TCR-Talk Preview: 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup heads to Vila Real

Well its been a while!!!

Did you miss me??? I’m glad you did!

TCR Talk previews this weekends action from the 2018 FIA WTCR Race of Portugal that’s due to take place with the first race on Saturday and the second and third races taking place on Sunday afternoon.

AUTO - WTCR ZANDVOORT 2018
Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

This weekend we are treated to the return of The 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) after the massive four day UBER TCR FESTIVAL that took place at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

The many crowds at the national holiday event also witnessed the TCR Europe Series, TCR Benelux Series and some guy called Max Verstappen who seemed quite popular for some strange reason, in action last month

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Credit: FIA

Apparently this Max bloke drives a single seater for a living. Sounds quite boring if you ask me…

Zandvoort also saw the WTCR Drivers Championship turned upside down thanks to some Balance of Performance changes that took place after the epic Nurburgring Nordschleife that saw Audi join Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen at the front of the field

The Drivers Championship…

AUTO - WTCR ZANDVOORT 2018
Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

The historic street circuit of Vila Real plays host to rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the season and also marks the halfway point for this highly competitive series. Yann Ehrlacher in the Munnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR leads the standings after a good points haul last time out.

Ehrlacher took the first race victory of the weekedn as the Hyundai’s suffered on the beach side circuit. Yvan Muller and Norbert Michelisz made contact (again!!) and the Audi’s and Peugeot’s proved to be absolute weapons in race trim.

Aurelien Comte gave the Peugeot 308 TCR its first win whilst Jean Karl Vernay took his secomd of the year. So what does this mean???

Well, the Championship looks a little like this:

Yann Ehrlacher 146 points
Yvan Muller 137 points
Rob Huff 130 points
Jean-Karl Vernay 121 points
Gabriele Tarquini 118 points
Thed Björk 112 points
Esteban Guerrieri 107 points
Norbert Michelisz 102 points
Frédéric Vervisch 65 points
Mehdi Bennani 65 points

Who will be on top after Race 3 on Sunday? We’ll know after Race 3 on Sunday!!!

The Balance Of Performance Returns…

AUTO - WTCR ZANDVOORT 2018
Credit: Jean Michel Le Meur / DPPI

Ah yes, this one never gets old or boring. The mere mention of these three words this year always sparks lively debate and it will do once again this weekend.

Last time out at Zandvoort, the Hyundai’s were lucky to qualify inside the top twenty after the BoP adjustment that came into place seeing the ride height increased and the engine power reduced from 100% to 97.5%. This led to cries from both Yvan Muller Racing and BRC Racing that they felt this wasn’t being applied properly.

However when you take into consideration that the Hyundai i30 N TCR has taken five wins out of twelve so far against three for Honda, two for Audi and one each both for Peugeot and Volkswagen, its clear to see why this happened.

For the recent TCR Europe Series weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, BoP saw a reduction in ride height for the Hyundai’s but leaving them at the same maximum power setting. The Portuguese venue will be another intriguing weekend if you’re a Hyundai driver. Expect more lively debate about this subject.

 

The Magnificent Eleven

 

AUTO - WTCR ZANDVOORT 2018
Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

Amazingly, eleven drivers out of the twenty seven entries have not raced on this circuit before so this weekend will be a steep learning curve for them.

When you look at the list of debutantes for the Vila Real event though, some of these drivers have a lot of experience in car setup which will come in handy on the tight, fast and dusty Portuguese layout:

Nathanaël Berthon, Aurélien Comte, Denis Dupont, Fabrizio Giovanardi, Mato Homola, Benjamin Lessennes, Gianni Morbidelli, Pepe Oriola, Gordon Shedden, Jean-Karl Vernay and Frédéric Vervisch will all be looking to tame the circuit whilst also getting their collective heads around the new concept of the Joker Lap.

The Safety Car is on standby!

