TCR in 2018: What we know about The TCR Europe Series so far…

With the recent news about the new FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) created for next season, I’ve put together a post regarding one of the other International series that’s in action next year: The 2018 TCR Europe Series…

The last two weeks have been full of confirmation and news as we witness the end of both the FIA World Touring Car Championship with its Super 2000 TC1 Regulations and also the end of the TCR International Series.

The landscape is changing for International Touring Car Racing in 2018 and its something that’s needed to happen for a while now… However let me also make it clear that the decisions made recently are not the most popular, even though it may seem that way to many.

rsz_1e03196f2abf1bdfc33bdecfa4391041e134e8f2

That’s something I’m witnessing in the Facebook Groups I run and also in other areas of Social Media…WTCR is a hotly contested subject right now and I’m sure that will continue to be the case during the winter and well into the new season.

So what will be in place instead of the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the TCR International Series for 2018?

There are two series in place. Firstly, there is the FIA World Touring Car Cup, which will run to TCR regulations leased from WSC Ltd for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The series will be run by WTCC series boss Francois Ribeiro and promoted by Eurosport Events Ltd. The FIA and members of WSC will administer the BoP on all entries.

I’ll be putting together a post about this series in due course…

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

The second series is the TCR Europe Series. This will also be open to TCR regulation cars as the FIA European Touring Car Cup has now also been closed down for the foreseeable future. Here are the facts…

The TCR Europe Trophy will be upgraded to a proper international series from next year.
The 2018 TCR Europe Series will be run over six race meetings on some of the most glamorous racetracks in Europe and will be promoted by the TCR Euro Series Ltd., a subsidiary of WSC Ltd.

The TCR Europe Trophy was first held in 2016, using events of the existing TCR national series in Benelux, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Russia and was won by Pierre-Yves Corthals at the wheel of an Opel Astra entered by DG Sport Compétition.

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

This year the Trophy was held at a one-off event at the Adria International Raceway, where DG Sport retained the title with a Peugeot 308 driven by Aurélien Comte.

Next year’s change will mark a further step forward, establishing a third regional series for TCR cars that adds to the existing the TCR Asia Series and the TCR Middle East Series.

Promoter Paulo Ferreira explained: “We thought the time had come to launch a proper European series. It is a logical evolution for those teams that are already racing in the TCR national championships and aim for stepping up into international competition.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

The event format will feature the Qualifying session split into Q1 and Q2, and two 25-minute races with standing starts and a top-ten reverse grid for Race 2.

Two titles will be awarded, for Drivers and Teams.
The entry fees will be 17,500 euros for the full season and 4,000 euros ‘race-by-race’.
All races will be streamed live on Motorsport TV and http://www.europe.tcr-series.com.

2018 TCR Europe Series Calendar:

6th May: Le Castellet, France
10th June: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
8th July: Hungaroring, Hungary
19th August: TT Assen, The Netherlands
23rd September: Monza, Italy
21st October: Barcelona, Spain

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

This series represents a cheaper option for teams that have TCR machinery to compete in Europe outside of their domestic TCR series. The recent announcement of the entry fee for WTCR confirms a two car entry at the amount of 150,000 euros for the season.

With an entry fee thats 132,500 euros cheaper to enter (for one car), the TCR Europe Series could indeed be a series that attracts a bigger entry. However time will tell as teams and drivers prepare their programmes during the winter.

The true test will be the amount of drivers and cars that line up in the grid for the first race at Paul Ricard in May. Be assured though that the racing will still be just as close as it was in previous versions of the TCR Europe Trophy and in the TCR International Series itself.

Note: Since the writing of this post originally, there has been an update on the calendar of the 2018 TCR Europe Series. Please see the additional information here:

The new TCR Europe Series and TCR Benelux will share the bill in five race meetings during the 2018 season.

