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.

2018-2018 Barcelona Race 2---2018 Barcelona R2, start_1 (1)

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.

2018-2018 Barcelona Friday---2018_Barcelona, 223 Nathanael Berthon_39.jpg

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.

2018-2018 Barcelona Friday---2018_Barcelona, 62 Dusan Borkovic_1.jpg

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.

2018-2018 Barcelona Race 2---2018 Barcelona R2, 69 Jean-Karl Vernay_128.jpg

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: Italy…

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

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of all the action that took place at the legendary Monza 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 Monza:

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Monza Hosts the penultimate weekend of the 2018 season…

The battle for the 2018 TCR Europe Series title entered a crucial phase as the series arrived in Monza for the penultimate event of the season.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

Target Competition’s Dušan Borković led the standings in his Hyundai i30 N, but just two points clear of Mikel Azcona’s PCR Sport Cupra. Third, in the classification, twenty points off the leader was Dániel Nagy in the M1RA Hyundai; the young Hungarian trying to benefit from the duel between the Serbian and the Spaniard.

The fight promises to be red-hot because the 28-car field included some distinguished guest stars such as Fabrizio Giovanardi, Nicola Baldan and Salvatore Tavano.

Strategy and team orders played their parts, with Borković counting on his teammates Reece Barr and Kris Richard while Baldan and Tavano are due to support Nagy and Azcona respectively.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

In 2017, the TCR International Series event at Monza saw victories for Roberto Colciago (Honda Civic) and Stefano Comini (Audi RS3 LMS). The Swiss considers Monza as his home racetrack and will be aiming to score his maiden win of the season in the Autodis Racing-THX Honda Civic.

Other top runners to watch were Josh Files and Attila Tassi who also drive Honda cars for the Hell Energy Racing KCMG and Jean-Karl Vernay in the Leopard Lukoil Team-WRT Audi RS3 LMS.

Giovanardi ready to entertain the fans at Monza

Touring Car legend Fabrizio Giovanardi made his maiden appearance in the TCR Europe series at Monza, in a Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta run by Team Mulsanne.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

Michela Cerruti, Romeo Ferraris Operations Manager, commented: “I was thrilled by the idea of entering Fabrizio in the event. Having him at the wheel of one of our cars in our home event is something very special. I believe the track suits the Giulietta well as it was proved in last year’s TCR International Series.”

There are three European crowns in the long list of Touring Car titles won by Giovanardi who raced Alfa Romeo cars for most of his racing career.

“I’m enthusiastic about racing again at Monza in such a competitive series like TCR Europe. This is the opportunity to try and harvest the fruits of the hard work we have done throughout the season. The fans have always cheered for me here and this gives me great motivation. I promise to put in a show and entertain the spectators!” said Giovanardi.

Tavano to race in TCR Europe at Monza

Current TCR Italy points leader, Salvatore Tavano, made his maiden appearance in the TCR Europe series at Monza.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

Tavano drove the very same Cupra TCR he used in the Italian series, run by the Scuderia del Girasole team.

For the Sicilian driver, Monza also marked his comeback to international Touring Car competition, twelve years after his victory at Puebla in the 2006 World Touring Car Championship.

“It’s a great personal reward. I wish to thank Cupra Racing and SEAT Motorsport Italia for giving me this great opportunity. It won’t be an easy task, because we are newcomers in very competitive series, but I will do my best to put in a good show. We want to show off and do a good job for Cupra Racing, but with a sense of responsibility, because we don’t have to forget that our focus is on clinching the TCR Italy title two weeks later,” Tavano said.

Baldan joins M1RA for the Monza event

After making his debut with M1RA, one week previously at Vallelunga in TCR Italy, Nicola Baldan drove one of the team’s Hyundai i30 N cars in the TCR Europe Series at Monza.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

The reigning Italian champion, who came back to racing at Vallelunga after a long break for the consequences of an incident in which he broke his collarbone, teamed up with M1RA’s regular Dániel Nagy.

“Despite Vallelunga did not go the way we wanted, we are happy to continue with Nicola in TCR Europe. He is fast and with his experience at Monza he can give valuable contribution,” team principal Dávid Bári commented.

“The M1RA people helped me in Vallelunga, allowing me to be competitive despite I wasn’t at my hundred per cent yet. The level of the European series is so high, but I know I am in the right place at the right time. I can’t wait to seat back into my car to face this new challenge,” said Baldan.

Two Subaru cars in the Monza races

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

Two Top Run-built Subaru WRX STI TCR cars took part in the TCR Europe’s Monza event, with support from Race Republic.

One was run by NOS Racing and driven by double Abarth Trophy champion Cosimo Barberini, who was currently on his way for clinching a third consecutive title.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

Barberini’s previous experience with TCR cars dates back to last year, when he appeared in a few events of TCR Italy in a NOS Racing SEAT León and then drove a V-Action Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta in the TCR Germany finale at Hockenheim.

Roberto Russo drove the second Subaru entered by Top Run Motorsport itself. The only previous appearance of a Subaru in the series was at Le Castellet for the season’s opener when the Top Run Motorsport car was driven by Stefano Comini.

Argentine youngster debuts in TCR Europe

The TCR Europe Series welcomed its first South American driver, as Argentina’s José Manuel Sapag made his maiden appearance in the Monza event.

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The 22-year old from Buenos Aires, drove a Cupra run by the Spanish outfit Baporo Motorsport.

Sapag has already built himself a reputation in the Argentine TC2000 and Top Race series; he was currently fifth in the TC2000 at the wheel of a Citroën C4 and had the opportunity to drive a TCR racing car with success, winning the Alcañiz round of the Campeonato España Resistencia in a Baporo Motorsport Cupra.