AUTO - WTCR ZANDVOORT 2018
Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

So, you have one of the fastest, tightest street circuits in Europe, a hot and dusty track that attracts Motorsport fans by the thousands and a massive field of TCR Regulation cars ready to go hell for leather to get those vital points…

But its a street circuit…with a lot of cars being steered by some hot headed drivers with scores to settle or points to make. I expect three safety car appearances myself…

Also take into consideration that last year there were sixteen FIA WTCC TC1 entries competing, which is a lot less than this year might I add. This year sees twenty seven cars on track at the same time for three races, so don’t be surprised if the Safety car makes an appearance or two which could potentially wreck a vital Joker Lap strategy.

 

The Joker Lap Returns

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Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

Last year the FIA World Touring Car Championship made the move to improve its racing spectacle by introducing a Joker Lap at some of its events in the same fashion as the FIA World Rallycross Championship puts it to good use.

The Joker Lap has been confirmed to return for the three WTCR races and will surely shake up the field of twenty seven cars entered on the tight and fast street circuit. Whilst overtaking is possible, this option to make up places or lose places in each race offers a new aspect for the majority of the field.

The Wildcards…

Continuing the tradition that started out in Hungary earlier this year, the 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) has announced its two local wildcard drivers in the shape of Edgar Florindo and José Rodrigues.

Florindo is also experienced with TCR as he has driven in the TCR Portugal Series, having claimed eight consecutive podiums and two victories last season. The local driver will be out in a Veloso Motorsport run CUPRA TCR as he tackles the event on the World Stage for the first time.

TCR Portugal runner Edgar Florindo will compete in his first WTCR weekend at Vila Real. Credit: FIA WTCR

 

Rodrigues is already familiar with TCR machinery having raced a 2017 Honda Civic TCR in both Germany and Portugal. This year he is a full time entry in the TCR Italy Series with Target Competition who will be running his entry this weekend.

Meanwhile Rodrigues is taking this opportunity with both hands as he is already a part of Tiago Monteiro’s Skywalker Management company and is excited to race with the best in the business.

Jose Rodrigues returns to the Vila Real circuit after racing in last year’s ETCC rounds. Credit: FIA WTCR

 

 

SCHEDULE

*All times are given in Glorious British Summer Time!!!

SATURDAY 23RD JUNE:

Free Practice 1: 09:00-09:30
Free Practice 2: 11:00-11:30
Qualifying 1: 12:30-13:10
Race 1: 16:30

All on the FIA WTCR / Oscaro Facebook page or if your in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland or the USA, then these streams can be found on OSCARO.com

SUNDAY 24TH JUNE:

Qualifying 2: 09:30-10:30
Race 2: 15:45
Race 3: 17:10

All Sunday Sessions shown on Eurosport 2 HD/Eurosport 2/Eurosport Player (In the UK!)

The Circuit itself…

The Vila Real circuit, host to the fifth weekend of WTCR in 2018. Credit: FIA

 

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of the The Official TCR Talk 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 & Regional TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started this year.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

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

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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

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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

TCR International Series Spa - Francorchamps 04 - 06 May 2017
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 Guru at the 2018 Autosport International Show…

During my recent visit to the 2018 Autosport International Show in Birmingham, I was finally able to get up close to some amazing TCR machinery and I also had the chance to speak to Mark James, who is part of the TCR Media Team.

Whilst at #ASI18 I enjoyed having a closer look at several TCR cars which included the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic TCR, SEAT Leon TCR, Opel Astra TCR. I have to say that having watched the TCR International Series on TV/Online for the past three seasons it was eye-opening to see these cars up close as I did.

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I have to say, first of all that the cars are bigger than they on TV. Obviously!

I was very impressed with the various cars, the technology used in them and also the various bodykits that have been developed by the Manufacturers to get every last piece of aero possible…and the fact that they all seem very similar as well.

Being a life long Vauxhall Touring Car fan, I have to say that the Japo Motorsport Astra was my favourite car to visit, however both the SWR Honda Civic and the Motorbase VW Golf are tied for second as they are both good looking cars. Apparently there were seven cars at the show so I seemed to have missed one somewhere…

Interview with Mark James…

Whilst at the 2018 Autosport International Show in Birmingham, I had the chance to speak to Mark James, who is part of the TCR Media Team and has commentated on the TCR International Series as well as working in the Pits/Paddock. I asked Mark about his thoughts on recent developments in the world of TCR.

