The TCR International Series along with the TCR Asia field held its final races of 2015 at Macau back in November.
However that hasn’t stopped the news flowing regarding movements and confirmations for the 2016 season…
TCR International Series unveils 2016 calendar
The calendar of the 2016 TCR International Series will follow the same pattern as that of the maiden season, but with a few important changes of venues.
The series is aiming to support three Formula 1 events once again. “We are currently negotiating with the Formula One Management, and our wish is to be part of the Bahrain, Singapore and Malaysia Grands Prix. Which would result in a season’s kick off in Bahrain on April 3,” promoter Marcello Lotti explained.
Six other race meetings will be held in Europe at Estoril (24 April, with the GT Open and TCR Portugal), Spa (8 May, with the World Endurance Championship), Monza (22 May, with TCR Italy), Salzburgring (5 June), Oschersleben (19 June, with TCR Germany) and Sochi (3 July).
The TCR International Series will then move to the Far East for the final part of the season with the two F1 events at Singapore and Sepang, China (together with the China Touring Car Championship), Thailand and the Macau Guia Race on November 20.
Figures speak of TCR successful maiden season
The 2015 TCR International Series came to its end two weeks ago in Macau and the outcome of its maiden season exceeded expectations, as is clearly proved by the figures.
68 drivers of 22 nationalities entered in the series’ 11 events, at the wheel of cars of seven different brands: Audi, Ford, Honda, Opel, SEAT, Subaru and Volkswagen. 45 of those drivers scored points for the championship, 10 of them claimed race victories, 12 were in the lead during the 22 races and 7 set pole positions.
Looking at the car manufacturers that were represented, 4 won at least one race (SEAT, Honda, Audi and Volkswagen), while a fifth (Opel) achieved one podium result and was in the lead for some laps.
The average participation was more than 18 cars per event.
“We are obviously very pleased with how this inaugural season went. Especially when we consider that one year ago many people decided to sit and wait for what we were actually going to deliver. I believe that the first season has provided an answer to all of them. The figures say everything about the rapidly growing interest from drivers, teams and car manufacturers. But they are also evidence of how well the TCR International Series is fulfilling its task of promoting the TCR concept in many different countries worldwide,”commented promoter Marcello Lotti, who added: “For 2016, it is not reckless to predict that at least a couple of other car manufacturers will be represented and that TCR-spec cars will be competing in more than 180 races through national or regional championships around the globe.”
Testing programme continues for the Giulietta TCR
The Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR continues its development programme. Following the first ever track test, which took place last week at the San Martino del Lago circuit near to Cremona, the car ran again Tuesday and Wednesday at the same track. During the two days, the weather became fine after a foggy morning; Michela Cerruti and Salvatore Tavano took turns at the wheel once again. They were unanimous in saying: “The car has exceeded our expectations.”
The two drivers focused on the set up, making numerous pit stops for the adjustments. Despite the low temperatures and the fact that they did not complete many laps, both Cerruti and Tavano were able to clock very promising times.
“We were quickly at ease with the Giulietta, which is very good in balance and braking. The engine has an excellent torque and it’s easy to find a good feeling with the car,” the drivers commented.
The company’s CEO Mario Ferraris added: “We have successfully accomplished the preliminary stage, now we are ready to begin the actual development in view of the 2016 season. We have planned several thousand kilometres of test to work on performance and reliability and to decide on the final set up.”
LIQUI MOLY TEAM ENGSTLER SIGNS EUROPEAN CHAMPION FOR 2016
Davit Kajaia is the first driver to commit for the 2016 season of the TCR International Series. The 31-year old from Georgia has signed with Liqui Moly Team Engstler to drive one of the Volkswagen Golf cars run by the German outfit.
After clinching no less than six national titles in the Georgian Slalom and Legends series, Kajaia was crowned three times champion in the Legends European Cup (2012, 2013 and 2014).
During the current season, the Georgian has collected another European title, dominating the TC2T class in the FIA European Touring Car Cup at the wheel of a Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW 320 TC.
“We are happy to continue working with Davit. The new car and new tracks will be a great challenge for him and the team, but we are confident that together we may enjoy another successful season in 2016,” said team manager Kurt Treml who added: “We will run three Golf TCR cars in the 2016 TCR International Series and soon we will announce our two other drivers.”
THREE VW GOLF CARS IN THE 2016 TCR BENELUX
The Belgian VW Club, the racing arm of Volkswagen in Belgium today confirmed that three Volkswagen Golf TCR cars will be entered by Belgian teams in the TCR Benelux series that will kick-off in 2016.
The two Belgian teams that will run the Wolfsburg-made machines are Delahaye Racing that ordered two cars, and DVB Racing, with one. Programmes and drivers are still to be announced.
