TCR UK 2018: The National and International Possibilities……

As I wrote this post on a cold and wet Saturday morning in Milton Keynes, I can happily say that the buildup to the TCR UK Series Media Day is less than 30 days away. March 6th at Silverstone will see the announcement of the full entry list of drivers and teams for the first ever TCR series in the UK.

However, I’m going to admit that I have been contacted by quite a few people who have had concerns about whether the series is going ahead this year. Let me answer that question straight away for you:

THE TCR UK SERIES IS HAPPENING!!! THIS IS A FACT!!!

There is no question of this. Anywhere you read that it’s not happening or is dead, please disregard! If you want it from the organisers themselves, they will happily confirm the series is happening.

Now with this in mind, I thought I would put together a post with a list of teams who have announced on Social Media/Press outlets that they have TCR cars with the intention of competing in the TCR UK Series next year.

If you are a regular reader of my blog then you will recognise that a lot of this list was published in my TCR UK article at the end of last year.

Now, let me make this next point perfectly clear: This is not a list of entrants confirmed for 2018. When the BRSCC/TCR UK see fit to announce an official entry list, you can be sure that the Guru will happily publish this!

The National Interest / Possibilities:

Sean Walkinshaw Racing: Honda Civic TCR

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The former Boutsen-Ginion Honda now run by SWR. Credit: Sean Walkinshaw Racing

SWR already have a top flight GT effort underway in Asia and announced earlier in 2017 the intention to run a two car squad using Honda Civic TCR ‘s. The team have already take delivery of a Honda Civic run by the Boutsen-Ginion squad in the TCR Benelux series.

With several drivers having driven the car and a lot of testing mileage already undertaken in 2017, the team already has a striking colour scheme on the Honda that will see them stand out next season.

Pyro Motorsport: Honda Civic TCR

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Finlay Crocker in the TCR Italy Series. Credit: Pyro Motorsport

This well-known BTCC Support squad have already been in action in TCR machinery, having run a Honda Civic for Finlay Crocker in the TCR Italy Series as well as running their own programmes in the TOCA Package.

2017 BTCC Champion Ash Sutton has tested the car quite a lot recently and with TCR being seen as stepping stone in the ladder between the likes of Renault Clio’s/Mini’s etc and the BTCC, the squad already has plenty of knowledge of this type of Touring Car to be just as competitive as the other outfits who are also testing.

Carl Swift/Area Motorsport: SEAT Leon TCR

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Carl Swift at Brands Hatch. Credit: Marl Paulson Social Media

Already known for his racing exploits with Honda’s and in the 24H Endurance Series, Mortgage & Financial Advisor Swift has plans to run a SEAT Leon TCR for 2018. The Sheffield driver was on hand at the TCR UK Test/Taster Day to show off the merits of the well-developed Leon Racer.

Swift is currently looking for Sponsors/Partners to help fund his TCR UK effort in 2018 and is likely to be an interesting thorn in the side to the bigger teams that plan to be out in action next year.

Tom Boardman: Audi RS3 LMS TCR

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Tom Boardman is well-known to the fans of Touring car racing. The former Special Tuning Racing driver campaigned a Super 2000 spec SEAT Leon both in the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Back in January, the former SEAT driver posted the image above on his Instagram account of an Audi RS3 LMS TCR. This could lead to a potential entry in the series and it would also see the return of Boardman to high profie racing since his last season of BTCC back in 2011.

Lewis Kent Racing: Hyundai i30 N TCR

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The Hyundai i30 N TCR in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

2017 BRSCC Ford Fiesta runner-up Lewis Kent announced recently that he will be steeping up from the Ford ranks to make the move into TCR UK having purchased one of the Hyundai i30 N TCR cars. Kent will delivery of the car in January.

With this news, Kent becomes the first driver to confirm he will be participating in the series next year.

As well as finishing runner-up in the BRSCC Ford Fiesta Championship for 2017, Kent has also been nominated for the Downforce Racing Henry Surtees Teen Racer of the Year award. With the Hyundai already a race winner in TCR ranks, it will be good to see one of these cars on the grid next year.