How excited are you about the first season of TCR UK Series which starts in March?

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“So I have two answers for this question, First, Professionally: I think its great, with the UK being a very big and important Marketplace for Motorsport and its also a very big marketplace for many of the brands that you have in TCR. The fact that the likes of Audi, SEAT, Volkswagen and Hyundai to name a few are interested is great and its also the fact that the cars look very similar to what you see on the road every day.”

“As well as this the UK has a long history of Touring Car racing with the BTCC celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year as an example.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

“Secondly, Personally: I’m a Brit! I grew up spectating on the BTCC and working in Motorsport so I’m delighted to see a TCR Series come to the UK. However that said, it was never a priority 4 years ago to have a TCR Series in the UK. Marcello Lotti explained at the 2015 ASI that the priority was to bring TCR to countries that were struggling to establish a Touring Car Championship.”

“That’s definitely not the case in the UK and it was Jonathan Ashman (TCR UK Promoter and former FIA Touring Car President) who approached Marcello Lotti and explained that 2018 was the right year to have a TCR UK Series. Judging by the reaction and interest we’ve had, he was spot on with that thinking.”

There seems to be a lot of disagreement about where TCR UK fits in the UK Motorsport hierarchy, where would you say many should see this series in that hierarchy?

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“Quite simply we are a level below the BTCC. The TCR regulations fit in nicely under the NGTC regulations but are also an ideal next step for those drivers and teams who have competed in single make tintop categories as well.”

“We are in no way a threat to the BTCC, in effect we are a feeder series for it with budgets that are lower than its costs to run tin the BTCC. The cars are cheaper and slightly slower but this does allow for exciting racing.”

Are there any plans in place for TV Coverage and or Online Streaming for the TCR UK Series this year? TCR Racing is well known for its Online Streaming which has set it out from other Touring Car series around the world.

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“From the very first meeting I had with Jonathan Ashman last year in Monza, we’ve always said that the number one priority for this series is to have Live Streaming. It’s worked so well for TCR that its built the awareness for the various series around the world from zero to being an expectation of any TCR Series that Live Streaming is in place.”

“For example I can sit at home and watch TCR Russia, TCR Scandinavia, TCR China, TCR Asia or any number of TCR series. These series are being streamed either through the TCR Portal or on any number of Social Media Streaming sites such as YouTube or Facebook Live. In contrast to that, where Series have not embraced this type of coverage, there has been a negative response from fans and the like.”

With this in mind, have you been approached by interested parties to show TCR UK coverage online or on TV?

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“Fans expect to be able to have access to TCR Racing whether its online or through a Free to air TV Channel, but they also expect to have Free Access to the racing and that’s where the TCR UK Series wants to be as well. TCR UK will have the likes of Facebook, YouTube etc and we also talking about having TV Coverage in place as well. We have been approached by several interested parties who want to offer both Live coverage and Highlights coverage.”

“With the Tyre Partner announcement and the Suspension Partner announcement made at ASI, the last part of the jigsaw is the Coverage and this is the highest priority for myself as part of the TCR UK Series.”

Since the announcement of the creation of the TCR UK Series, what has been your reaction as a part of the WSC/TCR Team to the opinions and reactions from fans/drivers/teams on Social Media?

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“Its been quite an interesting actually. I have worked as a journalist and a broadcaster for many years in my career which has covered series like the FIA World Rally Championship and the FIA World Touring Car Championship and I’ve seen a lot as you might imagine.”

“However its been interesting to see the various reactions about the TCR UK Series since it was announced. I read on a Forum this week that the series was dead for example.”

(At this point Mark points towards the Motorbase VW Golf GTI TCR car parked on the BRSCC stand…)

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“Thats interesting news to myself and the organisers who are working so hard to get the final pieces in place as well as fielding the huge amount of interest we’ve had from drivers teams etc. We stand beside the Motorbase VW Golf GTI TCR car whcih is one of seven TCR cars at the show, so to read things like that is quite alarming.”

