2018 TCR Europe Series: Spain…

With the TCR Season now over, here’s a reminder of how the last weekend of the 2018 TCR Europe Series finished.

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of all the action that took place at the Catalunya circuit, from Qualifying all the way through to Race One on Saturday and Race Two on Sunday…

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Catalunya:

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The final shootout at Circuit Catalunya

The TCR Europe Series’ season came to an end at Barcelona’s Circuit Catalunya, where Mikel Azcona looked to clinch the European crown on home soil.

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The young Spaniard and his PCR Sport Cupra held a 19-point leading margin in the standings over Leopard Lukoil Team’s Jean-Karl Vernay who was in great shape, having dominated the previous event in Monza and won Race One in the WTCR round at Wuhan at the wheel of his Audi RS3 LMS.

Dušan Borković (Target Competition Hyundai i30 N) was the third title contender, though he slipped down to third in the classification with a gap of 30 points.

With 55 points on offer at Barcelona, the Hungarian duo of Attila Tassi (Hell Energy Racing with KCMG Honda Civic FK7) and Dániel Nagy (M1RA Hyundai i30 N) were mathematically still in contention, but they are currently lying in fourth and fifth positions, 41 and 50 points off the leader respectively.

The event would also award the TCR Benelux Trophy which was led by Maxime Potty (Comtoyou Racing Volkswagen Gold GTI); the young Belgian was closely followed by Vernay and Danny Kroes (PCR Sport Cupra) with gaps of 4 and 6 points respectively.

Michelisz, Berthon and Halder lead a long list of guest stars

A long list of guest stars joined the TCR Europe field for the season finale at Barcelona.

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The group was led by the WTCR regulars Norbert Michelisz (M1RA Hyundai i30 N) and his fellow WTCR competitor Nathanaël Berthon (Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS).

ADAC TCR Germany title contender Mike Halder joined Hell Energy Racing with KCMG in a third Honda Civic FK7 and the reigning FIA European Touring Car champion Petr Fulín completed his 2018 programme in the Fulín Race Academy Cupra.

TCR Europe Barcelona, Spain 19 - 21 October 2018

Other newcomers were TCR Russia race winner Klim Gavrilov (LTA Rally Volkswagen Golf GTI) and the winner of the Campenato de España Resistencia’s latest round Enrique Hermando (Sports & You Peugeot 308).

Former BTCC champion and TCR UK double race winner Ashley Sutton joined the Swedish siblings Andreas and Jessica Bäckman who classified third and fourth in the TCR UK Series at WestCoast Racing and the 2017 European Hillclimbing champion Nikola Miljković (LEIN Racing Cupra) made his debut.

Tassi and Files secure a Honda front row for Race One in Qualifying

The Hell Energy Racing with KCMG duo of Attila Tassi and Josh Files monopolised the front row for Race One, the penultimate round of the TCR Europe Series at Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.

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Tassi set the fastest lap of 1:53.861 on his second attempt in Q2 and demoted to second his teammate Files who had clocked a provisional fastest lap of 1:53.902 in his first run. The gap between them was just 41 thousandths.

In the battle for the European crown, current points leader Mikel Azcona moved another small step closer to the title as he qualified in third position and scored three points against the two points awarded to Dušan Borković for the fourth place.

Azcona was not able to repeat his Q1 exploit and settled in third with a lap of 1:54.167, followed by Borković (1:54.186), while Norbert Michelisz (1:54.198) and Ashley Sutton (1:54.367) filled the third row of the grid for Race 1.

TCR Europe Barcelona, Spain 19 - 21 October 2018

The third title contender, Jean-Karl Vernay failed to make the cut for Q2 and ranked 13th; the Frenchman was kicked out of the top-twelve by Mike Halder and dropped behind Reece Barr by just 45 thousandths.

The second Audi car of Berthon was eliminated as well after sitting in the pits for most of the time due to a broken turbo pipe.

Peter Terting and Halder qualified tenth and ninth respectively and will share the front row of the reverse grid for Race Two.