“I’m very happy with this opportunity. TCR is an excellent platform for my apprenticeship as a Touring Car driver and to race at an historical circuit like Monza in a top level series fits perfectly within the sporting programme I am going through in Argentine Touring Cars,” Sapag commented.

Vernay set pole position in Qualifying

The Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS of Jean-Karl Vernay set pole position after going fastest in both stages of Qualifying. Vernay, in fact, was the only driver to beat the 1:58 barrier in both sessions, with Mikel Azcona also beating the benchmark in Q2 and so the PCR Sport Cupra lined up alongside Vernay on the grid.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

Scoring four Qualifying points, the Spaniard moved up to the top of the standings, two points clear of Dušan Borković.

Behind the pair, there were the two Hell Energy Racing with KCMG Honda Civic cars of Attila Tassi and Josh Files, with Row 3 of the grid consisting of the Comtoyou Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI of Maxime Potty and the Target Competition Hyundai i30 N of Borković.

Thanks to the reverse grid for Race 2, the Sports & You Peugeot 308 of Francisco Abreu started from pole on Sunday.

Daniel Nagy, the winner of Race 1 at Assen – and third place in the standings – failed to go through to Q2 and so started both races way behind his rivals for the title, while Vernay’s strong showing in Qualifying and both Free Practice sessions suggested that the reigning TCR International champion would move himself back into contention for the 2018 TCR Europe crown.

There were few problems during the two sessions, the Subaru WRX STI of Roberto Russo didn’t take part in Qualifying due to an administrative formality and Q1 was red-flagged when the sister car of Cosimo Barberini went off the track at the first Lesmo corner and had to be recovered.

Vernay claims an authoritative victory as Azcona increases his points lead

As it was expected following his dominating performance in Practice and Qualifying, Jean-Karl Vernay won the first of the TCR Europe races at Monza. The Frenchman was forced to chase Mikel Azcona during the first five laps after the young Spaniard had taken a better start.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

However after he managed to pass Azcona, Vernay had no further problems in controlling the race and claimed his second win of the season; as for his rival, he was quite happy to settle in a second position that helped him to stretch his leading margin in the standings to ten points over Dušan Borković who finished fifth behind Josh Files and Maxime Potty.

The victory also relaunched Vernay’s hopes in the title fight, in fact the Frenchman has moved up to third, 24 points behind the leader and ten over Dániel Nagy who retired after an incident on the opening lap.

As usual, Touring Car racing at Monza provided a lot of contacts and clashes. This race wasn’t an exception.

Driver quotes after the first race

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

Jean-Karl Vernay (1st): “It was good. We knew before coming here that we would be the guys to beat because we know that the Audi has a great top speed. We did a perfect job, the car was great and I knew I had to be as quick as possible, but it wasn’t easy. The Cupra guys are almost certain to win the (Teams’) championship because the car is quick everywhere and Azcona is doing a good job. It’s not going to be easy to take a lot of points from him this weekend but we’ll try to do the best we can. It made sense to go out alone rather than risk being in traffic and then maybe doing no laps. I think it was a good strategy and so I could focus on being quick in Sector 2. Let’s finish the job this afternoon!”

Mikel Azcona (2nd): “I am very happy, because we knew that the Audi of Jean-Karl Vernay would be very fast on the straights here in Monza. To be in second position, only three-tenths or something behind Vernay, is fantastic for us; to be on the front row of the grid is perfect for us. The best thing for me is that Borković is behind us, so we have to take advantage of that and not make any mistakes. I think I have a psychological advantage here because I know the track and I’ve been here a lot of times. I want to leave Monza as the championship leader and then I will be at my home track for the final fight for the title.”

Attila Tassi (3rd): “I have to give huge thanks to the team and to Josh (Files) in particular. Yesterday was hard for me but I got some really good data from Josh and I watched his onboard camera so that helped me a lot in my driving. I only had one lap remaining in Q1 because of the red flag and I was able to get P3 thanks to a tow from Josh. In Q2 he towed me again and although I made a slight mistake in Lesmo 1, I was able to stay in his slipstream and it was enough for P3 so I’m very happy. We’re going to discuss our tactics for the race now but the aim is to finish on the podium and collect as many points as we can.”

Vernay relaunches his hopes to become champion as The title fight goes down to the wire at Barcelona

Jean-Karl Vernay rounded off his perfect TCR Europe weekend at Monza with a second victory and pocketed the maximum score of 55 points over the two days.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

With these results, the Leopard Lukoil Team driver relaunched his hopes in the battle for the title. He moved to second in the standings, 19 points behind Mikel Azcona and 11 ahead of Dušan Borković.

The young Spaniard collected a valuable fifth place, but he was under investigations for a rough overtaking manoeuvre on Francisco Abreu that ended in a clash, sending the Portuguese into a slide. As for Borković, he retired with a puncture and was then excluded by the whole event for a fight in the paddock after the race.

Teammates Josh Files and Attila Tassi joined Vernay on the podium as they worked together to get the better of a very determined Maxime Potty in the final lap.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

Tassi was still in contention for the title fight, but had a massive gap of 41 points to recover; with 55 points on offer in the final event, mathematically Dániel Nagy was another contender, although his gap increased to 50 points after he remained scoreless in Monza.

Even Files, 55 points off the leader, has still a chance, but he needed more than a miracle…in fact, a meteorite to strike the other drivers would be exact…

Just like in Race One, the race was packed with incidents, the most serious one happened at the Ascari chicane where Benjamin Lessennes crashed into the barriers after colliding with Abreu. This cost the Portuguese a 30-second penalty that deprived him of a fifth place and sent the young Belgian to the hospital for medical checks with a suspected broken collarbone.