Maximum Motorsport: SEAT Leon TCR

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017
Stian Paulsen in the SEAT León TCR in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

Stewart Lines BTCC squad is also looking to be involved in the TCR UK Series in 2018 with plans to run a SEAT Leon TCR well underway. However there seems to be more involved already.

Line’s squad is also heavily involved in the VW Cup which will support the TCR UK Series on several occasions during 2018 and there is also the prize of a test drive in the teams TCR car as well. Drivers for the car have not yet been announced.

MellioSport: Audi RS3 LMS TCR

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The Audi RS3 LMS TCR in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

MellioSport announced over Christmas 2017 that they would be running an Audi RS3 LMS TCR in the TCR UK Series with VW Cup racer Darelle Wilson rumoured to be piloting the Audi in 2018.

MellioSport themselves are a company that offer Driver Coaching services for those who wish to progress in their Motorsport career in very aspect including PR, Nutrition and driving style as well as operating a successful karting track near Grantham in the East Midlands.

Darelle Wilson himself has competed in various series including the likes of Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, Britcar Endurance Championship and what was formerly known as the MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain.

VFR Racing: 2018 Honda Civic TCR

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The Honda Civic FK8 TCR. Credit: TCR Series

VFR Racing are well placed to put the new 2018 Honda Civic TCR through its paces after they have run a Honda Civic TCR Type 2 with british driver Finlay Crocker at the wheel. Crocker has seen action on both the TCR Italy Series and also in the ADAC TCR Germany Series.

With the new Honda already confirmed to compete in the new FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) with the Boutsen-Ginion squad as well as having already had its Endurance debut in the 2018 24 Hours of Dubai, expect to see both Crocker and VFR Racing well in the mix.

Now, those are the Teams/Drivers that I’m aware of who have announced an entry or potential entry for 2018, however there is more to come and plenty more cars out there that I don’t know about…

The International Interest / Possibilities…

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017
The 2017 TCR International Series in Germany. Credit: TCR Series

During my interview with Mark James at the 2018 Autosport International Show, he explained that there has been International interest in the series with a lot of teams seeing TCR UK as a potential series to enter alongside other programmes.

Again, I highlight the fact that none of these have been confirmed in any way, but interest has been lodged with the TCR UK Series. Here are the teams that have been highlighted so far…

Craft-Bamboo Racing

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017
Craft-Bamboo Racing in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

Craft-Bamboo Racing have been a staple part of the TCR International Series since it began in 2015 with a driver lineup of Pepe Oriola, Jordi Gene and Sergey Afanasyev. Another staple part of the team has been their use of SEAT Leon TCR cars where both Oriola and later James Nash were title contenders in both 2015 and 2016 respectively.

However back in September 2017, Touring Car Times published an article on their website where Team CEO Richard Coleman explained that a dual programme that involved both TCR UK and TCR International Series. However this was before the announcement of WTCR.

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017
Craft-Bamboo Racing in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

Coleman explained in the interview that:

“We are considering TCR UK but would only do so for the right drivers or prospects, We would also be interested in running something white label for somebody else from our Silverstone facility if it adds up; we have a lot of TCR knowledge and know the UK circuit well.”

As the team are evaluating their options for 2018, with a possible change of car for any campaign they run during the year, having this TCR powerhouse involved with TCR UK would surely spur on the competition. Craft-Bamboo Racing are also known for normally running three cars in TCR competition so a two car entry would be almost certain.

WestCoast Racing

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017
WestCoast Racing in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

WestCoast Racing are another team that have been involved in the TCR International Series from the beginning, where they ran Honda Civic’s for the first two seasons with Italian tintop legend and former F1 driver Gianni Morbidelli at the helm.

In 2017 they moved from Honda’s to the Volkswagen Golf TCR and after a first half of the season where they were struggling to get into the top ten, the cars came on song and saw Morbidelli take a double win in Germany.

Also in September last year, Touring Car Times published an article on their website where Team Manager James Nixon confirmed that the team had been in touch with TCR UK promoter Jonathan Ashman and that they were looking to have a programme in place:

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017
WestCoast Racing in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

“We’ve had some discussions with TCR UK promoter Jonathan Ashman and I’m impressed with his plans for the new British series, We’re now looking at the viability of joining in 2018. We’re a winning outfit and we have the resources to make that happen in the UK. We’ll now start talks with potential drivers and hope to firm up our plans in the short to medium term.”

