Darelle Wilson – My Road to the TCR UK Series: Part 4 – Looking forward to the new season!

Darelle Wilson competed in one of the most recognisable cars of the first ever season of the TCR UK Series, where he drove the family-run Vauxhall Astra TCR in its bright green livery.

Whilst preparations are underway to compete in the 2019 season, Wilson himself has opened up about how his journey to joining the TCR UK Series took place. The TCR Talk Blog will be sharing this journey on a regular basis.

In this final part of the story, the Vauxhall driver explains his overall performance in the second half of the first season of the TCR UK Series as well as what he learned about the car after the season ended and his future.

Rounds 4 and 5: Castle Combe and Oulton Park

Castle Combe saw the team make some tough decisions. Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

After the team visited VMax Engineering in Germany, the constraints of running on a tight budget hit home as they had to make some tough decisions in the following weeks.

Darelle explains the situation further.

“After the expense of the visit to Germany we were short on funds and the decision was made to wait until qualifying at Castle Combe to put new tyres on. The car was running fine and we were only two tenths off the pace and looking forward to an improvement in qualifying,” explained Wilson.

“Unfortunately the tiniest brush with a tyre wall at the final chicane broke the steering rack and sent the car careering across the track, deep into the undergrowth where it hit a long-forgotten piece of armco. With no spare that was that for the weekend.”

With the team needing to repair the car, they realised that budget constraints meant that unless finances improved considerably, they wouldn’t make it to the end of the season.

With this in mind, the tough decision was made to not race at Oulton Park.

Round 6: Croft

Wilson returned to the TCR UK Series at Croft. Credit: BRSCC / TCR UK Series

The penultimate race weekend of the season took place at Croft in Yorkshire and the team returned to the series with a repaired car. However, they faced another challenging weekend.

When an issue on track caused the front splitter to break, the team were faced with trying to make repairs whilst they also looked to source a replacement at the same time. After struggling in Free Practice and Qualifying, a new splitter arrived for race day, offering hope of some improved performances.

Darelle takes the story from here:

“After a very good start in race one, disaster struck again. The smallest contact with another competitor caused the steering rack to break again,” he explained.

“We now knew that there was a weakness in the design from the car builders. This meant that we would make sure to carry a spare in future but again that was the end of our weekend.”

Round 7: Donington Park

Wilson’s performances at Donington Park offered a lot more promise at the end of the season. Credit: BRSCC / TCR UK Series

The final round of the series took place at Donington Park in Leicestershire in a weekend of changing conditions that would challenge the team as they looked to end the season on a high note.

With the car showing good pace during Free Practice and Qualifying as Darelle was posting times good enough to be in the top six, things seemed to be on the up. Despite the difficult conditions, Darelle felt good in the car and was ready to have a good end to the year.

Darelle explains how the season ended:

“As the grid for race one formed, the expectations in our garage were high. The start lights went out and…nothing! A drive shaft had snapped and our race was over after five yards,” Wilson explained.

“Despite being the only Astra in the paddock we could not find a spare although I have to give to credit off to the other TCR teams who offered all kinds of help and suggestions to help get us out on track for the final race.”

“Josh Crogan, a VW Cup competitor in one of our cars and part of our race crew, rang somebody he knew who could repair the part. By the time the part was back at the track, the grid for race two was already formed and it was lap three before we could get the Astra back on the ground. Unfortunately, the driveshaft failed again and we had to push the car back into the garage to record another retirement.”

Despite the many challenges and issues faced last year, Darelle ended the season in tenth place overall in the driver’s championship.

Darelle’s thoughts on last season…

Darelle is eager to return to the series and show what the car is capable of. Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Both Darelle and the team learned many lessons during the season which have given them great confidence for this year.

In November, they were present at the MotorSportDay event at Silverstone where they found a great improvement in the cars handling. Darelle summarises his thoughts from last year.

“Being the only Astra on the TCR UK grid was very difficult and we realised that if we’d have been using a Volkswagen Audi Group TCR car (Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR, CUPRA TCR or Audi RS3 LMS TCR) we could have raced at Castle Combe, Croft & Donington as the other teams could have helped us out,” he said.

“The lesson we learnt is to budget for the necessary spares package to keep in the running all year. As the teams using the Opel Astra in Germany where on a different brand of tyre they couldn’t offer much assistance so we had to plug away at the issues on our own.”

“This year, ADAC TCR Germany are also running on Yokohama’s so I am sure we will be in a position to share information with them to help out each other. What we do know is: the car is fast and I am a capable driver of getting so much more out of it!”

As Opel Astra driver Harald Procyzk won the 2018 ADA TCR Germany title, Darelle knows the car has race winning pace. Credit: ADAC Motorsport / Gruppe C Photography

Darelle has made it very clear that without the support from Martin Depper, Taylex Display & Exhibition and his other backers that it wouldn’t have been possible for him and the family to run the car in 2018. To everyone involved, he passes on his heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

My thanks to Darelle for sharing this journey with me and opening up on how difficult it can be to go racing in any series with a new car.