Driver quotes after the second race

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Jean-Karl Vernay (winner): “It’s really a perfect weekend. That’s what we wanted to relaunch our title bid and what we sought: a good qualifying and a double win. We knew the car was going to be competitive here, also because we were quite light in success ballast, and it performed perfectly, and the team did a perfect job. My start in Race 2 was much better than yesterday and after a few laps I could take the lead and then it was a matter of staying out of trouble, and there was quite some behind me. Now we go to Barcelona for the final battle, it is going to be very tough and we’ll carry success ballast, but we’ll give it all.”

Josh Files (second): “Again a good race and a lot of fighting, but everything went well for the team, which was our main objective. With a little bit more of top speed, we could have won, but it’s a great result. I had again a nice duel with Potty, but I saw an opportunity in the second chicane and it worked, although I was sideways at exit of the corner. In the closing laps, we did good team work with Attila and we could secure our podium finishes.”

Attila Tassi (third): “Although mathematically, both Josh and I still had chances for the Drivers’ championship ahead of Monza, the objective really was to score heavy points towards the Teams’ standings. We succeded in that, thanks also to the fact that Target wasn’t very successful. In the race, I had nice fights with Azcona and Terting, and then with Potty, whom I could pass with some help from Josh. In the final lap, it was really a close fight but I could defend both my position and Josh’s.”

Tassi and Altoè wins the Swiss and DSG Trophies

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 2018

Attila Tassi’s third place meant that he won the first edition of the TCR Swiss trophy that was awarded by counting the results from five events: three of TCR Europe (Zandvoort, Assen and Monza) and one each of TCR Italy (Imola) and TCR Germany (Red Bull Ring). Tassi scored 91 points, beating Azcona (81) and Vernay (74).

Giovanni Altoé, the only competitor in the DSG Trophy, needed only to finish the first race to win the title before the final event at Barcelona.

As for the Teams’ championship Target Competition has seen its advantage cut to seven points over Hell Energy Racing with KCMG, while PCR Sport and Leopard Lukoil Team are third and fourth, 43 and 56 points behind respectively, with 95 points still to be awarded in Spain.

The final event of the TCR Europe Series took place at Barcelona’s Circuit Catalunya on October 19/21.

TCR Europe Monza, Italia 21 - 23 September 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: The Netherlands

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

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of all the action that took place at the historic Assen TT 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 Assen:

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The TCR Europe Series resumes in The Netherlands

The TCR Europe Series resumed after a six-week break for rounds 9 and 10 at Assen’s TT Circuit as part of the Gamma Racing Day, a popular race meeting that also includes the FIM Sidecar World Championship, the CIK-FIA European Superkart Championship and the Dutch Supercar Challenge.

TCR Europe Assen 17 - 19 August 2018

Mikel Azcona and Dušan Borković arrived in the Netherlands as first and second in the standings, split by just one point. The young Spaniard and his PCR Sport Cupra topped the table with 112 points, while the Serbian driver scored 111 at the wheel of the Target Competition Hyundai i30 N. Dániel Nagy wass in third position with a gap of 25 points, with the aim of claiming his first win in the M1RA Hyundai.

Some other drivers who had the opportunity to relaunch their chances in the title fight, included Leopard Lukoil Team’s Jean-Karl Vernay and the Hell Energy Racing duo of Josh Files and Attila Tassi. The latter is was looking for a maiden race win just like Stefano Comini, Stian Paulsen, Kris Richard and homeboy Danny Kroes who teamed up with Azcona at PCR Sport.

Because of the combination between Balance of Performance and Compensation Weight, the Hyundai and Cupra were the heaviest cars in Assen, running at 1305 kg. The Audi RS3 LMS and Honda Civic Type R were ten kilos lighter (1295 kg), while the Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf GTI ran at 1285 and 1275 kg respectively.

The Assen races will also be awarded points for the TCR Benelux and TCR Swiss Trophies.

Files was fastest in Qualifying, but Vernay had the pole

Josh Files and his Hell Energy Racing Honda Civic set the fastest lap in Qualifying, however it was the Leopard Lukoil Team’s Audi RS3 LMS of Jean-Karl Vernay to win the pole position for Race One.

2018-2018 Assen Friday---2018 Assen, 99 Josh Files_43

In fact, the Briton was demoted to fourth due to a penalty that was the consequence of an incident occurred during the previous event at the Hungaroring.
Maxime Potty qualified his Comtoyou Racing’s Volkswagen Golf GTI in third position and started from the second spot, followed by the M1RA Hyundai of Dániel Nagy.

Track limit infringements had a crucial impact on the Qualifying results, as many drivers had their fastest laps disallowed and some others were reinstated after the Stewards reversed their own decisions.

Nagy (1:45.282), Duśan Borković (1:45.387) and Mikel Azcona (1:45.491) had been punished for trespassing the track limits in Q2. After listening to the drivers and reviewing the marshal reports, the Stewards of the Meeting cancelled the decisions. Nagy, who had set the fourth fastest time, started third because of the three-position grid penalty inflicted to Josh Files for an incident during the previous event at the Hungaroring that dropped him from first to fourth.

Borković, who had set the seventh fastest lap, was demoted by three positions down to tenth because he had received the same penalty as Files. Azcona started from seventh on the grid; he had posted the eighth-fastest lap but regained one position because of Borković’s penalty.

This also changed the reversed top-ten grid for Race 2 that would see Stian Paulsen on pole position and Julien Briché alongside him.

Dániel Nagy claims his maiden international victory
Dušan Borković retakes the lead in the standings

Dániel Nagy capitalised on a great overtaking manoeuvre at Jean-Karl Vernay’s expense to claim his maiden victory in TCR Europe, the second consecutive for the M1RA team.

