2015 TCR International Series Update No.5

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The 2015 TCR International Series is currently on a break until it returns to action as part of the support bill during The Singapore Grand Prix, however, that hasn’t stopped the news flowing…

Here are the latest updates…

MEETING OF TCR WORKING GROUP TOOK PLACE IN MILAN

In Milan, members of the TCR Working Group attended a meeting aimed to discuss strategies and synergies for the near future.

The meeting was chaired by Marcello Lotti, promoter of the TCR International Series, and among the attendees were representatives of eleven different national and regional TCR series: Asia, BeNeLux, Central America, China, The Dominican Republic, Germany, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Thailand and USA.

The first part of the meeting focused on 2016 calendars, coordination among the promoters, common promotional and communications activities and plans to encourage the competitors to have experience of different championships.

In the afternoon, the promoters were joined by representatives of car manufacturers and engineering companies that have either already built TCR cars or are currently in the process. Six different brands were represented, while three others were unable to attend and requested to be kept informed.

Another meeting of the TCR Working Group has been scheduled to take place in October.

LORIS HEZEMANS TO RACE IN SINGAPORE WITH TARGET

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Target Competition announced that Loris Hezemans will join the team for the next race meeting of the TCR International Series that will take place on September 19 and 20 at Marina Bay Circuit in the frame of the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The 18-year old Dutchman is the youngest exponent of a famous dynasty of racing drivers. His father Toine was one of the most successful sportscar and touring car racers in the Seventies; a factory driver for Alfa Romeo, BMW and Porsche, he was crowned three times European champion, twice in touring Cars (1970 and 1973) and once in GT (1976). He also claimed overall victories in the Targa Florio (1971), the 24 Hours of Spa (1973) and Daytona (1978) and two class wins in the Le Mans 24 Hours (1973 and 1975).

Loris’ elder brother Mike was a top racer in the FIA GT Championship, scoring twelve race wins at the wheel of Chrysler Viper cars and finishing four times second in the points (2000, 2001, 2008 and 2009).

Team principal Walter Gummerer explained: “Loris has raced for us in the latest round of the SEAT Eurocup at the Red Bull Ring; it was his first time at the wheel of the León and he won straight away. We were so much impressed that decided to let him race again in Singapore, with the aim of putting together a programme for next year’s TCR International Series.”

Loris Hezemans is only in his second racing season, having made his debut last year in the BeNeLux Renault Clio Cup; he is currently competing in the Audi Sport TT Cup. “I’m extremely excited to participate in the TCR International Series, especially in an event that takes place during the F1 Grand Prix, with a very large crowd. The championship itself looks very competitive with a lot of fast and experienced drivers and different brands involved. My goal in Singapore is to be able to make the top five and, hopefully, reach the podium in one of the races,” Hezemans said. 

OPEL DEVELOPS NEW ASTRA OPC FOR TCR INTERNATIONAL SERIES

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Opel Motorsport has announced that the new Astra OPC is being developed according to the TCR technical regulations for national and international customer racing.
The new Astra K will celebrate its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in September. The racing car Astra TCR is powered by a two-liter turbo-charged engine having an output of 330 bhp and a maximum torque of 410 Nm.

“Touring car racing has always been an important part of Opel. The philosophy of the new TCR series corresponds to our idea of customer racing. We want to give ambitious privately owned teams a platform for exciting sport at reasonable costs,”said Opel Group CMO Tina Müller.

The Opel Astra TCR is currently under development and the technical specifications will be announced at a later date. Testing of the new customer sports touring car is set to start in October.

TCR International Series promoter Marcello Lotti commented: “We are very pleased with Opel’s decision. We knew they were seriously evaluating the TCR concept in the latest month, and now the announcement that the new Astra is being developed in TCR-specs makes us very proud and adds another premier automobile brand to the TCR world.” 

TWO MORE VICTORIES FOR DUDUKALO IN RUSSIA

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Aleksey Dudukalo continues his domination in the Russian Circuit Racing Series at the wheel of the SEAT León TCR run by the Lukoil Racing Team.

Last weekend at the Smolensk Ring, Dudukalo added two further victories to his impressive tally and extended his lead in the Touring class standings.
Vitaly Larionov’s BMW 320si sat on pole position on the grid for Race 1, but Dudukalo took the lead at the start and maintained it throughout the race, rejecting Larionov’s attempt to overtake him after a safety car period. Dudukalo’s teammates Rustam Akiniyazov and Roman Golikov were classified third and fourth respectively.

In the second race, Dudukalo jumped into the lead during the opening lap; the fight behind him was decided by a couple of contacts that eliminated Larionov and Golikov and resulted in Akiniyazov’s exclusion. This meant that Andrey Yushin (Super Production Honda Civic) and Anton Badoev (BWM 320i E46) inherited the second and third positions respectively.

After five race meetings, Dudukalo leads the championship with 236 points; Larionov (133) and Golikov (131) are in a close fight for the second position.

TOP RUN NAMES GABBIANI AND RUSSO AS TEST DRIVERS

Gian Maria Gabbiani and Roberto Russo are the drivers appointed by Top Run for the development test programme of the TCR-spec Subaru WRX STi.

Gabbiani, 36 years old, has built himself a solid reputation scoring victories in the Italian GT and Touring Car championships; he’s the son of former F1 and Sportscar driver Beppe Gabbiani.
Russo, 56 years old, has always been one of Top Run’s favourite drivers; he claimed a number of wins in the Italian Touring Car Championships with Lancia, Alfa Romeo and Nissan cars.

The first Subaru TCR racing car is currently under construction in the workshop; the engine and all systems have been fitted into the shell, while the carbon fibre parts of the bodywork are due to be received in the next days.
The team expects to begin testing in the third week of August ahead of its debut in the TCR International Series at Singapore.

ROB HUFF TO JOIN WESTCOAST FOR MACAU GUIA RACE

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Rob Huff, one of the greatest touring car racers of his generation and the undisputed ‘King of Macau’, will join WestCoast Racing for this year’s Macau Guia Race, the final event of the 2015 TCR International Series.
The 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion has achieved no fewer than seven race wins in the former Portuguese dominion over the course of a decade at the pinnacle of international touring car racing and will likely have a shot at increasing his tally driving a JAS Motorsport-built Honda Civic TCR.

“Macau’s Circuito da Guia is quite simply the most challenging racetrack I’ve ever raced on and my record is strong there. I’m really pleased to have been invited to drive in the TCR International Series finale there and I am confident we will have a competitive package for this truly unique event,”said Huff who added: “It also serves as a great opportunity to team up with my young protégé Kevin Gleason, who has emerged as a race winner in the inaugural season of the TCR International Series. It will be a lot of fun and I’ll certainly be trying to get more Macau wins!”

WestCoast Racing Team Manager, James Nixon, said: “Rob is widely regarded as one of the world’s best touring car drivers and is unquestionably the most successful driver ever to compete in Macau so we are delighted to have the opportunity to welcome him to WestCoast Racing for the event to bolster our existing squad.”

This will be my last TCR International Series update for a few weeks as I’m getting married on 22nd of August!! However, keep an eye out for the buildup to the series return to action in Singapore on 19-20 of September!

All the best!

Phil!!

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