This also enables the TCR Europe Series to add a seventh event to its previously announced calendar, which will be at Circuit Zandvoort in the Netherlands on Whitsun Monday 21st May. The competitors of TCR Europe and Benelux series will race together at Zandvoort, Spa, Hungaroring, Assen and Barcelona

As a result, the full season entry fee for TCR Europe has been raised by 2000 euros from 17,500 to 19,500.

2018 TCR Europe Series / TCR Benelux Series Calendar

6th May: Le Castellet, France
21st May: Zandvoort, Netherlands
10th June: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
8th July: Hungaroring, Hungary
19th August: TT Assen, Netherlands
23rd September: Monza, Italy
21st October: Barcelona, Spain

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, Domestic TCR 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 FIA WTCR, TCR Europe 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.

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

 

2017 TCR International Series: The Finale in Dubai

At the time of writing this blog, there were no confirmed plans of what would happen for 2018. So please, enjoy my round up of what turned out to be the last ever (so far…) TCR International Series event which took place in Dubai…

The ultimate title fight to be staged in the Emirates

The Dubai Autodrome played host to the final event of the 2017 TCR International Series that decided the battles for the Drivers’, Teams’ and Model of the Year titles.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

This was the first time that the International Series has visited the Emirates’ circuit that was inaugurated in 2004 and which hosted the first event of the TCR Middle East Series last January. Those two races were won by Luca Engstler and Brendan Gdovic at the wheel of Volkswagen Golf GTI cars run by the Liqui Moly Team Engstler.

Three titles are still on offer in the final event

The season finale in Dubai was the decider for all three titles on offer in the 2017 TCR International Series.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

In the fight for the Drivers’ championship, Leopard Racing’s Jean-Karl Vernay took the most out of the previous event in China and regained the lead in the standings with a 29-point margin ahead of M1RA Racing’s Attila Tassi.

Two other drivers were still in contention: the 2015 and 2016 champion Stefano Comini (Comtoyou Racing) and Tassi’s teammate Roberto Colciago; however, with gaps of 42 and 46 points respectively – when 55 are still at stake – they were hoping for a miracle to happen.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

With a leading margin of 71 points, M1RA was just one step away from the Teams’ title. Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing lies in second position, but because there are only 95 points to be awarded over the last race weekend, the Hong Kong-based outfit’s chances were more theoretical than real.

The battle for the Model of the Year award was much closer, with the Honda Civic currently followed by the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a gap of only 30 points (and 95 at stake).

Success ballast for Morbidelli, Vernay and Tarquini

None of the drivers would carry the maximum Success Ballast of 30 kilos in the final event of the season at Dubai. In fact, Rob Huff who scored the greatest amount of points at Zhejiang, would not be racing in the Emirates.

2017-2017 Dubai Race 1---10 Gianni Morbidelli_64.jpg

The second-best scorer in China, Gianni Morbidelli, carried 20 extra kilos on board his WestCoast Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI, while the 10 kilos for the third best scorer was imposed on the championship leader Jean-Karl Vernay.

Although he was not allowed to score points, because the Hyundai i30 N cars are running under a temporary homologation form, Gabriele Tarquini also had 10 kilos of success ballast on board. This is because he would have been the Chinese event’s third best scorer had he not been ‘transparent’.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

In terms of running weights, this means that Morbidelli’s Volkswagen weighed 1285kg (1285kg minimum weight + 20kg Success Ballast – 20kg Balance of Performance adjustment), Vernay’s Volkswagen 1275kg (1285kg + 10kg SB – 20kg BoP) and Tarquini’s Hyundai 1335 kg (1285kg + 10kg SB + 40kg BoP).

Gordon Shedden joins Leopard Racing in Dubai

Triple British Touring Car champion Gordon Shedden joined the Leopard Racing WRT Team for the final event of the TCR International Series at Dubai, where he drove one of the team’s Volkswagen Golf GTI cars alongside Jean-Karl Vernay.

2017-2017 Dubai Friday---73 Gordon Shedden_79

Shedden replaced Rob Huff, who was unavailable due to a clashing commitment, and his mission was to help Vernay in his attempt to secure the Drivers’ title.

