TCR UK 2018: The National and International Possibilities……

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The National Interest / Possibilities:

Sean Walkinshaw Racing: Honda Civic TCR

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

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

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

Pyro Motorsport: Honda Civic TCR

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

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

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

Carl Swift/Area Motorsport: SEAT Leon TCR

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

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

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

Tom Boardman: Audi RS3 LMS TCR

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

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

Lewis Kent Racing: Hyundai i30 N TCR

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

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

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

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

Maximum Motorsport: SEAT Leon TCR

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

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

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

MellioSport: Audi RS3 LMS TCR

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

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

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

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

VFR Racing: 2018 Honda Civic TCR

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The Honda Civic FK8 TCR. Credit: TCR Series

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

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

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

The International Interest / Possibilities…

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The 2017 TCR International Series in Germany. Credit: TCR Series

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

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

Craft-Bamboo Racing

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

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

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

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

Coleman explained in the interview that:

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

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

WestCoast Racing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bas Koeten Racing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Target Competition

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

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

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

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

Stefano Comini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, that would be mine anyway…

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

The Brits from Abroad!!!

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

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

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

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

What the Guru Thinks…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

TCR UK Announces Broadcast Package for 2018 Season…

The TCR UK Series has confirmed its Broadcasting plans for the opening season of the Championship that gets underway on 31st March on the Silverstone National Circuit.

TCR UK will have every race streamed live on a variety of platforms, including Facebook Live, YouTube and the TCR portal, while TV stations including Front Runner, Motorsport TV and Sky Sports will also broadcast the series.

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The confirmation of Motorsport TV upholds a tradition for TCR Series racing as the channel has been the primary broadcaster in the UK for the TCR International Series, The TCR Asia Series and the TCR Europe Trophy. This announcement means that both TCR UK and The TCR Europe Series will be live on Motorsport TV in 2018.

Pro-Active Broadcast will handle the production for both the live stream and the broadcast programmes. The company has 28 years of experience in producing dynamic sports coverage, delivering broadcast services to clients around the world.  They also have a long history of motorsport coverage for successful endurance racing championships such as Britcar, the Fun Cup and previously TGP F1.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Pro-Active Broadcast’s more recent outside broadcast projects include live coverage of the Varsity Rugby Match from Twickenham for the BBC, the Africa vs. UK international boxing event from Manchester and selected FA Cup and Women’s Premier League football for BT Sport.

The company is currently the broadcast partner for the live coverage of the Modern Pentathlon World Cup series and the Dubai Rugby 7s for World Rugby, as well as recent streaming providers for the Air Race 1 World Cup in Thailand and the Star Sailing Finals in the Bahamas. 

The Commenary team for TCR UK will consist of Bryn Lucas, who has hosted coverage of events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Autosport International Show, while Andy McEwan’s voice will be familiar from his circuit commentary plus broadcast and online coverage of a number of series, including several BRSCC championships.

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Mark James, Media Coordinator for TCR UK commented on todays announcement.

“The announcement we’re making today means that everything is now in place for our first season. We think Pro-Active will be fantastic partners and the channels have all shown great enthusiasm for the championship.”

“I’m particularly looking forward to working with Bryn and Andy as our presentation team and I’m sure the fans will enjoy superb coverage of what we are confident will be close, exciting racing this year.”

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 FIA WTCR, The TCR Europe Series, Regional & Domestic TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

Denis Dupont confirms 2018 WTCR Programme with Comtoyou Racing…

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

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

Dupont explained his excitement ahead of the new season:

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

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

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

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

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

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

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

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

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

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

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

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

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

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

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

 

 

TCR in 2018: What we know about The FIA World Touring Car Cup so far….

In what is the last of my series of posts about recent changes for TCR Racing in 2018, this entry covers the change from the FIA World Touring Car Championship to the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR)…

(Warning: This is a long post with a lot of details provided. Tea and Biscuits are advised for the duration of reading this post…)

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Ever since the TC1 regulations were introduced into the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship, something the series has struggled with is entries and interest from Manufacturers, Independent teams and drivers. This was highlighted more than ever in 2017. Citroen and Lada withdrew at the end of 2016 and whilst Volvo joined the series in 2016, this left only two Manufacturers to fight for the MAC3/Manufacturers title.

Whilst Independent teams such as Campos Racing, ROAL Motorsport and Zengo Motorsport returned for 2017, two of these teams downsized to one car. SLR returned with three Citroens whilst Munnich Motorsport also downsized to one car for 2012 Champion, Rob Huff. The first race of the year started off with 15 cars racing around the streets of Marrakech (keeping in mind that a World Championship requires 16 full season entries for every round) and while there were more entries to come, the future of the series was clear.

TC1 Regulations weren’t working in WTCC and the World Championship was in danger of not running in 2018. Keep in mind that over seven different manufacturers were involved in the technical group for creating TC1 regs however there have only ever been four Manufacturers that have entered WTCC with TC1 cars. (The Chevrolet’s are a fifth car built to TC1 regs but these have never been run as manufacturer entries).