I will be keeping things up to date on here as well as in The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group where members will also be sharing their thoughts and any news from The 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), The 2019 TCR Europe Touring Car Series, The 2019 TCR UK Touring Car Championship and other Domestic & Regional TCR Series from around the world.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

Darelle Wilson – My Road to the TCR UK Series: Part 3 – Lets Go Racing!

Darelle Wilson competed in one of the most recognisable cars of the first ever season of the TCR UK Series, where he drove the family-run Vauxhall Astra TCR in its bright green livery.

Whilst preparations are underway to compete in the 2019 season, Wilson himself has opened up about how his journey to joining the TCR UK Series took place. The TCR Talk Blog will be sharing this journey on a regular basis.

In this third part of the story, the Vauxhall driver explains the experience he gained, the challenges he faced and his overall performance competing in the first season of the TCR UK Series.

Round 1: Silverstone

Darelle finally got his hands on the Vauxhall Astra TCR during the opening weekend of the TCR UK Series at Silverstone. Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

With the car having arrived at the circuit set up for a different tyre manufacturer (normally used in ADAC TCR Germany) Darelle and the team knew they had a difficult task ahead to get to grips with the car.

This issue wasn’t too apparent as he shook down the car in both the damp warm up & free practice sessions, however going into Qualifying the track conditions improved. Darelle suffered with the slick tyres & fell off the pace, eventually qualifying the Astra in seventh place on the grid.

Seventh in a grid of thirteen cars? Not a bad start to race day! Darelle explains his race performances below:

“In race one I made a good start and was feeling positive when I was hit from the rear and went off, getting stuck in the gravel trap. This wasn’t good as more than anything we needed track time with the car,” said Wilson

“Because of the DNF in the first race, we started race two from last on the grid, but we had a decent race where I managed to finish in seventh place. The engine was strong and brakes were good, but we needed to get to the bottom of the handling issue we were struggling with!”

Round 2: Knockhill

Darelle in action at Knockhill. Credit: BRSCC / TCR UK Series

The TCR UK Series moved to Knockhill for races three and four of the season where the competitors would race on the circuit in the reverse layout.

With the decision taken to run the car on used tyres in both the warm-up and free practice sessions in an attempt to save costs, this move ended up hindering Darelle. In Qualifying, the new tyres affected the cars handling and he ended up in eighth place for the race one grid.

Darelle explains his race performances below:

“On a greasy track the car came alive and I could easily race with the pack! However it was very difficult to make a clean overtake so I decided to play safe and settled for eighth place with a best lap two-tenths of a second slower than race winner Dan Lloyd,” explained the Vauxhall driver.

“At the start of race two, a couple of drivers ran wide so I was up to sixth place by the second corner. In what turned out to be a race of attrition for many others, I managed to cross the finish line in fourth place. Little did I know at the time that this would be my best result of the season!”

Round 3: Brands Hatch

Darelle struggled at Brands Hatch after a BoP adjustment.Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

The TCR UK Series moved on to Brands Hatch in Kent for races five and six of the season where the competitors would race on the well known and popular Indy circuit.

During the gap between Knockhill and Brands Hatch, there was an adjustment made to the Balance of Performance that’s used to keep all TCR cars as equal as possible, however, this had a negative effect on the Vauxhall Astra.

This meant that Darelle suffered on a circuit where he was expected to go well.

“It was a disaster! From free practice onwards, the car was lacking power. The shift light was telling me to change gear too early and the boost was coming in at all the wrong places on the track,” explained Darelle.

“None of the changes we tried made any difference and we struggled to get hold of Kissling Motorsport to see what support they could provide. We qualified thirteenth on the after struggling with the same  handling issue when the car was on new tyres.”

Race one would see Wilson finish in eleventh place whilst race two saw an improvement after he finished in sixth place. However, this was little reward as he finished over half a second off the pace of Lloyd on such a short lap.

Paying a visit to VMax Engineering…

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

After Brands Hatch, we decided to take the car to Germany and let Kissling Motorsport have a look to see what the issues were. Kissling Motorsport advised that we all meet up at their engine partners VMax Engineering based in Northern Germany

On arrival, the staff identified the problem almost straight away: The car had virtually no boost! Whilst Darelle and the team believed it to be an ECU problem it turned out to be an external component which controls the boost level.

As soon as this was rectified, the staff at VMax Engineering found a misfire at low revs which was caused by a problem in the wiring loom. With a used loom fitted to the car as they waited on a new one, Darelle and the team eventually left VMax Engineering with the car running fine.

Further issues with the Wiring Loom were encountered by the team as they used the Britcar event at Oulton Park as an extended test, however, Kissling Motorsport sent an engineer with new parts and the car was back to running at its best.