In the same thought as having Craft Bamboo Racing in TCR UK, having this TCR powerhouse involved would mean having two of the biggest heavyweights in TCR history going toe to toe with each other on UK soil. Right there is one reason why the series would grab headlines in the UK and International Motorsport press.

WestCoast Racing have run up to three cars in TCR competition before moving to a two car operation in 2017, so a two car entry would be almost certain should the team confirm an entry.

Bas Koeten Racing

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Bas Koeten Racing in the 2017 TCR BeNeLux Series. Credit: Bas Koeten Racing

Bas Koeten Racing are another international who have taken part in TCR competition from the very beginning. I kid you not when I say that these guys have raced almost everywhere in TCR Competition: TCR International Series, TCR BeNeLux, ADAC TCR Germany, The TCR class in the 24Hours Series and the list goes on!

The team have a fleet of both SEAT Leon TCR cars and the Audi RS3 LMS TCR cars as well so it’s not uncommon to think that they could have an entry in a new Domestic TCR Series. This could be either a mix of SEAT’s and Audi’s or a specific two car entry for the same make.

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Bas Koeten Racing in the 2017 TCR BeNeLux Series. Credit: Bas Koeten Racing

With the UK having such a big Touring Car fan base as well, this would open up the team to a new audience and also give them the chance to show off their racecraft and skills outside of the European TCR Arena.

The benefit of the TCR UK Calendar is that this doesn’t clash withe 2018 TCR Europe and TCR Benelux Calendars, so again a dual programme could be possible! Now my final “potential” entrant might be a bit of a surprise…but stick with me on this one, there’s some solid thinking behind this choice.

Team Target Competition

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The Team Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR that will compete in the 2018 TCR Europe Series. Credit: Team Target Competition

As I’ve pointed out earlier in this post, the benefit of the TCR UK Calendar is that this doesn’t clash with 2018 TCR Europe and TCR Benelux Calendars, so a dual programme is always possible! However it also raises another option: Teams from abroad could use the earlier start date of TCR UK as a test session to bed in their new cars.

Team Target Competition are another team who could potentially make an entry in the series. They already have experience of the ADAC TCR Germany Series, the TCR Europe Cup and the TCR Italy Series and have seen title success with Josh Files.

There is always the chance they could add the UK title to their belts, especially as the team has announced that Reece Barr will race one of the three Hyundai’s already confirmed for their 2018 TCR Europe campaign as well as a second programme in TCR Italy with 2018 Honda’s…

Stefano Comini

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Stefano Comini in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

“What??? Comini??? In the UK???” I hear you all say? “Never, he’d never race in the UK!”

Follow my thinking for a moment… The Guru hasn’t gone mad just quite yet…

So back in 2015, Autosport released an article where Comini, who had just secured his first TCR International Series, explained that he would love to have a chance to driver in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship:

“I want to do a BTCC round,” Comini told Autosport. “This is one of my dreams. I have a lot of respect for BTCC – really more than the World Touring Car Championship, which is boring now. BTCC is a proper touring car championship.”

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Stefano Comini in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

Now whilst this was three years ago, Comini has also done some guest appearances for the Top Run Italia Motorsport team in 2017, where he drove the Subaru Impreza at both Imola and Monza.

So, with his dream of wanting to race in the BTCC, a series that is difficult to get into unless you have a large budget that gives you a guaranteed ride for the entire season…why not race in the new TCR UK series? it makes sense.

Comini already has knowledge of four different TCR cars from his career so far: The SEAT Leon TCR, the Volkswagen Golf TCR, the Audi RS3 LMS TCR and the Subaru, so setup knowledge wouldn’t be an issue. The two time TCR International Series is also very good at adapting to new circuits so that wouldn’t present an issue either.

