race1_4

Roberto Colciago was the first driver to take a second win in this year’s TCR International Series. The Italian, who lives a few kilometres from the Autodromo, completed a brilliant performance in a very lively Race 1 at Monza to beat his young teammate Attila Tassi and giving M1RA and the Honda Civic an impressive 1-2 finish.

Pepe Oriola, with the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT León, finished third ahead of Jean-Karl Vernay (Leopard Racing Team WRT Volkswagen Golf GTI) who had a relatively quiet race and scored useful points that helped him to maintain the championship lead with a 24-point margin ahead of Colciago. Ferenc Ficza (Zele Motorsport SEAT León) was classified fifth, beating pole sitter Frédéric Vervisch (Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS) by inches.

Once again, Monza provided the ingredients for a spectacular race, with plenty of duels and contacts that jeopardized the hopes of potential contenders such as Valente, Homola, Comini and Borković. They were all able to salvage some points at least, something that Nash, Morbidelli, van Lagen and Kajaia could not.

RACE ONE

Start: Vervisch starts well from pole, but Colciago and Tassi pass him before the first chicane

2017-2017 Monza Race 1---05 Roberto Colciago_162

Lap 1: Homola and Oriola make contact at the first chicane, also involving Comini and Morbidelli. Homola spins and rejoins whilst Altoè goes out in the gravel at the Curvone following a contact with Valente. Colciago leads from Tassi, Vervisch and Kajaia

Lap 2: Kajaia touches Vervisch at the first chicane as Vernay goes straight on

Lap 3: Colciago is being chased by Tassi, Oriola, Vernay, Nash, van Lagen, Ficza and Valente whilst Vervisch has dropped to 10th ahead of Homola. There is contact between Valente and Ficza at the Parabolica

Lap 4: Ficza and Nash go straight on at the chicane as Vervisch makes contact with Valente and cuts the Roggia chicane, gaining two positions

2017-2017 Monza Race 1---06 Frederic Vervisch_146 (1)

Lap 5: There is a battle for 6th between Vervisch, Valente, Nash, Borković, Homola, and Morbidelli, with plenty of contact involved.

Lap 6: At the first chicane, Borković hits Morbidelli then Comini overtakes them both for 9th as Homola passes Vervisch and Nash for 6th.

Lap 8: Vervisch, Valente, Borković and Morbidelli keep fighting as Colciago has a four-tenths lead over Tassi who is trailed by Oriola, Vernay and Ficza  

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Lap 9: Tassi and Oriola get closer to Colciago, but the Hungarian goes wide at Lesmo 2 handing the second place to Oriola as Corthals and Kajaia retire in the pits

Lap 10: Tassi attacks Oriola and re-takes the second place at the Roggia however there is contact and a fender of Oriola’s SEAT rubs against a rear tyre as Vernay closes the gap from the Spaniard

Lap 11: Colciago wins ahead of Tassi, Oriola, Vernay, Ficza, Vervisch, Valente, Homola, Comini and Borković

Fizca drops to tenth after penalty

2017-2017 Monza Qualifying---55 Ferenc Ficza_78

The many investigations that followed the first race ended up in only one driver being penalised: Feren Ficza.

The young Hungarian was given a 10-second time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage. In fact Ficza’s Zele Racing SEAT León cut through the first chicane during the fourth lap of today’s Race 1 and moved up a couple of places in the process.

Ficza eventually finished in fifth position, but the penalty dropped him down to tenth.

Quotes from the Race 1 podium finishers

2017-2017 Monza Race 1---05 Roberto Colciago_130

Roberto Colciago (1st): “This morning, I didn’t know if I could race because my back was aching so badly, but luckily I had no pain once I was in the car. I couldn’t get away from the others because the tow is so important here in Monza and so I just concentrated on not making any mistakes. Attila pressured me from the start, so it’s good for the team that he has the same pace as me. When I was in Spa, it looked like I was racing with the ambulance because of the Success Ballast, so I’m really happy to win at my home track.”