The 38-year-old from Edinburgh has established himself as one of the most successful BTCC drivers ever, with 48 race wins in twelve seasons and three titles in 2012, 2015 and 2016, becoming the third Scotsman to win the championship after Jim Clark and John Cleland. Shedden also finished second twice (2011 and 2013) and third three times (2007, 2010 and 2014) in the championship.

He said: “I’m excited to join Leopard Racing and WRT where I will use all my experience to help Jean-Karl secure the Championship. The TCR International Series looks really competitive but I am looking forward to the challenge!”

M1RA calls up Josh Files for the season finale

Josh Files was called up by M1RA to race in a third Honda Civic car at the Dubai Autodrome, for the final race meeting of the TCR International Series.

2017-2017 Dubai Friday---95 Josh Files_49

The Briton joined team regulars Attila Tassi and Roberto Colciago, with the task of supporting them in the fight for the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles.

During the last two seasons, Files has emerged as one of the most successful drivers in TCR cars, having twice won the ADAC TCR Germany title (2016 and 2017) and the inaugural TCR Middle East title (2017). Most recently, he was classified third in the TCR Europe Trophy at Adria after winning the first race.

Files said: “This will be my third straight year contesting the final round of the TCR International Series. I’m thrilled to be doing it and am aiming to challenge for victories and to help M1RA and Honda achieve their title ambitions, despite the circuit being new to me. M1RA have done a superb job in their first year, have an incredible record for such a young team and always field fast and well-presented cars. I can’t wait to get going.”

TCR Europe Trophy winner, Comte joins DG Sport in Dubai

The winner of the TCR Europe Trophy, Aurélien Comte, made his TCR International Series debut at Dubai.

2017-2017 Dubai Friday---27 Aurelien Comte_47

The young Frenchman was Mat’o Homola’s teammate at the wheel of an Opel Astra TCR for DG Sport Compétition. Comte has driven for the Belgian team throughout the season in a Peugeot 308, finishing third in the TCR Benelux series (with three race wins) and clinching the TCR Europe Trophy at the Adria International Raceway two weeks ago.

Team manager Christian Jupsin commented: “I wish to thank Monsieur Demoustier and his company Eurodatacar for supporting this initiative. I am delighted to offer Aurélien the opportunity to make his debut in the TCR International Series. He has completed a fantastic season at the wheel of our Peugeot 308.

We are aware that it won’t be possible to judge his performance at Dubai in a car he doesn’t know and against drivers who are used to the races of the International Series. But we are confident that he will approach this event with the right spirit, to fully benefit from this end-of-season bonus.”

Benjamin Leuchter to drive for WestCoast Racing

WestCoast Racing named Benjamin Leuchter as Gianni Morbidelli’s teammate for the final event of the TCR International Series at Dubai.

2017-2017 Dubai Friday---13 Benjamin Leuchter_18

Leuchter is one of the most experienced Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR drivers and this year, as well as his role as an instructor with the brand, he celebrated five class victories in the VLN endurance series at the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife. Last year he competed in the ADAC TCR Germany series and finished fifth in the championship.

“I’m really happy to join WestCoast Racing for the final round of the TCR International Series,” said Leuchter. “After winning the TCR class in the VLN and in the Nürburgring 24h, it will be another highlight for me to come back to sprint racing in the Golf TCR. I’m really looking forward to work with such a professional team like WestCoast Racing. I don’t know the Dubai track, so this will be an extra motivation for me.”

Tarquini and Menu return with the Hyundai i30 N cars

After a successful debut in the previous event at Zhejiang, the BRC Racing Team returned racing the new Hyundai i30 N TCR cars for Gabriele Tarquini and Alain Menu.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

The Korean car made a strong impression on its maiden appearance in the TCR International Series, as Tarquini claimed an authoritative win in the first of the Chinese races, despite his 13th position on the starting grid.