Something had to change.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

There were rumours during the year that there could be a change in the International Touring Car landscape that would involve the use of the successful TCR regulations and it soon became clear that there were talks to try to secure the future of the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

There were rumours that an announcement would be released at the final meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council and we were not let down.

This is the following release announcing the changes for 2018 which affected both the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the TCR International Series:

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The FIA World Touring Car Championship will be replaced from 2018 with new technical regulations, a new format and a new name following a vote of approval by the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 6th December.

From next season, the FIA World Touring Car Championship will be renamed the FIA World Touring Car Cup and abbreviated to WTCR. It will run to the TCR technical regulations under a two-year licensing agreement between the FIA, WTCR promoter Eurosport Events Limited (EEL) and WSC,owner of the TCR concept and trademark.

As part of the agreement, the TCR International Series will be discontinued while the FIA European Touring Car Cup will no longer run.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

In an exciting change to the existing WTCC race weekend format, each event will consist of three races – an increase from the current two. One qualifying session and one race will take place on the opening day, with the second day more in keeping with the current WTCC set-up: namely a three-phase qualifying session and two races with the first race utilising a reverse grid.

A maximum of 26 entries will be accepted with priority given to existing TCR International and WTCC teams. Two further wildcard entries will be permitted at each event at the discretion of EEL and the FIA. Entries can be lodged with the FIA from 15 December until 30 January 2018.

The new name, WTCR, has been introduced to reflect the switch from TC1 to the TCR technical regulations. Meanwhile, the change of status from world championship to world cup signals the start of an exciting new era for international touring car racing when it is hoped that more affordable technical regulations will trigger a flurry of competitor interest, while building on the existing fan and media following enjoyed by the WTCC.

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François Ribeiro (Head of Eurosport Events): “The combination of the TCR technical regulations, the expertise and neutrality of the FIA and its stringent sporting rules and procedures, plus the promotional strength of Eurosport Events gained since 2005 will deliver a highly competitive grid, exciting racing and a fan-friendly format that can only drive success.”

Marcello Lotti (Chief Executive, WSC): “We are very proud of this agreement that fully respects the very spirit of TCR. The association with such an experienced promoter as Eurosport Events together with the FIA label on the WTCR represent the ultimate recognition for the TCR concept that we launched three years ago and hasn’t stopped growing since.”

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Sporting Regulations
Regulated by the FIA and backed up by an experienced race management team, WTCR events will be run to the highest organisational standards possible.

Technical Regulations
The TCR technical regulations will be licensed by WSC to EEL/FIA as the FIA WTCR regulations and frozen until the end of 2019. Only TCR cars homologated by WSC and assigned with the FIA WTCR passport issued by the FIA will be eligible. The FIA and TCR technical departments will determine the balance of performance (BOP) at each event, while success ballast will be allocated per driver. The FIA will be responsible for technical management in consultation with TCR representatives.

Promotion
WTCR promoter Eurosport Events will provide a level of promotional resource similar to that enjoyed by the WTCC to ensure that WTCR benefits from live coverage on Eurosport and more than 50 networks around the world, the expertise of Eurosport Events’ promotional and marketing personnel and a comprehensive social media campaign.

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

TCR regulations explained:
The TCR technical regulations cater for front-wheel-drive, four/five-door saloons or hatchbacks using turbocharged production engines with a capacity of between 1750-2000cc and with a maximum power output of 350bhp. No fewer than 19 TCR-based championships or series exist around the world while several manufacturers have, or are in the process, of homologating TCR cars including Alfa Romeo, Audi, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, KIA, LADA, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, SEAT, Subaru and Volkswagen. To date, more than 600 TCR racing cars have been built and sold to customer teams.

So, since this was released on 6th December, what do we know about the new look FIA World Touring Car Cup? Allow the Guru to educate you…

The Calendar…

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Well, we were made to wait 16 days but a provisional calendar was released on 22nd December by Eurosport Events Ltd. Whats clear is that the calendar has retained 90% of the events of the 2017 WTCC Calendar and only one event from the 2017 TCR International Series has been retained, but I’ve explained my thoughts on this in another post here.

2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) Calendar

7-8 April: Marrakech (Morocco)
28-29 April: Hungaroring (Hungary)
10-12 May: Nürburgring Nordschleife (Germany)
19-21 May: Zandvoort (Netherlands)
23-24 June: Vila Real (Portugal)
4-5 August: Termas de Río Hondo (Argentina)
29-30 September: Ningbo (China)
27-28 October: Suzuka (Japan)
15-18 November: Macau (Macau)

An additional event will be added on either 21-22 July or 6-7 October subject to approval.

However, this calendar clearly shows that only one event has been retained from the 2017 TCR International Series Calendar: Hungary.

Here are the list of events that have not been retained from 2017 TCR International Series:

Rustavi, Georgia
Sakhir, Bahrain
Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Monza, Italy
Salzburgring, Austria
Oschersleben, Germany
Buriram, Thailand
Zhejiang, China
Dubai, UAE.

Here are the list of events that have not been retained from 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship:

Monza, Italy
Losail, Qatar.