TCR Europe Assen 17 - 19 August 2018

Dušan Borković delivered a thrilling performance, as he was able to recover and finish sixth, a result that helped him to retake the lead in the standings with a margin of five points over Mikel Azcona who is now on equal points with Nagy.

After setting the fastest lap in Qualifying and being dropped to fourth on the grid by a penalty, Josh Files took a brilliant start and chased the leading duo of Vernay and Nagy until he was pushed wide by Kris Richard; an incident that is currently under investigation.

TCR Europe Assen 17 - 19 August 2018

From that moment onwards, the pace of Files’ Honda faded and he dropped until finishing in tenth position at the end.

The second position meant that Vernay won the TCR Benelux race and climbed to fourth in the standings, 35 points behind Borković. Giovanni Altoè won the DSG Trophy in 18th position overall.

Driver quotes after the first race

TCR Europe Assen 17 - 19 August 2018

Dániel Nagy (winner): “I am really happy, as this is my first international race win. At last! I want to thank the M1RA team that has done a great job and gave me a perfect car. I took a good start and in lap 4, when I saw an opportunity to pass Vernay, I went for it. We had a fair battle and he was very fast, but I could keep the advantage. Now is time to celebrate a bit, but also to start thinking about the championship, because we are in a very good position in the standings.”

Jean-Karl Vernay (second): “It’s frustrating to lose a win that we should have claimed, but that’s racing. Everything went well in the initial laps, but then I was a little bit late at the braking into the first corner and Nagy passed. Given yesterday’s heavy repairs to the chassis, not everything was perfect in the car, especially in brake balance.  I was able to keep side-by-side with him and retake the lead, but then we arrived at turns 3 and 4 and there was gravel all over the tarmac and couldn’t keep the line. I am a little annoyed, as the points lost would have been very useful.”

Kris Richard (third): “I am quite happy with the result today. The car was good, we had a strong race pace, as always, and that goes to the team’s credit. I lost one position at the start, then gained it back at first corner to become fifth. Thanks to the good pace, I could catch and eventually pass the two Honda cars in front of me, and secure a nice podium.” 

Attila Tassi wins from the title contenders at Assen
Borković and Azcona are split by just two points

Attila Tassi became the eighth different race winner in the 2018 TCR Europe when he claimed his maiden victory in Assen’s Race 2.

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The young Hungarian and his Hell Energy Racing Honda Civic led for the whole distance and crossed the finishing line ahead of the title contenders Mikel Azcona (PCR Sport Cupra) and Dušan Borković (Target Competition Hyundai i30 N).

Because yesterday’s Race 1 winner M1RA’s Dániel Nagy retired due to a suspected engine failure, Borković and Azcona are on top of the standings, split by just two points: 134 to 132. However, Nagy is still in contention as he lies third, 20 points behind Borković; Tassi has moved up to fourth, with a gap of 39 points.

While Tassi and Azcona were able to pull away, Borković tried everything to steal third from a determined Stian Paulsen and eventually succeeded with a superb overtaking manoeuvre.

TCR Europe Assen 17 - 19 August 2018

In the final part of the race, behind the leading trio, Paulsen, Maxime Potty, Kris Richard and Stefano Comini put in a great show as they swapped positions several times; eventually it was a charging Comini who was classified fourth and first in TCR Benelux, just like in Race 1, proving that he can now compete for a race victory in the Autodis Racing-THX Honda.

Giovanni Altoè encored his victory in the DSG Trophy.

The penultimate event of TCR Europe takes place at Monza on 22/23 September.

Quotes from the second race podium

TCR Europe Assen 17 - 19 August 2018

Attila Tassi (winner): “My first win of the season, at last! It was more than one year that I was waiting for this, so I am very happy. This time, everything went very well, with no hiccups. The team gave me a perfect car, I really had a good pace. I took a good start and then I could pass Azcona after a short fight and keep the lead until the end. It’s really wonderful.”

Mikel Azcona (second): “I am very happy with second, it’s very good for the championship. In a difficult weekend like this, it’s well beyond my expectations. I had a good start and took the lead after passing Paulsen. Then Tassi was catching me, he had a faster pace and I couldn’t resist much. It didn’t make sense, as slowing him would have allowed the others to come back. I was even surprised I could stay close to Attila and close on him in the chicanes. For me, it’s a really good result.”

Dušan Borković (third): “It was a little crazy as a race for me… but, all in all, third is not bad. My start wasn’t very good, then I was fighting with my teammate Kris Richard, he hit me and I hit him back, it wasn’t very clever to have that kind of fight between the two of us.”

TCR Europe Assen 17 - 19 August 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: Hungary

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of all the 2018 TCR Europe Series action that took place at the Hungaroring circuit, from Qualifying all the way though to Race One on Saturday and Race Two on Sunday…

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Hungary:

The Parish Notes for Hungary…

The TCR Europe series resumed at Budapest’s Hungaroring for rounds 7 and 8 with PCR Sport’s Mikel Azcona as the current points leader. The young Spaniard looked to try and defend his 11-point margin ahead of Dušan Borković (Target Competition), while Jean-Karl Vernay (Leopard Lukoil Team WRT) has hopes to further reduce his gap of 39 points.

TCR Europe welcomed back Igor Stefanovski (Stefanovski Racing Team) who was forced to miss the previous race meeting at Spa for the consequences of his crash at Zandvoort, and return with the aim of showing their potential.

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The other two drivers supported by Autodis Racing, apart from Stefano Comini, swapped cars for the weekend in Hungary: Cedric Piro took over the Hyundai i30 N run by Piro Sport, while Loris Cencetti moved to the Honda Civic run by THX.