After observing a drive-through penalty for causing a collision in Race 1, his teammate Menu confirmed the potential of the Hyundai i30 N by recovering from 14th at the start to fourth position at the end of the race. His performance was no less impressive, considering that both his and Tarquini’s cars were laden by 40 kg of success ballast after the first race.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Three weeks after that resounding debut, Tarquini encored in the TCR Europe Trophy at Adria, where he finished second in Race 1 and won Race 2, for an impressive 50% winning score of the new car.

At Dubai, just as in Zhejiang and Adria, the two Hyundai cars were not be eligible to score points as they are still accepted with a temporary homologation document. This also means that they will not be eligible to qualify for Q2.

Shedden and Vernay lock out the front row for Leopard Racing

For the second consecutive event, Leopard Racing locked out the front row for Race 1. After Rob Huff and Jean-Karl Vernay qualified first and second in Zhejiang, TCR newcomer Gordon Shedden and Vernay claimed the same result at Dubai in the TCR International Series finale.

2017-2017 Dubai Friday---73 Gordon Shedden_58

Once again it was an extremely close session, with 17 cars in the same second.
The result also meant that Vernay moved even closer to securing the Drivers’ title. The four points for second place in Qualifying helped the Frenchman to stretch his lead in the standing to 25 points ahead of Attila Tassi, who will start the second race from pole position thanks to the reverse top-ten grid.

Now Vernay has a great opportunity to wrap up the title fight in Race 1, especially since the Honda cars struggled to be on the pace with both Josh Files and Roberto Colciago failing to go through to Q2.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

On his first TCR appearance, Shedden was able to claim pole position. Using his vast experience in touring car racing, the triple BTCC champion completed a perfect lap in Q2. Which was also something of a surprise, considering that he had been the last driver to make the cut in Q1, only 26 thousandths of a second faster than Files.

Benjamin Leuchter provided the icing on the cake for Volkswagen Motorsport, placing his WestCoast Racing Golf GTI in third position. It was a great result for the young German driver, winner of the TCR class in the VLN endurance series.

The two Hyundai i30 N cars of Gabriele Tarquini and Alain Menu will start both races from 13th and 14th as they are still running with a temporary homologation form and therefore were not eligible to qualify for Q2. They posted the second (Tarquini) and fourth (Menu) fastest laps in Q1 and the whole paddock is curious to see if they will be able to elbow their way through the field, just like Tarquini did in China where he won Race 1.

Qualifying 1: Dupont beats Tarquini

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Denis Dupont continued to impress and set the fastest lap in the first part of Qualifying, stopping the clock at 1:28.154 under the chequered flag, beating Gabriele Tarquini’s 1:28.403. Benjamin Leuchter set the third fastest lap (1:28.425) ahead of the second Hyundai car of Alain Menu (1:28.431).

Championship leader Jean-Karl Vernay was fifth fastest (1:28.457), while his competitors in the title fight, Comini and Tassi, ranked sixth and eighth respectively.
Several drivers had lap times disallowed for not respecting track limits, including Tarquini, Nash (twice), Morbidelli (twice), Comte, Kajaia, Borković and Files.

With the two Hyundai i30 N cars of Menu and Tarquini not eligible to qualify for Q2, Comte and Shedden (13th and 14th fastest respectively), took the last two places for the second part.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

The following drivers went through to Q2: Dupont, Leuchter, Vernay, Comini, Lloyd, Tassi, Morbidelli, Oriola, Vervisch, Nash, Comte, Shedden.

Among those who did not make the cut were Josh Files (with gearbox problems), Borković, Homola (with engine problems) and Colciago,

Qualifying 2: Shedden claims his first TCR pole

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

After qualifying for Q2 by the skin of his teeth in 14th place, Gordon Shedden claimed the pole position on his first appearance in a TCR car. His first lap out of 1:28.055 had already placed him on top of the time sheet, but the Scotsman was able to improve further to 1:27.848; the only driver to break the 1:28 barrier.