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This alone makes you think for a moment. Ninety percent of the events from TCR in 2017 have not been retained whilst only two have been dropped from WTCC in 2017. This is clearly due to Eurosport Events Ltd having contracts in place for 2018, however you have to feel for those circuits dropped from TCR. A lot of them had some bloody good racing on them…

The benefit of this calendar is that a lot of the drivers and teams involved in either series will already have setup knowledge of a lot of these tracks. However for those that haven’t raced on these circuits before, the fact that the Race Weekend format has changed will also help a lot.

With two Free Practice Sessions, four Qualifying sessions and Three races to compete in, that’s a lot of time to find the cars sweetspot for the weekend and improve in performance over the three races. However, it’s also a lot of points to lose of your car is damaged in Free Practice and Quali and can’t race or if its damaged heavily in race one…

The Race Weekend Format…

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One of the downfalls of the FIA World Touring Car Championship has always been the confusing nature of the Qualifying format. Back in 2005 it was easy: One Qualifying session of thirty minutes to determine the race one grid. Race two saw the top eight finishers reversed with everyone from ninth place down starting in the same position as they did in race one.

Simple, right? Yeah I thought so too. I won’t go into the various changes that have taken place since but to clarify, here’s the Race Weekend Format for the 2018 FIA WTCR…

Day One:
Free Practice 1 (30 minutes)
Free Practice 2 (30 minutes)
Qualifying (30 minutes)
Race 1 (top 10 classified finishers score points as follows: 27-20-17-14-12-10-8-6-4-2)

Day Two:
Qualifying Q1 (25 minutes)
Qualifying Q2 (10 minutes)
Qualifying Q3 (top-five shootout)
Race 2 (top 10 positions reversed after Q2, top 10 classified finishers score points as follows: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1)
Race 3 (grid as per combined order after Q3, top 10 classified finishers score points as follows: 30-23-19-16-13-10-7-4-2-1)

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

Even my head hurts looking at this!!! Unfortunately it seems that to give the new FIA WTCR its best chance of success, the organisers have opted for two days worth of full on action…and they don’t seem to have learnt from the confusions mistakes/issues of the past.

So let me get this straight for you:

There will be three races (One on the Saturday, two on the Sunday), four lots of Qualifying (One on Saturday, three on Sunday) and finally there will be three lots of points scoring systems depending on which race takes place on which day…

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

(I can already hear Martin Haven groaning in disbelief at the point systems alone…along with everyone else who will be either following or involved with WTCR in 2018. Suddenly being a highly skilled mathematician will be part of the CV of a skilled and experienced commentator…).

Straight away this makes for a busy weekend of action and with the move from two races to three, it means that a lot more resources will be consumed by the series. This will be covered later in post where I explain the increase in entry fees. This move also means that every point scored by drivers and teams will count in all thirty races as they race to the final round in Macau to see who will be the first ever WTCR Champion.

As always, we’ll find out how this will work out as the season progresses and I’m sure any issues will be revealed.

The Potential Entry List…

TCR International Series Bahrain, Sakhir 14 -16 April 2017

From the start, its been made very clear that there will be a maximum grid of 26 cars only for FIA WTCR and that first priority will go to teams from the 2017 versions of both the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the TCR International Series. However this doesn’t stop other teams applying who are interested in racing in a World Cup under TCR Regulations.

As per the above earlier:

“A maximum of 26 entries will be accepted with priority given to existing TCR International and WTCC teams. Two further wildcard entries will be permitted at each event at the discretion of EEL and the FIA. Teams have to field a minimum of two cars, with an entry fee of 150,000 EUR for a two-car team.”

WTCR Series Principle Francois Ribeiro explained the reasons behind both the grid limit and the entry fee increase to TouringCarTimes here. To localise things a bit, here’s what he said about the Grid Limit…

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“We are after quality not volume, we’ve seen some TCR races with big grids, but a lot of red flags and race incidents and a big discrepancy in driving standards.

“We did not feel it was necessary for WTCR, and I was after quality, to select strong teams and strong drivers and work with them on a two-year basis, and not go opening the door to any possible team.

“If we have a grid of 26 full season cars next year, that’s already a very big grid.”

So lets look at this in a bit more detail…

Here are the teams that ran two car entries during the 2017 TCR International Series:

M1RA
Leopard Racing Team / WRT
Comtoyou Racing
Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing
WestCoast Racing
GE-Force
DG Sport Competition

Here are the Independent teams that ran entries during the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship:

Sebastien Loeb Racing
ROAL Motorsport
Munnich Motorsport
RC Motorsport
Campos Racing
Zengo Motorsport

TCR International Series Bahrain, Sakhir 14 -16 April 2017

Now, take the assumption that all teams enter for the 2018 season and you have your 26 car grid straight away. However I’ll make it clear that this is not a list of actual entrants and I am purely making a point here. The period for entries to be lodged with the FIA for the 2018 WTCR runs from 15 December 2017 until 30 January 2018, after which we’ll know who has entered.

What you do have here though is the Quality that Ribeiro referred to. These teams are at the top of their games in International Touring Car Racing and any driver who signed with them is already a highly skilled and qualified talent behind the wheel of either a TCR car or formally a TC1 car.