Two Hungarian teams also took part in the event alongside the regular M1RA with Nagy and Francisco Mora. Zengő Motorsport returned to the series with a Cupra TCR DSG for Ferenc Ficza whilst JLG Sport lodged an entry for former TCR International Series driver Mark Jedloczky also in a Cupra TCR.

Balance of Performance/Compensation Weight Update…

The combination of BoP and Compensation Weight listed the Audi RS3 LMS as the heaviest car (1315kg); the Cupra, Honda Civic and Hyundai cars are 50kg lighter, while the Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 308 are a further 10 and 40kg lighter respectively.

Azcona pips Tassi and Files in Qualifying

After being the last driver to make the cut for Q2, Mikel Azcona secured his first pole position of the year with a last gasp lap on the drying track.

A perfect strategy from PCR Sport meant that the young Spaniard waited until the final moments in Q2, when the racing line were dryer, to mount two slick tyres at the front and set the fastest lap of 2:05.652. Thus, he pipped Tassi (2:06.105) and Files (2:06.393) who seemed to have locked the front row of the grid for Race 1.

Target Competition drivers Dušan Borković and Reece Barr qualified fourth and fifth respectively, with the Irishman making up from a disappointing day of Practice and claiming his best Qualifying result so far.

TCR Europe Budapest, Hungary 06 July 2018

Zengő Motorsport’s TCR returnee Ferenc Ficza put in a brilliant effort to place his Cupra DSG in sixth position, ahead of his fellow countryman Dániel Nagy who had been fastest in Q1.

Francisco Abreu qualified eighth despite having his fastest lap disallowed for a track limit infringement, while Julien Briché and Francisco Mora rounded off the top ten and secured the front row on the reverse grid for Race 2 where Mora will be on pole.

It was a disappointing session for Kris Richard, who was the first to miss the cut for Q2 by 48 thousandths of a second only whilst Jean-Karl Vernay and Stefano Comini who were also eliminated after Q1.

The Frenchman had a quick lap disallowed for a track limit infringement, was called back to the pits by his team and rejoined when it was too late, while Comini’s car suffered from a gearbox issue.

Borković wins a thrilling race from Paulsen and Nagy whilst Azcona retains the points lead

Dušan Borković returned to victory in a very entertaining Race 1 at the Hungaroring, after a thrilling fight on a track that was humid and treacherous after the morning rain.

The Serbian driver at Target Competition, who had won the two races of the season-opener at Paul Ricard, collected his third victory at the wheel of his Hyundai i30 N. He chased the leading trio of Josh Files, Mikel Azcona and Attila Tassi during the first three laps, then chose the right moment to attack while his competitors were fighting.

After a contact between Files – who stopped with a puncture – and Azcona – who lost a few places, the battle continued with Tassi defending second from a charging Julien Briché. A contact ensued, which eliminated them both: Tassi in the gravel, Briché with a drive-through.

TCR Europe Budapest, Hungary 06 July 2018

This promoted Stian Paulsen to second and Azcona to third; while the Norwegian was happily flying towards his first podium, Azcona did not settle for third and attempted an overtaking manoeuvre. He found himself involved in the duel between Stefano Comini and Reece Barr and was lucky to escape the collision and finish fourth behind Dániel Nagy.

Thus he retained the championship lead, only one point clear of Borković.

Kris Richard, Jens Reno Møller (his best result of the season so far), Jean-Karl Vernay (TCR Benelux winner), Stefano Comini (who recovered from 22nd on the grid), Danny Kroes and Márk Jedlóczky (who scored his first point) rounded off the top-ten.

Marie Baus-Coppens won the DSG Trophy in 15th position overall.

Mora takes maiden victory from Nagy as M1RA claims 1-2 finish on its home racetrack

On a warm afternoon, the Hungaroring produced another lively race, which was won by Francisco Mora, at the wheel of the M1RA Hyundai i30 N. This was the maiden win for the Portuguese driver and M1RA, with Dániel Nagy providing the icing on the cake by securing a 1-2 finish for the Hungarian team.

Mora made a perfect use of the pole position on the reversed grid, having to fight in the early stages with the Peugeot 308 cars of his fellow countryman Francisco Abreu and Julien Briché; then he managed to maintain a safe leading gap ahead of local hero Nagy in the closing lap.

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Josh Files emerged from the tough battle to take the third spot on the podium, ahead of his teammate Attila Tassi, while Abreu was classified fifth – his best result so far – as he was able to keep at bay Reece Barr and Kris Richard.

The remaining points positions were filled by Stefano Comini – who recovered again from 22nd on the grid – series returnee Ferenc Ficza and Stian Paulsen.

In a race that saw both Mikel Azcona and Dušan Borković – first and second in the standings – out of the points, Nagy has closed the gap and is now a closer third, 25 points behind Azcona and 24 from Borković.

Borković and Files get grid penalty for next race

Both Dušan Borković and Josh Files will be dropped by three positions on the starting grid for the first race of TCR Europe’s next event at Assen.

The Target Competition driver was penalised for bumping into the back of Josh Files’ car during today’s second race at the Hungaroring.

Files was given a similar penalty for pushing wide Julien Briché during the very same race and overtaking him.

The TCR Europe series will resume at Assen TT Circuit on August 18/19.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

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The TCR Europe Series weekend in Hungary brought up on of the most talked about topics in Turing Car racing in general: Contact and the acceptable levels of it.

Now the fans and drivers love both closing racing and an acceptable level of contact on track, but there were several times in Hungary that the level of contact was pushed a bit too far. I reference the contact in race one between Tassi and Briche which led to Tassi being effectively nurfed off into the gravel and caused a safety car period.

Whilst the field went around behind the Safety Car, there was a message on screen for Briche to serve a Drive Through Penalty…which the French driver subsequently ignored! This resulted in a 30 second penalty added to the race results however, if Briche had not carried on the contact on the rear of Tassi’s Honda…that would have been avoided!