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Attila Tassi (2nd): “It’s a great result for the team and for me as well. The start was just how I imagined it and I ended up behind Roberto. I was then a bit less aggressive and so the others could catch up with us. I made a mistake two laps from the end and Pepe overtook me, but then at the end he damaged his rear bodywork in the chicane so I overtook him on the straight and then defended the position. Roberto has been racing here in Monza for thirty years – nearly twice as long as I am old – and so he knows every little thing about the place which is really useful for me.”

2017-2017 Monza Race 1---74 Pepe Oriola_198

Pepe Oriola (3rd): “I had a really good start and I came into the first chicane side by side with two or three cars; I got a push and hit Homola, he spun and I’m really sorry, it wasn’t my intention. When I was up to third, I was trying to catch the Honda cars but it was really tough to follow them. Then I waited for a mistake and it arrived, but then Attila and I then had a little touch. I think SEAT has to work on the rear fenders of the car; it was only a little contact but this doesn’t have to happen. It was impossible to stop Attila, in the last 250 metres of the straights the top speed of the Hondas is amazing.”

Comini wins after a close but fair fight with Colciago as Only eighteen points cover the top three in the standings

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Stefano Comini won his second race of the year in a breathtaking Race 2 at Monza. The reigning double champion of TCR International clinched the win in his Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS at the end of a thrilling battle. Comini made a great start, managing to take the lead on the first lap, but could never build a substantial gap. In the final part of the race he had to defend himself from the attacks of Roberto Colciago.

The winner of Race 1, at the wheel of the M1RA Honda Civic, made a stunning charge through the field, climbing from ninth on the grid up to P2. He even managed to pass Comini on the penultimate lap, but the Swiss responded immediately afterwards and then was able to defend P1 until the chequered flag. With the first 11 cars finishing within 4 seconds, it was a typical, exciting and close Touring Car race at Monza, with plenty of action and duels. Frédéric Vervisch took third with the second Audi RS3 LMS, completing the excellent day for Comtoyou Racing, preceding the Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT León of James Nash and the Leopard Racing Team WRT Volkswagen Golf GTI of Jean-Karl Vernay.

The Frenchman still leads the standings with 113 points, but Colciago and Comini are now only 16 and 18 points behind respectively. The title fight is just starting to heat up!

RACE TWO

Grid: The engine on Van Lagen’s car was changed after Race 1, which demoted the Dutchman to the back of the grid

2017-2017 Monza Race 2---Start Race2_12

Start: Comini makes an excellent start from row 2, overtaking Valente, who comes off the worst in a first chicane incident with Vernay and Oriola as Tassi is also pushed into a spin and collects Borkovic, who retires

Lap 1: Comini leads from Nash, Vernay, Oriola, Homola, Colciago and Vervisch

2017-2017 Monza Race 2---01 Stefano Comini_316

Lap 2: Homola and Oriola fight for fourth

Lap 3: Vervisch and Colciago move up to fifth and sixth overtaking Homola; Colciago overtakes Vervisch for fifth

Lap 4: Colciago passes Oriola for fourth

Lap 5: Vervisch passes Oriola for fifth

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Lap 6: Colciago passes Vernay for third at Lesmo 1 as Comini manages to build a small margin

Lap 7: Vervisch and Vernay are fighting for fourth; the Belgian passes at La Roggia, while Homola passes Oriola for sixth at the same spot; Colciago takes second from Nash; Kajaia takes seventh from Oriola

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Lap 8: Tassi passes van Lagen for 11th as there is a contact at the braking point of the first chicane, Morbidelli spins and Altoè cuts straight. Paulsen pits with a steering wheel issue

Lap 9: Colciago completely cuts Comini’s advantage and sticks to the Audi’s rear bumper

Lap 10: The first seven cars are covered by 1.5 seconds; Colciago takes the lead by passing Comini from the outside at the first chicane, with Vervisch doing the same with Nash for third; at the braking for La Roggia, Comini retakes the lead

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Lap 11: Vernay cuts the first chicane but retakes his previous position; Colciago makes a last attempt at the braking point before the Parabolica, but Comini keeps the inside line and wins by 0.170 second. Third is Vervisch, ahead of Nash, Vernay, Homola, Kajaia, Oriola, Tassi and Ficza, with Van Lagen 11th…all those within 4 seconds!