Eventually his teammate Vernay climbed to second with a lap of 1:28.045, with Leuchter third (1:28.119) and Pepe Oriola fourth (1:28.179).
Dupont was not able to repeat his Q1 performance and qualified in fifth position; he also stopped on the track on his last attempt due to driveshaft failure.

Tassi and Comini posted the 10th and 9th fastest laps respectively so that they will fill the front row on the reverse grid for Race 2.

Quotes after the Qualifying Session

 

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Gordon Shedden (pole position): “It took a lot of time this morning to understand the car, we struggled quite a bit with the set-up, so I wasn’t expecting at all to be on pole. My first very good lap was at the end of Q1 and I went out quite early in Q2 to set up a time that was not beaten. Everything was new for me: the series, the car, the tyres and the team. Everything is quite different from what I am used to, but I am enjoying a lot this first TCR experience. The quality and the level of the series is very high, and the car is fun to drive. I am here to help the team and Jean-Karl, although he is very capable himself. I’m here to do the best job I can for them.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Jean-Karl Vernay (2nd): “It’s again a great result for Leopard Racing, and I congratulate Gordon for clinching the pole in his first TCR appearance. Not a real surprise, we know what he is worth… Starting from the first row tomorrow will be very good, I just hope we’ll pass first corner unscathed. A strategy is never easy to do, but the key will be to stay patient and be smart. I am confident in our car, in the team and in my ability, so I will approach things avoiding useless pressure.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Benjamin Leuchter (3rd): “I am very happy to be here and grateful to WestCoast Racing. It’s nice to be back to sprint racing, after a season in VLN. Of course, I know the Golf well but everything in today’s qualifying exercise was completely different from what I have done this year on the Nordschleife. It’s a great result for the Golf cars and after struggling a bit with the set-ups this morning, we found a good compromise, thanks to the excellent work of the team. Tomorrow? I’ll just go flat-out!”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Attila Tassi (10th): “We had a difficult morning, but things went better in Qualifying. I had a good pace in Q1 and could have done better but when I was told on the radio that P10 was secure, I lift off. It will be crucial to start from pole in Race 2 and I hope we can keep the title battle alive until the very end!”

Vernay is crowned Drivers’ champion as Oriola and Comini share race victories

The 2017 TCR International Series’ final event at the Dubai Autodrome was a thrilling decider for all three titles on offer.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Jean-Karl Vernay was crowned the new Drivers’ champion, while M1RA and the Volkswagen Golf GTI claimed the Teams’ and Model of the Year awards respectively.
Vernay settled the matter in the first race and in his way: a display of clean and faultless driving, in full control of his only real competitor Attila Tassi and patiently waiting for the opportunity to strike the winning blow.

That opportunity came on the penultimate lap when the Frenchman overtook James Nash for third, crushing Tassi’s last remaining hopes. Vernay’s success also meant that the alliance between Leopard Racing and WRT successfully took one of their drivers to the title for the second consecutive year.

Pepe Oriola and Stefano Comini ended the season on a high note, winning one race apiece. Oriola proved that the SEAT León – the first ever TCR car – is still very competitive on its third racing season. Comini – who wanted to abdicate in style while handing the title to his former teammate – was tantalisingly close to securing the second place in the standings, but he eventually lost it to Tassi by a single point.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

The young Hungarian had high hopes before Dubai, but he failed to keep the title fight alive until the last race. He was also denied victory in the second race from pole position as he was punished for a jump-start. However, finishing as the vice-champion in such a competitive series at the tender age of 18, means he already owns the skills to become one of the leading Touring Car drivers in the years to come.

In Race 2, the WestCoast Racing duo of Gianni Morbidelli and Benjamin Leuchter scored the points that helped the Volkswagen Golf to beat the Honda Civic in the Model of the Year Trophy by just five points. Consolation for the Japanese brand came from the Teams’ title that was won by M1RA, which was a great result for the Hungarian team founded by Norbert Michelisz in its maiden season.