This is one example of the many example of contact that took place within both races but it also highlighted that the Stewards weren’t afraid to punish the drivers. After all we want to see good close racing but we also want it to be fair and there’s been a few occasions this year where it hasn’t been the case.

The series moves on to the fast Assen circuit in mid August and its one that’s going to test the drivers and also start to weed out those who will be racing for the title and those who will be after race wins…

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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 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 Guru Interview: Pierre Runic

I’ve been very lucky so far this year to speak with TCR Creator Marcello Lotti and several drivers from the TCR UK Touring Car Championship.

What a few of you may not know is that I’m also working with a driver who is looking to get into TCR Competition and working hard on his plans and budget to do so.

 

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018
The 2018 TCR Europe Series. Credit: WSC / TCR Europe Series

That driver is upcoming Swedish Motorsport talent Pierre Runic. Runic is a former Rotax Max Sportstil Cup Karting Champion who now is looking to take the next step in his career which is the move up to the TCR Series.

I recently had the chance to speak with Pierre to find out more about himself and his plans for making the step into TCR.

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Credit: Robin Kautto for RaceMedia.net.

First of all Pierre, can you tell me a bit more about yourself?

“I’m a dedicated engineer, a beloved son, but a humble yet fearless person who have an ambition in becoming a top international professional race driver. I am highly motivated, doing everything with 110% effort,” explained Runic.

“I can’t be satisfied unless I’m pleased with my performance and that’s why I’ve become the perfectionist I am today. I love motor racing, and there is no other explanation more than I enjoy the feeling when driving on the edge. The adrenalin kick I get out of it means the world to me. The moment I put the helmet on, everything feels right.”

What are your hobbies outside of racing?

“I am very active outside of Motorsport. I love swimming, climbing, workout and tackling obstacle courses in my spare time. Another hobby I enjoy is filming, taking pictures and editing and use it for social media,” said the Swedish driver.

But most importantly, I like to spend time with my family. I’ve grown up in a big family that values time with each other, and I appreciate that a lot.”

Pierre_Runic_Rome_Photographer
Credit: Robin Kautto for RaceMedia.net.

What motivates you personally?

“While I was attending school with dreams of becoming a racing-car driver my father gave me a good lesson to learn,” explained Pierre.

“He said ‘Nothing comes easy in life, if you want to continue racing, then you need to show me that you can improve in school.’ From that day, I’ve been motivated to improve myself in everything I do !”

Can you explain why do you have chosen TCR Series competition for the next stage of your racing career?

”After a successful karting career, I need to take the next step, and the next logical step for me is in TCR Series competition. It’s a very similar concept where you can race hard against drivers around the world on any given weekend in any country with so many series to choose from,” said Runic.

“For up and coming drivers like myself, it’s a great chance to get into Touring Car racing at the Domestic level, before aiming to move on Regional and International level TCR competition. Some of the best tin-top drivers in the world are racing in TCR machinery, and I want to be up there with them.”

Pierre_Audi_Tweet-1
Credit: RaceMedia.net

How did your association with RaceMedia begin?

“Niclas Johansson, The founder of RaceMedia and I have a long history that started at the beginning of my karting career. From time to time he worked with our kart racing team, 4WIN,” said the former Karting Champion.

“When he approached me many years later with this new venture regarding TCR Series Competition, I immediately like what I saw, and I signed up. The concept is a great way for a new driver to get a head start on the TCR-Platform and to reach out to many new potential sponsors.”

Explain the main advantages working with RaceMedia?

“The package I have with RaceMedia includes everything from connecting me with a team, research and validating sponsors to marketing, sales meetings, funding and finally a place on the grid in any of the TCR Series around the world,” explained Runic.

“All this is happening while I am still working as a full-time consulting engineer within the automotive sector.”

Bas Koeten SEAT TCR 2018
Credit: Bas Koeten Racing

How are your plans proceeding for gaining support in 2018?

“Raising funds is always the hard part of securing a drive, and the workload for everyone involved has taken longer than we expected. Especially for a new driver like me who has no previous experience in TCR.”

“However, this is a long-term project for us. Many of the partners we are speaking to are already working towards helping put the 2019 budget in place. It’s possible that we might even get on the grid for 2-3 races during this year. Fingers crossed!”

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Bas Koeten Racing Audi in the 2018 FIA WTCR. Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

RaceMedia have signed you up with Bas Koeten Racing for your TCR Series debut. Why do you think this is the best team for you?

“I know that Bas Koeten Racing is one of the best teams for me when I take the step up to touring car racing. They have a lot of experience in TCR Competition and compete in many different locations and series around the world.”

“Once I have the budget in place, I have been offered a shared drive in a couple of races in the 24H endurance series. With their vast experience and range of TCR machinery, I look forward to this opportunity.”

Finally, where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

”I see myself driving full time for one of the many TCR teams or even in the recently announced E-TCR series, collecting wins and podium places in one of the most competitive series around the world.”

You can also find this interview at the following link.

Pierre_Runic_Rome_No_Saint
Credit: Robin Kautto for RaceMedia.net.

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!!!

2018 TCR Europe Series: France…

For 2018, the TCR Europe Trophy has morphed into the TCR Europe Touring Car Series and features seven rounds, with the first taking place at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.

Here is the TCR Guru roundup of all the action that took place at the legendary F1 circuit, from Qualifying all the way though to Race One on Saturday and Race Two on Sunday…

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Paul Ricard:

2018 TCR Europe Entry List

Qualifying: Borkovic takes Pole Position by half-a-second…

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Dušan Borković claimed pole position in the morning’s Qualifying; at the wheel of his Target Competition Hyundai i30 N he was the first and only driver to break the 2:14 barrier, setting a fastest lap of 2:13.781 that gave him the pole position and was half-a-second faster than Mikel Azcona’s 2:14.225.