Budget will also play a big part in entries for next year…which leads to the next subject:

The Entry Fees…

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This has been a subject much debated amongst the members of the Social Media Groups I’m in and its pretty clear to see why. Let me present you with a few figures to bear in mind.

Here are the entry fee amounts for the various Touring Car Series that are involved in the making of the WTCR:

2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) Entry: €150,000 Euros for Two Car Team.
2018 TCR Europe Series Entry: €19,500 per car.
2017 TCR International Series Entry: €40,000 Euros per car.
2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship Manufacturer Entry: €315,000 Euros.
2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship Independent Entry: €39,000 Euros per car.
2018 TCR UK Series full season Entry: £15,000 per car.

Now keep in mind here that with WTCR not being recognised as an official World Championship (We’ll get to that later) due to no Manufacturer involvement, this is why the entry fee for 2018 has increased.

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When you consider that WTCC had four Manufacturers involved in 2016 with at least two cars each (Citroen and Volvo had two, Honda and Lada had three) that’s over a whopping €3,000,000 at least that was paid into the running costs and resources of the championship from Manufacturer entries.

Now with WTCR running with no direct official Manufacturer involvement as per the TCR Sporting regs (TCR has been successful because of the competition between Customer Teams who purchase cars from Manufacturers who have built and tested the cars for them), this means that there has been an increase in the entry fee for former TCR International Series entrants by up to 70k for a two car team whilst a former WTCC Independent team sees a decrease of up to a 72k for a two car team.

Now I realise that costs have to be met to make sure there are adequate resources and transport and there are reasons behind this, but again I can’t help but notice that this seems to be another concession made by TCR entrants… make of that what you will. It also means that TCR entrants will need to step up to meet a larger budget to compete on the same level next year and we are all aware of how difficult that can be for any team that requires sponsors and support to compete.

WTCR Series Principle Francois Ribeiro explained the reasons behind both the grid limit and the entry fee increase to TouringCarTimes here. However here’s what he said about the increase in fees:

TCR International Series Bahrain, Sakhir 14 -16 April 2017

“We took the decision to announce (WTCR) to our teams on the same day. In the 24 hours afterwards, I was in contact with nearly all the TCR International teams and all the TCR manufacturers behind the TCR regulation. The response has been very positive.

“To all of the TCR International teams and manufacturers, I told them WTCR is going to be a bit more expensive than the running costs of TCR International, with no doubt. (The reason for this is) we want to do three races…and the FIA entry fees will be higher as the level of staff we have to manage the sporting and technical equity and fairness of the championship will be higher; so it’ll be more expensive, but you are going to gain a level of professionalism which will bring you to a different level of recognition and sponsor visibility.

“While the TCR teams will be hit with an increase, the running cost for the WTCC teams is set to reduce, as although the entry fee is higher than the 39,000 EUR set for the 2017 season, the running cost of a TCR car is substantially lower, with the engine lease alone for a TC1-specification engine running past 300,000 EUR, while a TCR car with engine was price capped at 130,000 EUR in 2017.

“To all of the WTCC teams I told them it’ll cost them less than WTCC, and you are going to protect your level of exposure throughout the next two years,” added Ribeiro. “So in the end I didn’t have any bad comments about next year. I told to both of them you will have priority before we speak to any teams from outside.”

Ribeiro has made it very clear here that he’s spoken with both sets of teams in regards to the reasons and decisions made here and it seems that all parties are happy. So as I’ve pointed out before, we’ll see what happens at the start of the first season of WTCR competition next year and how many cars we see lining up on the grid at Marrakech.

The Commercial Package…

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We know that there will be little change in the setup of the televised coverage for the WTCR from what was the coverage for WTCC.

Eurosport will be showing races live as part of being the promoter of the Championship, meaning that we should have live coverage of both the Saturday Quali and Race action and that there should be live coverage of the Sunday Quali and Race action.

But, consider for a moment what worked for the TCR International Series and indeed other domestic and regional TCR Series: Free, un-embargoed live coverage on YouTube. I’ve referred to this in another post related to the TCR UK Series here and the same concern should be raised again.

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Previously, not every country has received Live coverage of both Qualifying and the WTCC Race coverage. From a UK perspective, Qualifying has rarely been live and the WTCC races have often been scheduled later in the day so that prime air time can be given to other sports.

I’m fully aware that there is the option of Eurosport Player out there for fans to sign up and use, but remember that TCR fans have had free access to YouTube and in this day in age Online Streaming is becoming ever more popular. If WTCR uses YouTube as well as Live TV coverage for all of the action then this will grow the audience further in what will be a heavily scrutinised first year of competition.

The Alternative Option…

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Should there be the case that some teams decide that WTCR doesn’t fit the profile they want to be racing with next year, there is another alternative for them to race Internationally and still receive the same levels of competition and coverage as they did with the TCR International Series.

The 2018 TCR Europe Series.

Being run by WSC and maintaining the same live coverage on Motorsport TV and YouTube as well as offering much reduced entry fees, this presents a fallback option for those that cannot commit to a full season of WTCR with a two car team.