Colciago gets grid penalty for the next race

2017-2017 Monza Race 2---05 Roberto Colciago_235

Roberto Colciago will be dropped five places on the starting grid for the first race at the Salzburgring.

The Stewards deemed that the Italian driver caused an incident on lap four of today’s Race 2 at Monza. In the collision Frédéric Vervisch was pushed into the back of Mat’o Homola’s car and then straight-cut the Ascari chicane. 

No further action were taken after the other investigation on the first lap incident at the first chicane that involved Jean-Karl Vernay, Pepe Oriola and Vervisch.

Quotes from Race 2 podium finishers

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

Stefano Comini (1st): “Yesterday was really a bad day for me; Valente hit me and accelerated to make me spin, but today was great. It was a funny first lap but I knew with the Success Ballast I had to get into the lead as soon as possible. It was difficult to keep the position, but it was fun. The solution to the brake problem was to get into the lead, so more cool air goes into the brakes. Yesterday was really dangerous, and in the last three laps today I had to use all my strength to brake because the car wasn’t slowing down.”

2017-2017 Monza Race 2---05 Roberto Colciago_244

Roberto Colciago (2nd): “I was impressed with Stefano today because he was really fast; I was in the slipstream but I couldn’t stay with him. My Honda was perfect in every single corner and this was the maximum I could do today. I don’t even want to think about Spa, which is the worst circuit to have ballast, and it’s why I was so impressed by Stefano today. He doesn’t live very far from me, so both of us wanted to win in Monza this weekend – it’s very special to win here. I tried my best to overtake him but it was impossible.”

2017-2017 Monza Race 2---06 Frederic Vervisch_185

Frédéric Vervisch (3rd): “Congratulations to Stefano, who did an amazing job, and I think the job from the whole team was really great. We’ve had the pace from the beginning and it was disappointing in Spa that I didn’t have the pace in the race. Yesterday was a bit ‘stock car’ but I’m very happy today and the next step is to go for victory. Apart from the result, all the races have been great fun; the category is like karting! I still have to get used to it but the Audi is a great car and so I hope the next time I will be where my mate is.”

The series will resume in Austria, at the Salzburgring, on June 10 / 11 for rounds 9 and 10.

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017

After watching the fun and frolics from Monza, the main subject that was the talk of the event was driving standards during the weekend.

There were two important points on this subject.

Many fans were upset over the contact that saw Mato Homola lose several places as others cut the first chicane and that he did not gain those places back. A protest was lodged by both Homola and DG Sport Competition after the second race.

2017-2017 Monza Race 2---21 Giacomo Altoe_113.jpg

The other talking point related to the poor driving standards was the release sent out by WestCoat Racing, whose drivers Gianni Morbidelli and Giacomo Altoe both saw their races ruined by contact.

Team Manager James Nixon was quite clear on his thoughts from the weekend’s activities…

“It appears the International series has some of the worst driving standards currently in any series I watch.”

“Sadly, most of these incidents seem to go un-noticed by the people that count! We were passed yet again more times off the track than on, but no positions given back. Maybe it’s better to have no rules but it’s not the kind of motorsport we want for the team. As a team we need to look at our options and decide if we continue to support this philosophy of racing.”

Whilst WestCoast Racing have had a difficult year so far as they adapt to the VW Golf TCR, it fair to say that the loss of this team from The TCR International Series would be a big blow. I expect that there will be some stern words said at the Salzburgring next month about driving standards…

2017-2017 Monza Race 2---01 Stefano Comini_316

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!!!