The young Spaniard prevented Dániel Nagy from making an-all Hyundai front row on the grid for Race 1. Stian Paulsen qualified his Cupra in fourth position, relegating Josh Files and Reece Barr to the third row, while Jean-Karl Vernay placed his Audi in seventh.
Jens Reno Møller (Honda) and Francisco Mora (Hyundai) will fill the front row on the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2.

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After setting the fastest lap in Q1, Igor Stefanovski was not able to repeat his performance in Q2 and qualified 11th after his fastest lap was disallowed.

The most disappointed drivers were Attila Tassi – who failed to advance to Q2 as he also had his fastest lap disallowed – and Stefano Comini who is struggling with his Subaru’s technical issues.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Borković said: “I first sat in the car and I had an interesting feeling, because I know the Hyundai is good and is different to cars I have driven before. It seems the car is perfect for my driving style, because I had to completely change my style last year for the Alfa.”

“The car was completely new and the mechanics said to do two laps slowly and then come in. After free practice, I thought about what I had to do to make a good lap so I drove carefully in Q1 and then in Q2 I relaxed and I could see the car was working well. I overdrove a little on my second lap, so I couldn’t improve, but I’m happy.”

Race One: Dušan Borković converts pole position to victory

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Dušan Borković emerged as the first race winner of the new TCR Europe series, which delivered an intense and closely fought inaugural race.

The Serbian driver of Target Competition had no problems in keeping the advantage of the pole position at the start and controlled the situation throughout the race at the wheel of his Hyundai i30 N.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

He managed to beat the other Hyundai car of M1RA driver Dániel Nagy and the PCR Sport Cupra of Mikel Azcona. While the leading trio had a relatively quiet afternoon, the battle was fierce and superb in a compact group of six cars that really put on a show for P4.

Eventually it was Josh Files (Hell Energy Racing Honda) who won that race-within-a-race thanks to a brilliant defensive drive, ahead of Reece Barr (Target Competition Hyundai), Jean-Karl Vernay (Leopard Lukoil Racing Audi), Igor Stefanovski (Hyundai) and Stian Paulsen (Cupra), with Kris Richard (Target Competition Hyundai) being the only member of the group to drop out of contention because of a contact.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Pit Lane Competizioni’s Giovanni Altoè was the only competitor in the DSG Challenge and was able to drive his Audi RS3 LMS safely to the finish in 18th position, as did Stefano Comini, 21st in the Subaru WRX STI of Race Republic.

Quotes after the first race at Paul Ricard

Dušan Borković (winner): “I was afraid before the start, because I had only made one practice start yesterday and it was not good. But this time it worked well. And then, I did not know how the car would perform over the long distance either, so I had no idea of how much I could push. Just to be safe I did not push to the maximum in the first half, but in the end I was afraid of a tyre failure. The car was understeering in the fast corners, but I managed to keep the advantage over Nagy who is such a quick driver. It’s a great feeling! I was on pole and won the race; the best way to begin the season!”

Dániel Nagy (second): “I’m very happy, with my second podium in a few days after Hungaroring. Here it was more difficult, because I did not know the track, but I was surprised by how quick we could go from the very start, when I was third in Practice 1. We started from there to work on the car and we have done a really good job. In the second part of the race I was trying to put pressure on Dušan, but I outbraked myself and lost contact. So in the last lap I was focused on securing the second place.”

Mikel Azcona (third): “I am very, very happy with this result! I was comfortable with the car from the very beginning and I always managed to be among the fastest drivers from the first practice and with every track conditions. We have worked very well and made a good set up; the car was easy to drive, fast and consistent. It’s a fantastic car!”

Race Two: Borković pips Vernay during the final lap

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Dušan Borković encored his Saturday race win thank to a perfect overtaking manoeuvre on Jean-Karl Vernay during the final lap of the second race at Le Castellet.

An intermittent rain began to fall just while the cars – all on slicks – reached the starting grid and intensified during the first laps, which resulted in a number of drivers spinning or running wide. In these tricky conditions two drivers were in a league of their own: Vernay and Stefano Comini.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

The Frenchman performed an impeccable drive and took the lead during the first lap; as for Comini he put in a great show at the wheel of his Subaru, elbowing his way through the field from 25th on the grid to fifth.

Proceedings were disrupted when Igor Stefanovski crashed heavily, prompting first the safety car and then the red flag.

Before action resumed, a few drivers, including Josh Files and Kris Richard elected to change to rain tyres; the bet didn’t pay off as the rain stopped and the racing lines began to dry. Vernay tried his best to maintain the lead, but couldn’t prevent Borković from passing on the final lap. Dániel Nagy finished on the podium once again, third, inches ahead of Francisco Mora.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Comini dropped to tenth with the consolation of the last spot into the points behind a group of survivors who filled the places between fifth and ninth: Mikel Azcona (third yesterday), Attila Tassi, Jens Reno Møller (who started from pole), Danny Kroes and Loris Cencetti.

With two victories in the opening event, Borković has already built a gap in the standings, scoring 55 points against Nagy’s 36, Azcona’s 29 and Vernay’s 26.

Quotes after the second race at Paul Ricard

Dušan Borković (winner): “While we had been waiting for the race to resume after the red flag, I was saying myself that I was happy with second place. However, as the track began to dry in the final laps I saw that I could make a move and try to overtake Vernay. On the straight his car was faster, but mine was better in cornering. I made a safe attempt and passed him. I wouldn’t have done this if I thought that there was the lesser risk to spoil our race. I’m super happy, it was a great weekend for myself, Target Competition, Hyundai and Serbia!”