Already though, some teams are looking at the option of running simultaneous programmes in both WTCR and TCR Europe (Comtoyou Racing being one of the interested parties in running dual programmes). So this is a simple win-win situation for all teams involved with TCR machinery that wish to race on a larger stage, outside of Domestic TCR Series.

The Guru’s Thoughts on FIA WTCR…

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So, I’ve outlined in this very long post (apologies for that, there’s a lot of detail around WTCR) what we know so far about what will be the 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR). I would normally throw in a section that explains what we don’t know…but there’s not a lot that’s been left out here for me to point out.

Now before we go further please let me make something clear: This is not a post that’s bashing or demeaning WTCR for 2018. I’m not here to do that. I’m merely presenting the facts to the interested parties and fans out there in tintop land who want to know whats happening. WSC, Eurosport Events and the FIA have been very clear on how things will proceed.

But I’m going to make one point clear that is repeated in the facts presented by all three parties when explaining about what WTCR will look like:

TCR International Series Buriram, Thailand 01 - 03 September 201

There has been a lot sacrificed by WSC. Events have not been retained from the TCR International Series Calendar and you could also argue that to make up for the lack of Manufacturer entries, the entry fee has seen an increase that former TCR entrants will need to locate extra budget for. To add further, the argument could be made that to keep a World Series in place for Touring Cars, TCR regulations were the only way forward and the only bargaining chip that Lotti held during talks that led to the creation of WTCR.

However, consider that we now have a World Cup that’s focused for the next two seasons on TCR regulated cars being driven by the best Touring Car drivers in the world. With Live Television coverage around the world (fingers crossed).

That sounds bloody awesome to me!

I see a win-win situation here for one man: Marcello Lotti, the father of TCR Regulations, the former Championship Principal of the FIA World Touring Car Championship who was in charge at a time when WTCC rivalled the likes of BTCC, DTM and V8 Supercars. This is the biggest advert yet that Lotti’s formula for Touring Cars works and this will only encourage other countries to look towards TCR as a possible national series in the future.

TCR International Series Buriram, Thailand 01 - 03 September 201

Lets also not forget that whilst WTCR is in place for 2018 and 2019, this gives Eurosport Events Ltd and the FIA two years to produce a new set of regulations that work to encourage back Manufacturer teams for a potential resurrection of WTCC in 2020…

But consider another option, one that’s already been raised which could happen. What if in 2020, the WTCC returns to accommodate Manufacturer teams that run TCR cars in a World Championship? A scary thought but one that could happen and a thought that should be kept in mind as we witness the success of what could be WTCR over the next two years… We’ll all be watching the racing with as much interest an excitement as we’ll be waiting for the details of the next set of regulations for the 2020 WTCC season.

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

Please note that all images in this blog post are used courtesy of WSC/TCR International Series and Eurosport Events/FIA WTCC/FIA.

All excerpts/comments from Francois Ribeiro and Marcello Lotti have been used from material published by both the FIA/Eurosport Events and TouringCarTimes.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

TCR in 2018: Pick a Calendar! Any Calendar!!

Its said that Christmas is the season of Goodwill and Giving…

Well, as a TCR Fan, I can happily say that over the last few days there has been a lot of giving with three TCR related calendars being confirmed for 2018!!

We finally had the announcement just before Christmas of a provisional 2018 Calendar for the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR). The day before saw the revision of the 2018 TCR Middle East Series Calendar as it dropped from four events to three. Finally two days before saw the revision of the 2018 TCR Europe Series Calendar as it joins forces with the TCR BeNeLux Series.

So this post will put all of these dates for your diary in one place for easy reading and understanding!

The 2018 TCR Middle East Series Calendar…

2017-2017 Bahrain Race 2---Start_1

The TCR promoter WSC has finalized the calendar for the 2018 TCR Middle East series that will now be contested over three racing weekends instead of the four included in the previously released schedule.

The original opening event on January 5th and 6th has been dropped due to logistics reasons and so the season will now begin on January 18th and 19th at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

2017-2017 Abu Dhabi Race 1---8 Luca Engstler_7

The Dubai Autodrome will host the second event one week later, while the series will end at the Bahrain International Circuit at the end of February.

TCR competitors will race on the 3.1Km North Track in Abu Dhabi, the 4.3Km Dubai International Circuit and the 2.6Km Oasis Track in Bahrain. British driver Josh Files is the reigning TCR Middle East Champion.

2018 TCR Middle East calendar

18 – 19 January: Abu Dhabi
25 – 26 January: Dubai
23 – 24 February: Bahrain

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The 2018 TCR Europe / TCR BeNeLux Joint Series Calendar…

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---Race 1 grid

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.

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

Paulo Ferreira, the promoter of the TCR Europe Series, commented: “We are delighted to welcome the competitors of TCR Benelux. Together we will be able to make both series grow up quicker and better. The Belgian and Dutch drivers have already proved how good they are in Touring Cars and the confrontation between them and their colleagues in TCR Europe will produce some fantastic races.”

Xavier Schene, General Director of RACB Sport added: “To race together with TCR Europe in our five events will provide the TCR Benelux competitors with the opportunity of being part of an impressive grid, while racing for their own classification at the same time. The teams and drivers are all enthusiastic about this significant evolution.”