Stefano Comini (Top Run Motorsport,Subaru STI TCR #99)
Stefano Comini driving the Top Run Motorsport Subaru STI TCR in the 2017 TCR Italy Series. Credit: ACI Sport / TCR Italy

Also, imagine the entry list with Comini on board. I can see the headlines now: “Two time TCR International Series joins TCR UK Series!”…

OK, that would be mine anyway…

Besides the fact that the new for 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) has confirmed that they have all 26 slot filled for the season ahead and that if he can’t get a ride, its highly possible he’ll appear as a contender in the 2018 TCR Europe Series… but don’t rule out the chance that this popular character could make a visit to the UK.

The Brits from Abroad!!!

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Josh Files driving the Team Target Competition Honda Civic TCR in the 2017 TCR Europe Cup. Credit: WSC / TCR Europe

There is always the possibility of the British drivers who have competed in overseas TCR Series to have a go at winning the title for the first ever TCR UK Series as well and lets face it, we have some of the best TCR drivers in the world challenging for race wins and titles!

Josh Files is a three-time TCR Champion, having won the ADAC TCR Germany Series two years in a row and winning the inaugural TCR middle East Series. Add in fellow Brit Alex Morgan who has also raced in the ADAC TCR Germany Series and there is great pedigree already from two drivers who know how to race in a large and competitive field of TCR cars.

James Nash competed for Craft-Bamboo Racing for two years in the TCR International Series were he took several wins and in his first year was in the fight for the Drivers Title straight away. Add in his experience of the UK circuits from his days in the BTCC and again, this is an intriguing thought. With Finlay Crocker already announced to race in TCR UK, Nash would be a great addition to the series and well adapted to TCR Machinery.

What the Guru Thinks…

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So all in all, whilst not all of these driver/team suggestions and entries have been formally announced, I’m hopeful that there will be a grid size of up to 20 cars for the first season of the TCR UK Series. I think this is an achievable figure myself, however many would disagree…and probably will.

When you consider that there is a lot of interest for the series, this would be quite a decent number to start of with. Remember that ADAC TCR Germany started off with 26 entries and that is for a series that has the DTM to contend with as the country’s top tintop series. Although the DTM is a Manufacturer led series, the fact that there is a large contingent of TCR entries shows that a Domestic TCR Series can work with a much stronger Domestic Tintop series already established.

However, whats been made clear by the organisers is that they will release a full entry list on 6th March. Should drivers or teams wish to go pubic with their entry for TCR UK then that’s something that is encouraged and is supported by the TCR UK Organisers.

Whilst I do all that I can to support the series, I can only guess how many people are involved and entered as I won’t know the full entry myself… until 6th March, just like the rest of you.

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Kevin Giacon driving the Opel Astra TCR in the 2017 TCR Italy Series. Credit: ACI Sport / TCR Italy

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

Denis Dupont confirms 2018 WTCR Programme with Comtoyou Racing…

Belgian driver Denis Dupont has revealed that he has signed a deal with Belgian Audi team Comtoyou Racing to contest the 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR)

Dupont has confirmed that the RACB will be supporting his first full season of International Touring Car racing. Dupont competed in a SEAT Leon jointly backed by both the RACB and Comtoyou Racing where he competed in the final two round of the 2017 TCR International Series in China and Dubai.

Dupont explained his excitement ahead of the new season:

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

“First of all, I am very happy to continue the adventure in the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium! “ Denis explained. “Few drivers have made it to three seasons with the support of the national federation. I am very honoured.”

“I am on a cloud with the idea of ​​carrying out a full campaign in WTCR, in a world championship. In addition, I will continue to run with Comtoyou Racing, a team I already know well for having driven in both the TCR International Series and the VW Fun Cup.”

Dupont is joining Comtoyou Racing for the season, who outlined they have the potential to run up to three Audi RS3 LMR TCR cars in the 2018 WTCR. The Series organisers have confirmed that entries will go to both WTCC and TCR International Series as a priority as it looks to have a quality grid of 26 cars.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Whilst being the first driver to confirm that he will be contesting the WTCR, Dupont is keeping his aspirations in check.

“To say that I will aim for the title would be pretentious,” he adds. “There are a lot of circuits that I will discover. But no question of playing the fake modest either.”