Tassi wins as the title fight sees Azcona, Borković, Vernay and Tassi in a four-way battle

It was to be a four-way fight for the TCR Europe Series Drivers’ title, as the battle would be decided in Race Two.

TCR Europe Barcelona, Spain 19 - 21 October 2018

Mikel Azcona was still the leader of the pack, but Dušan Borković, Jean-Karl Vernay and Attila Tassi managed to keep themselves in contention with some remarkable exploits in Race One.

Tassi took an authoritative lights-to-flag victory, the second for him in the season, as he sprinted from pole position and bid farewell to the rest of the pack, while Files protected his back.

Borković knew he had to stay ahead of Azcona to keep his hopes alive and overtook him at the start; then put the pressure on Files until the Englishman’s pace faded because of a tyre issue, which promoted the Serbian to second.

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Vernay was able to recover from 13th on the grid despite driving the heaviest car of the pack and finished sixth; he also won the TCR Benelux Trophy.

As for Azcona, he gave away a couple of places in the final laps in order to avoid the lesser risk; an eighth place in Race 2 will be enough for him to be crowned champion.

The battle for the Teams’ title was even hotter, with Hell Energy Racing with KCMG leading Target Competition by just three points and the title to be decided in the final race of the year.

Azcona is the champion, as Mike Halder claims maiden race victory

Mission accomplished! At the end of a nearly spotless season in which Mikel Azcona asserted himself as a fast and consistent driver, the young Spaniard grabbed the TCR Europe Series title.

TCR Europe Barcelona, Spain 19 - 21 October 2018

An exploit that is even more impressive considering that both, the 22-year-old driver and the PCR Sport team were facing their maiden international season.

Azcona was entirely focused on the title and let the others fight for the positions. Eventually, he drove his Cupra safe to the end in eighth place, right behind Jean-Karl Vernay, the only title contender who survived and would finish runner-up in the standings.

The others – Dušan Borković and Attila Tassi – were eliminated during the first lap in a collision that was later investigated by the Stewards and considered as a normal racing incident.

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With the title fight being decided by the placing, other drivers had an opportunity to shine.

Series newcomers Mike Halder and Ashley Sutton proved they have a place amongst the top-runners in TCR Europe. Halder, a title contender in TCR Germany, had been hired by the Hell Energy Racing with KCMG to help the team clinching the Teams’ title, and he successfully performed his duty driving his Honda Civic to a lights-to-flag victory that was worth the points needed to clinch the title.

Sutton, a former BTCC champion and TCR UK race winner, conquered a well-deserved podium by finishing third, sandwiched between M1RA teammates Dániel Nagy and Norbert Michelisz.

Driver quotes after the second race

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Mike Halder (winner): “I am of course very happy with this first participation in TCR Europe. It was my first time with the team, with the Yokohama tyres and here at Barcelona, so I can only be very satisfied with the result in Race 2, where the package proved really competitive. Not bad, considering that after being bumped off by another car in Free Practice 2, our plan for the weekend was disrupted. Next year I really would like to be able to do a double programme, TCR Germany and TCR Europe.”

Dániel Nagy (second): “It was much harder than it would seem from the outside. I am happy with the performance and to finish the season like that. My tyres were gone quite early, because of the close fight with Sutton. When I eventually could pass him, I had to manage the tyres and still, I was able to reduce the gap from Halder. I think that with a couple more laps, I could have caught him.”

Ashley Sutton (third): “I’m obviously very satisfied with the experience. It was my first race out of the UK and in such a big circuit. It was a good weekend for me and I enjoyed TCR Europe a lot.”

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Mikel Azcona (TCR Europe champion): “It’s great, I am so happy of this title! I can’t realize I have conquered a great continental championship such as TCR Europe, against such big names of Touring Car racing. And being crowned here, in Spain, in front of all my people, it is just a dream come true. I really want to thank everybody in the team and at Cupra for making this possible.”