Race 1 – Oriola wins, Vernay secures the title

Jean-Karl Vernay of Leopard Racing claimed the 2017 TCR International Series Drivers’ title by finishing third in a race that was dominated by Pepe Oriola.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

The Spaniard’s winning move was a perfect start that propelled him from fourth on the grid to first at Turn 1, ahead of the pole sitter Gordon Shedden and his teammate Vernay.
For the rest of the race, Oriola was very focused and managed to never offer Shedden the hint of a gap to try an overtaking manoeuvre.

Behind them, Gabriele Tarquini elbowed his way through the field, from 21st on the grid up to third, only to retire on the penultimate lap with a puncture.

The title fight drew the most attention as Vernay was lying fourth, closely chased by Attila Tassi. The Frenchman kept his cool, driving without mistakes and eventually settled the matter by moving up to third and placing James Nash between himself and Tassi.

Race 2 – Comini abdicates with victory

Double TCR champion Stefano Comini abdicated in style, as he won the International Series’ final race in his Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

The Swiss driver inherited the lead when Attila Tassi observed a drive-through penalty for a jump-start, and then crossed the line ahead of Gianni Morbidelli. Josh Files completed the podium after a brilliant fight with Denis Dupont who eventually failed to finish due to a flat tyre.

Tassi managed to recover from 17th to 12th – that was actually 10th because of the ‘transparency’ of the two Hyundai cars – scoring a single point that salvaged his second place in the Drivers’ championship ahead of Comini.

Morbidelli’s second place, combined with the sixth position achieved by his WestCoast Racing teammate Benjamin Leuchter earned the ‘Model of the Year’ trophy for the Volkswagen Golf by five points ahead of the Honda Civic.

Quotes from the podium finishers in the two races

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Jean-Karl Vernay (third in Race 1 – 2017 Drivers’ champion): “I don’t know yet how I feel… but obviously, it is great to be champion! I am very happy for Leopard Racing, WRT and Volkswagen. My start today was poor, so the race wasn’t easy. Strategy did not work, as there was another car between Shedden and me, so I had to do things on my own… I fought with Nash and had Tassi pushing behind, but I remained calm. Towards the end, Nash was slower because his tyres were gone, so I knew I could pass him, but waited until the last lap not to create a new fight. Personally, this title means a lot to me, as it comes after titles in LMP, GT and single-seaters, proving that I can will with all sorts of cars.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Pepe Oriola (winner of Race 1): “I am really happy with this win, it was about time. I won at first event and now at last, it’s a pity we had such bad luck in-between… My start was really great, I was at the edge of stalling, but luckily it didn’t happen. I saw enough space close to the wall and just kept going, as I had nothing to lose. All this put me in P1 at first corner, but it was a very tough race as gaps were always very close, given also the safety-car period. Shedden was faster than me in some points, especially in turn 7, but I knew I could control the situation. Nothing bad happened this time and it is really nice to finish the season on a high.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Stefano Comini (winner of Race 2): “It’s nice to finish the season on a high and to hand over the crown to Jean-Karl Vernay with a win. It has been a very tough year for us, but it was great to be part of the Comtoyou project, which only took off two weeks before the start of the season. Race 2 was pretty good; it generally is when you start at the front and have no extra weight! Missing the runner-up position in the final standings by only one point is not a problem: second is always the worst place to be, but to be on top of the final podium is a good reward for everybody in the team and at Audi.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Gordon Shedden (second in Race 1): “Being my first race in TCR, with this car and these tyres, I am happy with the result. My start wasn’t terrible but not very good either, clearly I lack some experience with TCR cars, but after, I could keep a good pace, trying not to do anything stupid. The car performed well, although I lost an aero part at some point, and I am very happy the team secured the title already in Race 1. Now we can have fun in Race2.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Gianni Morbidelli (second in Race 2): “I am happy to finish the season with a second place. It’s a very good result, considering the 20 kilos of Success Ballast we had; on a circuit like this you can really feel the difference. It’s also nice to finish the season like that, after a very difficult first part, when we had to learn the car and come to grips with it. We really did a very good work with Volkswagen and WestCoast Racing, and I am really proud of what we achieved together. I’m also proud to have scored the points that earned the Volkswagen Golf the Model of the Year award.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Josh Files (third in Race 2): “It’s the end of a very busy and intense TCR season for me, which started here by winning the Middle East series, an excellent way to prepare the season. Then came a second title in the TCR Germany, the toughest TCR series, after a long and closely-fought season. I was in contention also for the Europe Trophy in Adria, finishing on the podium, and here I am again on the podium in the closing round of the TCR International. I thank M1RA for inviting me. Of course, the objective was to help Attila Tassi in his title quest, but it turned out it was not to be for him. In Race2, I had fun battling with Dupont, I knew he had a puncture and I would pass him, but it was intense and fun the entire race.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 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 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.