“My goal is to fight at the front of the pack, score and finish on the podium as often as possible. Already, I thank the RACB, Comtoyou Racing and Diamond for allowing me to live this wonderful adventure.”

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Comtoyou Racing ran 2015 and 2016 TCR International Series Champion Stefano Comini and Sportscar driver Frederic Vervisch in 2017 with Comini taking three wins during the year.

Dupont joined the team in his SEAT Leon at the Zhejiang Circuit in China for his first taste of International Touring Car action outside of the TCR Benelux Series. Dupont took two wins in the series and one pole position during 2017 and was straight up to speed in the TCR International Series

The first round of the 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) takes place at the Marrakech circuit in Morocco on April 7 – 8.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

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

Please note that all images in this blog post are used courtesy of WSC / TCR International Series.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

The Entry List…

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---Race 1 start_02

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

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

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

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

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

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

Hyundai Shows Its Heels Again…

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

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

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

Well, Gabriele certainly did that.

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

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

Team Target Competition In The Hunt…

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

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

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

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---21 Giacomo Altoè_2

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

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

The Audi Weight Break…

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

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

However the weight break comes in handy for two reasons.

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

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

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

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

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

Adding The DSG Trophy…

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

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

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

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

The Volkswagen Challenge…

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

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However, it didn’t work out that way…

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

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

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

Comte Surprised Them All…

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The Future…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---44 Plamen Kralev_01

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---88 Maxime Potty_02

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---05_Kevin_Giacon_042

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2017 TCR Europe Trophy: Adria

TCR drivers from all over Europe are bound for Adria

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---Race 1 Josh Files leads_03

Seven brands represented in the 2017 TCR Europe Trophy

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

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

Files and Altoè pair up at Target Competition

2017-2017 Adria Friday---99_Josh_Files_002

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

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

One Peugeot 308 for Aurélien Comte

2017-2017 Adria Friday---07_Aurelian_Comte_002

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

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

Buri and Kangas come from the North

2017-2017 Adria Friday---10_Antti_Buri_018

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

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

A Russian duo for Innocenti-AMG Motorsport

2017-2017 Adria Friday---15_Lev_Tolkachev_022

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

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

Engstler Motorsport enters the youngest team

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---08_Luca_Engstler_126

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

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

An Alfa Romeo Giulietta for Luigi Ferrara

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---16_Luigi_Ferrara_073

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

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

TCR Ibérico champion joins with a Volkswagen

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---11_Francisco_Abreu_053

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

Team WRT with Maxime Potty’s VW Golf

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---88_Maxime_Potty_070

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

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

Bulgaria’s Plamen Kralev to race his Audi

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---44_Plamen_Kralev_085

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

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

Hyundai will be ‘transparent’

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---30_Gabriele_Tarquini_149

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

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---05_Kevin_Giacon_042

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

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

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---30_Gabriele_Tarquini_161

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---08_Luca_Engstler_114

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

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

Q1 – Tarquini is faster than Potty

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---88_Maxime_Potty_065

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---21_Giacomo_Altoe_078

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

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

Q2 – Tarquini and Files are the fastest

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---99_Josh_Files_076

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

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

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

Drivers’ quotes after the Qualifying

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---30_Gabriele_Tarquini_099

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---99_Josh_Files_038

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---21_Giacomo_Altoe_051

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---08_Luca_Engstler_063

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---52_Giovanni_Altoe_035

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---07_Aurelien_Comte_072

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

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---53 Sandro Pelatti_01

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---21 Giacomo Altoè_01

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

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

Race 1 – Files wins from Tarquini and Altoè

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---99 Josh Files_02

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

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---16 Luigi Ferrara_04

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

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

Race 2 – Tarquini wins, but Comte is the champion

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---30 Gabriele Tarquini_03

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

This was enough for him to grab the European title.

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---99 Josh Files_01

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---52 Giovanni Altoè_02

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

Drivers’ quotes after the two races

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---7 Aurelien Comte_05

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---21 Giacomo Altoè_1

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---99 Josh Files_02

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---10 Antti Buri_02

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

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

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

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---39 Florian Thoma_03

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

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

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!