2018 TCR Benelux Series Champion: Jean-Karl Vernay!

Jean-Karl Vernay clinched the TCR Benelux Trophy in the Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS.

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The Frenchman had arrived in Barcelona with a two-point gap behind Comtoyou Racing’s Maxime Potty, but was able to overturn the situation with victories in both the Spanish races.

“A title is a title! We were unlucky this season, but we never gave up. I dedicate this crown to my team and all the partners that supported me like never before,” Vernay said.

Potty finished as runner-up in his Volkswagen Golf GTI, 17 points behind Vernay, and Julien Briché completed the Trophy’s podium in the JSB Compétition Peugeot 308.

TCR Europe Barcelona, Spain 19 - 21 October 2018

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who share 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.

All images are used courtesy of WSC / TCR Europe Touring Car Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

 

2018 TCR Europe Series: Spa-Francorchamps…

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of all the action that took place at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, from Qualifying all the way though to Race One on Saturday and Race Two on Sunday…

With the historic Belgian track holding TCR International Series races last year, a lot was expected from the TCR Europe Series and TCR BeNeLux Series competitors and we weren’t disappointed!

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Zandvoort:

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Vernay sets the pole position ahead of Potty

2018-2018 Spa Qualifying---2018 TCR Europe Spa, 69 Jean-Karl Vernay-88 Maxime Potty

Jean-Karl Vernay and Maxime Potty topped the Qualifying session in the morning. The French driver set the pace in both Q1 and Q2 and secured pole position for Race 1.

On his home racetrack, Potty claimed his best result so far, qualifying second; it was a similar story for Julien Briché, who was third fastest.

Championship co-leaders Mikel Azcona and Dušan Borković qualified in fourth and sixth respectively, with Stian Paulsen splitting them in fifth.

The best two Honda cars were Josh Files’ and Stefano Comini’s in seventh and eighth, meaning that cars from six different brands – Audi, Volkswagen, Peugeot, Cupra, Hyundai and Honda – filled the first seven positions.

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

Target Competition teammates Reece Barr and Kris Richard secured the front row on the reverse grid for Race 2.

Danny Kroes and Attila Tassi were the most disappointed. Kroes had several lap times disallowed for repeatedly infringing track limits in Q2, including a 2:29.978 that would have placed him fifth, while Tassi blamed himself for not going through to Q2, saying that he couldn’t quite get his braking points right.

The Q1 part of the session was disrupted by the red flag after only four minutes, when Viktor Davidovski went off at Raidillon and crashed heavily into the tyre wall.

Vernay claims his first victory as Potty and Azcona complete the podium

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

Jean-Karl Vernay has taken his maiden win in the TCR Europe. In a warm afternoon at Spa, the Frenchman of Leopard Lukoil Racing drove his Audi RS3 LMS to a lights-to-flag victory from pole position.

The only one who could resist his pace was local hero Maxime Potty (Comtoyou Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI), who took a first podium finish in the series.

With a solid race, Mikel Azcona (PCR Sport Cupra) took third and most importantly, became the new leader in the overall standings, 5 points clear of Dušan Borković who was classified fourth with a Target Competition Hyundai i30 N.

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

In the final laps, the Serbian had to defend fiercely his positions from the attacks of Julien Briché (JSB Compétition Peugeot 308), one of the drivers that put the show on the Belgian track.

Others, like Stefano Comini, Josh Files or Jens Reno Møller were less lucky and had to retire as a consequence of the tough battles. The Dane had a scary moment at the Raidillon after a contact with Attila Tassi, but luckily he managed to stop before crashing into the barriers.

Paulsen and Tassi receive penalties after Race 1

2018-2018 Spa Race 1---2018 TCR Europe Spa R1, 9 Attila Tassi-11 Jens Reno Moller_1

Stien Paulsen and Attila Tassi were both given a 30-second time penalty after today’s Race 1 in Spa-Francorchamps.

Paulsen was dropped from sixth to 14th as he was considered guilty for having caused the incident in second lap of the race that forced Reece Barr to retire.