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Darelle has made it very clear that without the support from Martin Depper, Taylex Display & Exhibition and his other backers that it wouldn’t have been possible for him and the family to run the car in 2018. To everyone involved, he passes on his heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

My thanks to Darelle for sharing this journey with me and opening up on how difficult it can be to go racing in any series with a new car.

I will be keeping things up to date on here as well as in The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group where members will also be sharing their thoughts and any news from The 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), The 2019 TCR Europe Touring Car Series, The 2019 TCR UK Touring Car Championship and other Domestic & Regional TCR Series from around the world.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

Darelle Wilson – My Road to the TCR UK Series: Part 2 – Funding Secured!

Darelle Wilson competed in one of the most recognisable cars of the first ever season of the TCR UK Series, where he drove the family-run Vauxhall Astra TCR in its bright green livery.

Whilst preparations are underway to compete in the 2019 season, Wilson himself has opened up about how his journey to joining the TCR UK Series took place. The TCR Talk Blog will be sharing this journey on a regular basis.

In this second part of the story, the Vauxhall driver explains how he secured funding to buy the Opel Astra TCR and was able to finally get to grips with the car during the first weekend of the TCR UK Series.

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The Vauxhall Astra that Darelle Wilson drove in the 2018 TCR UK Series. Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Having tested the Opel Astra TCR in Germany, it was already clear that Darelle wanted to race the car in the UK. However, as always, to go racing you first need some funding…

“On returning from Germany I was buzzing with the excitement of racing in TCR for the inaugural season. But the reality of it was, that after working out the minimum budget to do the series we were a long way off being able to raise that sort of money,” explains Wilson.

“Stefan from Kissling Motorsport came up with a payment plan which would involve an initial deposit, another payment before the car was delivered and a final payment before June.”

In order to raise the money to buy the car, tough decisions had to made and this process involved the Volkswagen Scirocco that Darelle had driven to end the 2017 season on a high note.

“We decided to sell the VW Scirocco however this would mean we had nothing to fall back on should the TCR plan not come to fruition. With the decision made I sent the deposit to Kissling & they set about building the car.”

With the Astra being built in Germany, there was still the matter of getting funds together to racing in the full season of TCR UK. Fortunately, a familiar Saviour was about to save the day…

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Martin Depper came to the teams rescue by paying to drive the Volkswagen Scirocco Darelle had driven in 2017. Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

“At this stage, we had secured a few small promises of sponsorship but nothing major. Then I had a phone call from Martin Depper to ask could we run a car in the VW for him,” explained Darelle.

“I suggested that we use the Scirocco and a test day at Donington was quickly arranged. Thankfully everything went well and Martin agreed on a package to race our car for the season!”

And just like that, the funds were secured!

With the funds in place, Darelle contacted Kissling Motorsport and confirmed that they would make the second payment before the Official press day for TCR UK. His only request was to have the car delivered to Silverstone when it was ready.

After a great effort from Kissling Motorsport, the car arrived at Silverstone on Thursday 29th March, which was the day before the Official test.

Taylex Display & Exhibition arrived a little later to wrap the car and apply graphics so the car would appear in the familiar DW Racing team colours for Friday’s running of the cars.

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Darelle finally got his hands on the Vauxhall Astra TCR during the opening weekend of the TCR UK Series at Silverstone. Credit: Les Latham

Come Friday and the team were informed not to start the car until the technicians arrived from Germany as this would be the official hand over of the car to them. Unfortunately, their flight to the UK was delayed and the team could do nothing but wait.

Once Darelle was in the car, it was a realisation of all of the hard work put in so far.

“During the day we managed to get 2 laps behind the camera car with the other cars which was both a relief and a pain at the same time,” he explains.

“Yes we had made it !! but I wanted to go FASTER!!”

At this stage, Darelle and the team had managed to get the car to Silverstone but they were also broke…

“The car had arrived with Hankook tyres that were used in the ADAC TCR Germany Series and the championship organisers would not let us do the morning warm-up on them as TCR UK uses Yokohama’s.”

“At this stage, We could only afford 1 set of slick tyres & 1 set of wet tyres so we chose to wait until the start of qualifying to use them.”

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The first ever TCR UK Series race at Silverstone. Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

With the car setup at Silverstone and only having tyres for both Qualifying and the two races (Where the conditions were very mixed!) the next challenge was how would Darelle fair in a brand new car on tyres he’d never tried against a field of debutants in the Opening races of TCR UK?

To Be Continued…

Darelle has made it very clear that without the support from Martin Depper, Taylex Display & Exhibition and his other backers that it wouldn’t have been possible for him and the family to run the car in 2018. To everyone involved, he passes on his heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

My thanks to Darelle for sharing this journey with me and opening up on how difficult it can be to go racing in any series with a new car.

2018-2018 Silverstone Free Practice and Qualifying---WilsonFP-06
Darelle Wilson. Credit: BRSCC / TCR UK Series

I will be keeping things up to date on here as well as in The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group where members will also be sharing their thoughts and any news from FIA WTCR, The TCR Europe Series, Domestic & Regional TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started in 2018.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!