Hans Hugenholtz, Vice President of KNAF echoed: “The great benefit for the TCR Benelux competitors is that they will also score points for TCR Europe. As a result, why not compete for both titles? We are also delighted to see that the calendar includes two of the best Dutch racing events. This is important for our teams and drivers who have invested in TCR in the last two years.”

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French driver Aurelien Comte is the reigning TCR Europe Drivers Champion whilst Target Competition are the reigning TCR Europe Teams Champions. Belgian driver Benjamin Lessennes is the reigning TCR BeNeLux Drivers Champion whilst Boutsen Ginion Racing are the reigning TCR BeNeLux Teams Champions.

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

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The 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) Calendar…

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

The all-new FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) is set to visit 10 race tracks across four continents in 2018 following publication of the provisional schedule.

Subject to FIA World Motor Sport Council and national motorsport federation (ASN) approval, the inaugural WTCR calendar will open at the semi-permanent Circuit Moulay El Hassan in Marrakech, Morocco (7-8 April) and close at the Circuito da Guia in Macau (15-18 November), ranked as the world’s most challenging street course and a touring car venue for more than half a century.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Other highlights include races at the Hungaroring near Budapest, the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany and on the streets of Vila Real in Portugal. Termas de Río Hondo will become Argentina’s home of WTCR in early August, while the series heads to the Ningbo International Speedpark in China (29-30 September).

Zandvoort in The Netherlands hosts its first FIA world touring car event since 2007. Suzuka has been chosen as the venue of Japan’s round of the WTCR together with the Super Formula finale.

TCR International Series Spa - Francorchamps 04 - 06 May 2017

An extra event is due to be added to bring the 2018 WTCR schedule to 10 weekends, subject to FIA World Motor Sport Council and ASN approval. It will take place on either 21-22 July or 6-7 October depending on the outcome of ongoing discussions with two parties.

Each WTCR event will feature three races and the provisional calendar for 2018, which remains subject to FIA World Motor Sport Council and ASN ratification, appears below:

2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) Calendar

7-8 April: Marrakech (Morocco)
28-29 April: Hungaroring (Hungary)
10-12 May: Nürburgring Nordschleife (Germany) 
19-21 May: Zandvoort (Netherlands)
23-24 June: Vila Real (Portugal)
4-5 August: Termas de Río Hondo (Argentina) 
29-30 September: Ningbo (China)
27-28 October: Suzuka (Japan)
15-18 November: Macau (Macau)

An additional event will be added on either 21-22 July or 6-7 October subject to approval

François Ribeiro (Head of Eurosport Events, WTCR promoter):

“Publication of the provisional schedule marks another important step ahead of the inaugural FIA WTCR season in 2018. The nine selected events will not only offer a great variety of circuits to drivers and teams, but will also mean that WTCR races take place in front of big crowds.”

“We are in discussions with two potential locations, which Eurosport Events has not worked with before, to select one additional event for FIA WTCR
schedule, and we hope to conclude these as soon as possible.”

The Guru’s Thoughts on the Calendars…

TCR International Series Georgia, Rustavi 30 March - 2 April 201

So, now that we have some calendars announced (but not all of them confirmed yet…) there are several things that I wanted to point out.

1. I love the fact that Zandvoort is included in all three WTCR/TCR Europe/TCR BeNeLux calendars. Personally I think that this particular weekend should be billed as some sort of “TCR Super Weekend” with TCR Europe & TCR Benelux on the same weekend.

Motorsports / TCR, 6. Event 2016, Zandvoort, NL

This will be a great weekend that will showcase the success of the TCR regulations with three different series in action. This means that Zandvoort will effectively house almost all of the best talent we have seen behind the wheel of TCR machinery since its creation in 2015. Its a fantastic time to be a TCR fan isn’t it?

2. Both of the legendary circuits Macau & Nurburgring have been retained in the WTCR Calendar. Well I’m sold. I am a massive fan of both of these circuits and I feel that these will present some of the biggest challenges to the 26 car field in 2018. Seeing the likes of (hopefully) Comini, Oriola, Huff, Homola etc racing around the Nurburgring as the headline TCR act during a weekend that will also see TCR action in the Nurburgring VLN 24 Hours event is brilliant. Looking forward to that one!

AUTO - WTCC NURBURGING 2017

Now we’ve already had the TCR International Series compete at Macau in both 2015 and 2016. However after two years of action there was a disagreement between WSC and the Macau GP committee due to the organisers having opened up the rules to allow in 2 litre turbocharged Touring Cars that weren’t restricted to TCR regs.

This means that anyone could enter a car from the British Touring Car Championship, Chinese Touring Car Championship, FIA European Touring Car Cup or other series that used regs that included 2 litre turbocharged tintops. However it seems that this dispute has been resolved and thanks to whatever has been agreed, we are at least guaranteed the sight of TCR cars racing at Macau for the next two years.

WTCC Macau

3. Personally I get the feeling that during negotiations for Eurosport Events to use TCR regulations in a World Series, that using the WTCC Calendar was part of the agreement. If you take a look at the 2017 TCR International Series calendar, there are not many venues that have made the transition onto the WTCR calendar here from 2017.