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

Please note that all images 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.

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

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.

2017-2017 Adria Friday---30_Gabriele_Tarquini_049

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.

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

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.

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

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.

2017-2017 Adria Friday---10_Antti_Buri_036

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.

2017-2017 Adria Friday---44_Plamen_Kralev_009

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.

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---52_Giovanni_Altoe_065

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.

2017-2017 Adria Saturday---08_Luca_Engstler_114

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.

2017-2017 Adria Friday---88_Maxime_Potty_028

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.

 

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---7 Aurelien Comte_09 (1)

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.

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

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.

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---10 Antti Buri_01

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!!!

TCR News Roundup…March 2017 Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017Int_photo_news_037_d620f1366df0d909f2b395cc334b5863

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

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

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

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

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

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

PAULSEN AIMS AT THE TCR EUROPEAN TROPHY

2017-2017 Adria BoP---04 Honda Civic_12

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

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

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

ICARUS MOTORSPORTS TO ADD A SECOND CAR FROM SPA

2017Int_photo_news_038_ee272a6925ca0d422cad75813acfce24

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

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

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

Norbert Michelisz launches M1RA for TCR International title assault

e5acb90e-4584-4c62-ac23-06897a63ccc6

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

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

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

TCR series Sochi, Russia 02 - 03 July 2016

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

TCR International Series Sepang, Malaysia 29 September - 01 Octo

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

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

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

Q&A with Norbert Michelisz, Team Owner:

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

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

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

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

HYUNDAI SIGNS GABRIELE TARQUINI AS TCR TEST DRIVER

2017Int_photo_news_041_a687c956d146dfc970bbdbd3dc44b8cc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMINI IN AN AUDI RS 3 LMS RUN BY COMTOYOU RACING

2017Int_photo_news_042_75729ef383156bbbde05721a72a29720

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

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

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

TCR International Series Sepang, Malaysia 29 September - 01 Octo

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

VESNIĆ TO RACE AN AUDI IN THE EUROPEAN TROPHY

2017-2017 Adria BoP---03 Audi SEQ_16

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

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

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

CORTHALS AND HOMOLA IN DG SPORT’S OPEL ASTRA CARS

TCR International Series Balance of Performance Test, Adria 1 -

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

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

TCR International Series Balance of Performance Test, Adria 1 -

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

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

ZENGŐ MOTORSPORT TO RACE STARD-BUILT KIA CARS

TCR International Series Balance of Performance Test, Adria 1 -

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

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

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

TCR International Series Balance of Performance Test, Adria 1 -

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

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

JENS MØLLER ENTERS A HONDA CIVIC IN THE EUROPEAN EVENTS

TCR International Series Balance of Performance Test, Adria 1 -

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

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

LEOPARD RACING CONFIRMS INTERNATIONAL SERIES PROGRAMME

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

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

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

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

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

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

FICZA BEGINS THE SEASON WITH ZELE RACING

2017Int_photo_news_052_e699aa504ea6b161298c28a25b191f14

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

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

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

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

 

TCR series Imola, Italy 22 May 2016

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!