As for Tassi, he was punished for sending Jens-Reno Møller into a dangerous high-speed spin at the Raidillon while they were fighting for the 11th position on lap 9; this meant that Tassi was demoted from 11th to 17th.

Briché inherits win as Richard gets penalty whilst Azcona increases his Championship lead

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

Julien Briché has joined the club of 2018 TCR Europe race winners thanks to a decision of the Stewards that imposed a time penalty to Kris Richard who had been the first under the chequered flag in a closely-fought Race 2 at Spa-Francorchamps.

Investigating on the contact Richard and Briché had had while they were fighting for the lead, the Steward inflicted a penalty of one second to the Swiss that was enough to swap the positions, demoting Richard to second, three tenth behind Briché.

The incident happened at Les Combes during the penultimate lap; Briché tried to overtake Richard at the braking, using the outside line, but as the two cars collided he was forced to cut straight through the chicane, which helped the Swiss to maintain the lead and win with a margin of 0.7 seconds.

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

The penalty granted Briché, JSB Compétition and the Peugeot 308 their first victory in TCR Europe.

Richard had taken the lead during the first lap, but then had to work hard to defend the position, first from Josh Files (who was later stopped by an electrical problem) and then from Briché, who attacked relentlessly.

Local hero Maxime Potty visited the podium for a second time this weekend, taking third ahead of a very clever Mikel Azcona who further extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings, as Duśan Borković could finish no higher than 7th.

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

Jean-Karl Vernay was a victim of some fierce battling in the closing laps when he was fighting for a podium position, while the Honda cars endured a difficult Sunday; both Stefano Comini (before the start) and Josh Files (after the safety car period) were halted by electronic bugs and Attila Tassi was sidelined by a puncture.

Giovanni Altoè encored his yesterday’s win in the DSG Challenge, while Briché collected the TCR Benelux Trophy.

In the championship standings, Azcona has increased his tally to 95 points, 11 clear of Borković; Vernay lies third with a gap of 39 points, while Dániel Nagy is fourth a further two points adrift.

The series will resume at the Hungaroring in the first weekend of July.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

The TCR Europe Series weekend at Spa saw two great races take part for their own reasons, however Balance of Performance and driving standard were once again the talk of the town in a season that has provided close racing and several different winners so far.

When he is on point and the car is running faultessly, Jean-Karl Vernay is unstoppable, his performances in the TCR International Series over the last two years being evidence of that. Despite the fact that he is running a dual campaign in both TCR Europe and the FIA World Touring Car Cup, Vernay is getting to grips with the Audi fast.

As I pointed out earlier, BoP was a big talking point over the weekend as was the result of race two with Richards being moved back a place after what were seen as questionable defence standards.

 

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

So trust me when I say that a lot of this discussion took place in The Official TCR Talk Group where drivers and fans alike held constructive debates about the various examples of contact in both races and the situation regarding how BoP is applied.

Should it be series specific, or track specific instead of one overall governing balance that affects all models around the world? This is a subject that will go on and on…

Hungary is next up in July and with both Daniel Nagy and Attila Tassi having already raced there in the WTCR weekend, expect a lot from the Hungarians on home turf…

 

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who share 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.

All images are used courtesy of WSC / TCR Europe Touring Car Series

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

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017
The Hyundai i30 N TCR in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

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

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

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

Maximum Motorsport: SEAT Leon TCR

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

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

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

MellioSport: Audi RS3 LMS TCR

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

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

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

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

VFR Racing: 2018 Honda Civic TCR

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The Honda Civic FK8 TCR. Credit: TCR Series

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

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

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

The International Interest / Possibilities…

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

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

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

Craft-Bamboo Racing

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

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

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

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

Coleman explained in the interview that:

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

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

WestCoast Racing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bas Koeten Racing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Target Competition

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

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

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

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

Stefano Comini

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!!!

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

kevin Giacon (Opel Astra-TCR-TCR #15)
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 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!!!