For example, the following 2017 TCR International Series circuits are missing from the 2018 Calendar:

Rustavi, Georgia
Sahkir, Bahrain
Spa, Belgium
Monza, Italy
Salzburgring, Austria
Oschersleben, Germany
Buriram, Thailand,
Zhejiang, China
Dubai, UAE.

The following 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship circuits are missing from the 2018 Calendar:

Monza, Italy
Losail, Qatar

It makes you wonder doesn’t it…

Its almost as if to keep an FIA World Series event for Touring cars active in 2018 the only thing needed were some stable regulations loaned from WSC, whilst Eurosport Events Ltd would carry on with everything regardless. All this and there is the confirmation that the TCR International Series will be suspended until 2020.

Interesting…

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017

Despite these decisions having been made, the one thing that everyone wanted for WTCR was a calendar and we now have a provisional one. Since the news was released, there has already been updates from the likes of Comtoyou Racing and Craft-Bamboo Racing that they are looking to get programmes ready for 2018.

There is also the promise of a tenth location being added to the calendar that Eurosport Events Ltd has not worked with before. This could be a number of tracks that has seen TCR action and not WTCC action but I look forward to seeing what the tenth one will be, remaining hopeful that this will be a former TCR International Series location.

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.

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Please note that all images in this blog post are used courtesy of WSC/TCR International Series/TCR Benelux/TCR Europe/TCR Middle East and Eurosport Events/FIA WTCC

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

The Volkswagen Challenge…

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

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.

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

Comte Surprised Them All…

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

 

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

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

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!!!

2017 TCR International Series in China: The Guru’s Thoughts…

So I’m trying something new with the blog after recent positive feedback where I share my own thoughts about recent activities and talking points that have taken risen during a TCR International Series event.

I started this already during my earlier post and will continue to expand on those subjects and others…

Remember that these are my own thoughts about the weekend and as you well know, everyone is entitles to their own thoughts about the racing…

You were warned…

The Oriola Two-Step…

I have to say that as a fan, follower and blogger of the TCR International Series, that I disagreed with the lack of stewards decisions made in light of some of the overtaking that took place at Zhejiang and the after results of said overtakes.

I agree that Touring Car Racing always has contact and always will do, however the manner that Pepe Oriola was demoted on lap 12 during Race One was in my opinion, punishable. Vernay clearly used the “Nudge” technique to assist his pass on Oriola and this saw the Spaniard run off the road on the Start/Finish straight.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Oriola quite rightly moved over to defend his position from Morbidelli on the run to the first turn, however contact again ensued and Oriola into a slid going into the first turn. The fact there was no further action taken sets a precedent and one I think we will see more of in Dubai where the last two races of the year will take place.

To add to that, expect to see a lot of drivers going for glory in these last two races as they look to end their season on a high note.

Another example of poor overtaking was the determination of Rob Huff in race two. Whilst battling for position at the top of the circuit, Huff made contact with David Kajaia and this saw the Alfa Romeo driver retire two corners later with a damaged right rear wheel. Huff then followed this up with a very elbows out pass on Morbidelli, which saw the Italian sideways and defending from Audi driver Vervisch.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Had this been a different tintop series (There’s plenty out there to choose from….) I’m pretty certain that there would have been a penalty given, however as this was Huffs last TCR race of the year, there’s also the “Going out in style” aspect to consider.

Like I said, I’m all for exciting passes but I’m also for fair passing as well that doesn’t see the other driver retire or lose out on several positions because of that contact and pass. That’s often causes fans to give their own opinion…

Oh…

The Hyundai’s are coming!!!

2017-2017 Zhejiang Friday---33 Alain Menu_27

The big news coming into the weekend were the Hyundai’s making their debut and I think you’ll agree that they have made their point. Whilst a lot of the development has been done with Gabriele Tarquini involved, adding Alain Menu to the driver lineup for the last two events was inspired.

Until the BoP was invoked for Race Two, both drivers had very good speed and pace and were able to showcase this in Race One very convincingly by moving forward very quickly from 13th and 14th on the grid respectively. Even with an extra 40kgs and 5% less horsepower imposed on them for the second race, Tarquini and Menu still powered their way forward to both finish inside the top six.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Whilst the KIA effort, the first new car to be entered earlier this season, has been backed by STARD and developed by Zengo Motorsport, the car didn’t light up the headlines when it debuted in Hungary. Whilst more development is underway for the KIA for 2018, the Hyundai came out with all guns blazing and despite some overheating issues and an oil issue, was able to hold its own even with BoP added to the car.

I for one expect to see quite a few of these out in action next year in both Domestic and the International series. I can already hear the phone of Andrea Adamo, Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager, ringing off the hook with Sales for 2018…

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

(Please don’t take my comments about the KIA as negative. A lot of hard work from Manfred Stohl’s outfit has gone in the car and you can bet there will be a big step in performance in 2018 with more cars expected in competition).