Jean-Karl Vernay (second): “I have done all I could. Until the track was wet and slippery I was able to stay ahead, as the car was perfect. But when the racing lines began to dry I knew I had no chance. The Hyundai is far superior by now; I was able to keep Borković at bay until halfway through the final laps, but eventually I could not prevent him from passing me.”

Dániel Nagy (third): “It was a crazy race. Before the red flag the track was very tricky and we must be super focused to avoid mistakes. I drove well and was able to move up to third. After the red flag, I began putting the pressure on Borković, but I also had to defend myself from Mora, who was right behind me. In the end I settled with third, another podium, that put me second in the championship. An excellent start of the season.”

The TCR Europe Series’s second event will be held at Circuit Zandvoort, Netherlands, on 19-21 May.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

So, we’ve had the first round of the 2018 TCR Europe Touring Car Series and as far as I’m concerned, it was a cracker!!!

With 25 drivers taking part on one of the most iconic former F1 tracks over the weekend, the racing was close and also typical of what I enjoy in Touring Car racing: A little bit of contact here and there and some good overtaking action in changing conditions.

Whilst the weather conditions helped with the race two action, it’s still clear that having either a Hyundai, an Audi or a Honda is the best choice of TCR car right now but the CUPRA is now in the mix as well thanks to the BoP adjustment released on Friday.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Ideally I’m hoping that the Volkswagen Golf and the Peugeot will also soon be in the mix too, although seeing Comini drag the Subaru into the top ten in race two despite starting from the back was just brilliant. Vernay, Nagy, Comini, Borkovic, Azcona, Files and many more drivers I could name put on a great show this weekend.

What also made me happy was seeing the mix of former champions racing hard with experienced drivers and the youngsters who are in their first season of TCR Europe that gave no regard for the respect the rest of the drivers deserved and raced hard with them too. Without a doubt we are in for a great season of racing.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 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 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.

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

The 2018 TCR Europe Series…

So after a winter that has seen many changes in the TCR landscape, one of the last few TCR series gets underway this weekend: The 2018 TCR Europe Series.

As keen fans of TCR Europe will recall, the event has been a one of Cup event last season and before that, it was a series made up of different scoring rounds from different TCR Domestic Series in and around Europe.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

So whats changed for 2018? Well, instead of a one of event, we now have seven rounds that takes in some of the best and well known tracks in Europe. With the introduction of the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), TCR Europe now becomes the next level of TCR competition as a regional series for drivers looking to move up the ladder.

With the creation of WTCR for 2018, TCR Europe visits quite a few tracks that last year or in previous years have seen TCR action and often provided some great race and overtaking action. Something that TCR is well known for providing and something thats often missing in a lot of Touring Car Series.

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Calendar:

TCR Europe 2018 Calendar

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry:

So, with an expanded calendar, comes a 26 strong driver/team entry…and wow what a list of names we have looking to contest the series and become the 2018 Champion!

However with there being 25 cars and 26 drivers locked in for the 2018 WTCR Season (not sure how that meets the full 26 cars grid expected but anyway..) this has meant that there are drivers who were in either the TCR International Series or the former FIA European Touring Car Cup who will be front runners in this years series.

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Josh Files, Jean-Karl Vernay, Dusan Borkovic, Attilla Tassi, Kris Richard….oh and a certain two time TCR International Series Champion known as the fan favourite Stefano Comini to name a few!!!

Something that rings true with me about this years series is the fact that there a quite a few TCR Champions competing in TCR Europe this year, be they reigning champions or previous champions:

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Josh Files: Two time ADAC TCR Germany Champion and TCR Middle East Champion
Stefano Comini: Two Time TCR International Series Champion
Jean-Karl Vernay: Reigning TCR International Series Champion
Nicola Baldan: Reigning TCR Italy Champion
Francisco Mora: TCR Portugal Champion
Francisco Abreu: Reigning TCR Iberico
Kris Richard: 2016 FIA European Touring Car Cup Champion

These top drivers have made their way to becoming a Champion in either Domestic Series or Internationally and the idea of TCR is that drivers can make their way up the ladder from Domestic to Regional TCR Competition. I’d say its working quite nicely.

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Paul Ricard:

2018 TCR Europe Entry List

As you’ll agree, Paul Ricard is looking good already!

Talking of the Circuit, the drivers will be using the full layout. Fast, flowing and with penty of chicanes to use for overtaking. However a good grid position from Qualifying will make life a lot easier on racedays!

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This weekend, TCR action returns to both TCR TV on YouTube and also on Motorsport TV (In the UK). The essence of TCR’s success is online streaming and with TCR Europe being run by Marcello Lotti’s WSC company in 2018 (The same people that ran the TCR International Series) you can expect the same high quality service that fans have seen before the introductio of the Eurosport Evnts run WTCR.

Race One can be found here for Saturday: YouTube

Race Two can be found here for Sunday: YouTube

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Fans will recognise the lead commetator for TCR Europe as Mark James, the man who has done a lot of TCR International Series commentary and also has been working bhind the brand new TCR UK Series. Mark loves his TCR action and expect more excietment to test his skills as the drivers and teams go all out to get te best start they can in France at Paul Ricard

I’ll be using the TCR Guru blog to cover TCR Europe only in 2018, however I know that its going to be an amaing and exciting season ahead and one I recommend to anyone who enjoys their Touring Car racing and is looking for something new to enjoy or is a returning fan.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 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 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 TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started in 2018.

All images are used courtesy of WSC / TCR Europe 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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, that would be mine anyway…

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

The Brits from Abroad!!!

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

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

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

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

What the Guru Thinks…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

TCR UK Announces Broadcast Package for 2018 Season…

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

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

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

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

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

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

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!