“Most people have been quite welcoming of there being a TCR UK Series and this includes race fans in the UK who on the whole, have welcomed another race series to the UK. There are those who are staunch supporters of their favourite series and that their right to support that series.”

Mark then goes on to talk about how much interest was received about the TCR UK Series at the BRSCC Stand at the Autosport International Show with various enquiries about how to join and also where to watch the series.

TCR International Series Spa - Francorchamps 04 - 06 May 2017

“Generally speaking we have found that people have been very welcoming and very curious about the series. Certainly the conversation we have had at ASI with interested parties have been centred around how can they get involved and take part, where can they watch it, and its been a real eye opener.”

“As a series, we’ve decided that we won’t drip feed information about entries, however if the teams and drivers want to announce this themselves then that’s we’re happy to share and promote this news. The time for that is on Media Day on 6th March, having said that if Teams wish to contact us at TCR UK, we are happy to give an off the record account of whats happening but we won’t go public with any announcements until Media Day”

The recent change in the International Touring Car scene has seen the announcement that the TCR Europe Trophy has become a seven round series which is now TCR Europe Series and that the WTCC has changed to become the FIA World Touring Car Cup or WTCR. How do you feel that these changes will affect the TCR UK Series, if at all?

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“To be honest, all of the recent news could have an effect, however the teams that we have spoken with are very happy that they can use the cars in a business sense in more than one championship at the same time and that there are always other series that they can be raced in.”

“People are getting into TCR now because they realise that this type of car can be raced in more than one series, its not series specific machinery and it makes good business sense as you can make money with the car in almost all 12 months of the year.”

One of the benefits of having a TCR Regulation Touring car is that it can be raced anywhere in the world and there is a marketplace for them to end up racing anywhere with any team.

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

“So a TCR car can end up having several owners whilst staying in competition. A TCR Car obviously has a used value and several teams for this season have purchased used TCR Cars from different series. So the cars are already on their second owners and they have the option of selling on the car to another team who could look at TCR Racing when they have completed their programme or time with that car.”

“Its also good business sense not only to have a Used TCR Car market but also the fact that these cars can be used in over 30 different TCR Championships around the world and also in Endurance racing as well. The Dubai 24 hours is taking place as we speak and there are up to 15 TCR Cars taking part there.”

To help promote the TCR UK Series, you’ve had the recent Test day at Brands Hatch and a lot of exposure of on Social Media. With the Entry/Registration period open for Teams and drivers to apply, do you feel that there is anything more that can be done to grow the Brand and awareness of the TCR Brands in the UK?

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“I’ll be honest, TCR has grown so staggeringly fast, I’m not sure what more we can do that hasn’t already spoken for itself. For some context, I wrote the first ever TC3 Press Release announcing the creation of the regulations.”

“When Marcello Lotti announced the TCR concept, that there was going to be a pyramid system of national series that led to Regional series and then led to The International Series, that we were going to race on the F1 support bill at three venues., there was a lot of scepticism and disbelief that he could pull it off.”

TCR International Series Malaysia, Sepang 27 - 29 March 2015

“Yet our first two races were at Sepang in Malaysia and Shanghai in China on the F1 Support Bill. What that proved is, if Marcello Lotti says its going to happen, he delivers on making that goal a reality.”

“To back this up, we are in the fourth year of the regulations and we have around 30 TCR Series around the world. We have 14 Car Brands represented around the world with more to come and we have several more TCR Series that are taking shape that have yet to be announced so we’re not stopping the expansion.”

“We’re getting the message out there and people who understand racing are giving us a chance and seeing TCR racing as a part of the bigger picture within the Domestic and International Touring Car scene. Watch the racing and give us a chance to show off what a great product we have.”

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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, 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 Middle East Series / TCR Europe Series / ADAC TCR Germany Series / TCR UK / FIA WTCC / Eurosport Events / BTCC.net

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:

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

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.

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

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

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

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

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

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

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

2018 TCR Europe Series Calendar:

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

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 TCR Europe Series / TCR Benelux Series Calendar

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

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

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

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

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!