Those who lost out in China…

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I feel some of the drivers who suffered a bad weekend need a mention. I include Stefano Comini, Mato Homola amongst quite a few. Comini is in the title hunt and now looks increasingly as if he will have to concede his reign as Champion to rival Vernay, but you can bet the Swiss driver wont give up without a fight.

Comini has won the TCR International Title in both a SEAT and a VW, however the last third of the season seems to have gone against the Audi. But lets not forget, the RS3 LMS TCR is in its first season. Whilst the title will be difficult you can never count out Stefano Comini.

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You can be rest assured that whilst the Swiss driver now has an outside chance of retaining his title, Comini and Comtoyou Racing will be out to try and do the best that they can in Dubai. If the track layout is not a factor then both man and machine will be in the hunt for wins whilst Vernay and Tassi battle it out got the crown.

Denis Dupont made his TCR International Series debut at Zhejiang in a SEAT run by Comtoyou Racing with backing from the RACB. The Belgian driver has been a front runner in in the TCR Benelux Series and the step up seems to have been a logical one. With the Belgian outfit looking after his SEAT along with the two Audi’s, you could expect a good showing at his first attempt.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

However Dupont had what you could call a difficult start to his debut with SEAT Leon damaged in FP1 before repairs taking place to get the car out again for FP2. Dupont qualified a respectable 11th on his debut, having made it through from Q1 into Q2 and just missing out on the reverse pole position spot for Race Two. Unfortunately contact with Alain Menu at the start of Race One saw Dupont retire on the spot and the damage was as such that he wouldn’t be able to start Race Two.

Thankfully the Belgian driver will be back in action in Dubai where he will put the lessons learned in Zhejiang to good practice as he looks to go up against the best in TCR for a second weekend. You can expect him to be a little more robust when racing up against the Hyundai’s during both of the final race weekend as well as racing others hard whilst he stakes a claim for a full time ride in 2018.

As I’ve already made clear, I’m a big Vauxhall/Opel Touring car fan and it pains me to see Mato Homola and the DG Sport Competition suffering as they did again in China. The Opel Astra is the only full time entry in 2017 not to have taken a win but the fact that Homola has taken three pole positions says that the speed is there.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

However, the recent BoP adjustment that saw the Astra gain weight seemed to make little sense. I feel that this may have been put in place due to the recent wins of Harald Proczyk in the ADAC TCR Germany finale and also the fine performance of the Astra at the hands of Kissling Motorsport in the last two VLN endurance events.

I’m looking into clarification for this but I believe that the performances worldwide of a car can affect how the BoP is adjusted and I also believe that this includes Endurance events as well. Don’t forget that the TCR Classes are growing in Endurance racing and offering a competitive alternative to those who cant afford GT class machinery.

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Once I have clarification, I’ll update this post.

Homola again suffered engine issues during Qualifying and then a puncture during the first race, however whilst the decision to add weight to the Opel Astra TCR added to what was a difficult weekend, there is still hope for both driver and team.

Both the Sloviakian and DG Sport Competition have seen standout weekends and improved pace during the season and indeed since the cars debut back in Bahrain last year. They will be out to end the season on a high in Dubai and I suspect they will be in the hunt for glory once more.

Finally… TCR EUROPE TROPHY

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Before the series finale for the 2017 TCR International Series takes place, there is another major TCR title up for grabs and one I suggest you watch:

The 2017 TCR Europe Trophy.

The best of the Domestic European TCR series drivers will go up against each other to win the prestigious TCR Europe Trophy which takes place at the Adria International Raceway in Italy on 29th October. The format is different to the 2016 Trophy where a driver had to compete in up to seven different events across the European series.

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

Belgain driver Pierre Yves-Corthals took the win in the DG Sport Competition Opel Astra with Jordi Oriola often joining him in the second car. I for one would love to see the younger Oriola back in a competitve TCR car as he is bloody fast…

This years event is as close as you’ll get to seeing something similar to the Touring Car World Cup events that took place back in the middle 1990’s and I’m sure its going to be a fantastic event to witness. The chance in format for 2017 will see Practice, Qualifying and Race takes place over the same weekend, with the driver scoring the highest points being declared the winner.

Now take into account that drivers from any European TCR Series are eligible and with the recent change in rules that drivers who did took part in at least one TCR event during the 2017 season are eligible for the 2017 TCR European Trophy.

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

Add to this that drivers classified outside of the first ten positions of the 2017 TCR International Series, as per 30 September 2017, are eligible as well and you have what looks to be a phenomenal event ahead.

Consider that the best from such series as TCR Baltic, TCR Benelux, TCR Germany, TCR Ibérico, TCR Italy, TCR Portugal, TCR Russia, TCR Scandinavia, TCR Spain, 24h Series, 24H TCE Series, VLN and you have a stellar array of drivers and teams eligible.

Add in the following names who are also eligible…

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

And the biggest TCR event of the season gets even bigger.

2016-2016 Zandvoort---Qualifying Race start

This is not one to miss and will nicely fill the gap ahead of the TCR International Series finale. Having covered the TCR Middle East Series and the TCR International Series this year, TCR Europe Trophy will be another event covered by this blog before we head into what will be a very interesting winter for TCR in general with TCR UK starting in 2018.

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

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!