Charles-Henri Bonnet, Secretary-General of the Belgian VW Club, has commented: “We now have confirmation from Volkswagen Motorsport that three Golf TCR cars will be delivered to those two teams in the first quarter of 2016, well ahead of the start of the series in late May. We have been a strong supporter of the TCR concept since the very beginning and are delighted of this development. The Belgian VW Club will support the efforts of those two teams and we will announce shortly in which way.”
DUŠAN BORKOVIĆ JOINS TCR WITH B3 RACING
Dušan Borković, who was recently crowned champion in the Single-Make Trophy class of the FIA European Touring Car Cup, will move to the TCR International Series in 2016.
The Serbian driver will compete in a SEAT León run by the B3 Racing Team Hungary, the very same outfit with which Borković has claimed the 2015 European title.
“It has been a decision taken after a few months during which I considered options in a number of different categories. Eventually, the possibility to stay with B3 Racing and to face a new exciting challenge in a truly global series that is tailored for independent drivers tipped the scale in favour of the TCR International Series,” Borković explained.
“What makes TCR even more attractive for myself and my sponsors is a calendar that includes three Formula 1 events in Bahrain, Singapore and Malaysia. I am really excited and soon I will be leaving for the USA, where I usually prepare myself for the upcoming season. I want to be in perfect shape in February, when we will start testing.”
Borković, who won his first FIA European title in the 2012 Hill Climbing championship, is the second reigning ETCC champion to move to TCR after TC2T class winner Davit Kajaia.
THE 2016 TCR ASIA SERIES CALENDAR WAS UNVEILED
The TCR Asia Series unveiled the calendar for the 2016 season that will include six events against the four that were held during its maiden year.
The championship will kick off at the circuit developed for Formula One in South Korea in (15 May), before heading to Buriram in Thailand (12 June). The third race meeting will take place at Sepang in Malaysia (7 August) before teams are given the opportunity to take part in an invitational event at Marina Bay in Singapore (18 September).
The penultimate round will be held at the all-new internationally classified Zhejiang Circuit in southern China (23 October), before the final round at the Macau Grand Prix (20 November).
“2015 saw the introduction of TCR on a global level, and the formula proved an almost instant success,”WSC Asia Limited’s David Sonenscher explained. “At the same time we introduced the TCR Asia Series, and whilst we always knew it would be a challenge in it’s first year, we saw solid fields and a lot of interest from competitors across the region. Off the back of the first season, we have a strong level of enquiry from teams wanting to be a part of the 2016 series. Again we will join the TCR International Series at Singapore and Macau, however the bulk of our season will be for TCR Asia Series teams alone, which will provide plenty of opportunities for the local stars to shine. We’re expecting an exciting year of growth.”
THE MONDRON BROTHERS WILL SHARE TCR BENELUX DRIVE
Belgium’s Delahaye Racing, one of the first teams to have committed to the TCR Benelux Series to kick-off in 2016, has officially announced its driver line-up. It will be two brothers, Edouard and Guillaume Mondron, aged 29 and 22 respectively driving the SEAT León in 2016 specs and entered by Gilles Terlinden’s team.
The Mondron brothers have naturally inherited the motorsports virus from their father Jean-Pierre and have often shared the wheel in the recent past, winning the BRCC title in 2013 with a Ginetta, the VW Fun Cup 25 Hours in 2014 and the European VW Fun Cup last year.
“We couldn’t miss the start of a new era for touring car racing that the TCR represents in our country”, commented jointly the two young guns.
TCR REGULATIONS CHOSEN AS FIA TCN2 REGULATIONS FOR 2016
The introduction of the FIA’s new-for-2016 TCN2 technical regulations has created a clear path to the pinnacle of touring car racing with the FIA European Touring Car Cup integral in providing the next generation WTCC racers.
TCN2 cars will chase ETCC success in 2016 and Alan Gow, the FIA Touring Car Commission President, says the sport is on to a good thing as a result.
“I am very pleased that we have been able to formalise the structure of the touring car categories below the FIA World Touring Car Championship,” said Gow. “We have worked very hard to bring some order to touring car racing underneath the pinnacle of WTCC – and I believe that the introduction of these regulations has achieved that.”
He added: “We now have a very clear set of regulations for national and international championships that we think can help strengthen the discipline around the world.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the FIA ETCC and WTCC promoter, said: “S2000 has worked over 15 years but comes towards its end. TCN2 regulations we will take the ETCC into an new era, encourage more drivers and teams to take part in international touring car racing at a sub-WTCC level and provide a good step in between national championships and WTCC.”
The new-generation TCN2 cars are equipped with up to two-litre turbocharged engines, sequential gearboxes fitted with paddle-shift mechanisms, homologated roll cages and limited aerodynamic aids. They also benefit from safety fuel cells and side-impact protective door foam.
The September session of the FIA World Motor Sport Council approved the new TCN2 technical regulations for National Touring Car Championships in order to establish the minimum technical requirements for touring cars and have been defined over two levels – TCN1 and TCN2 – both positioned below WTCC cars.
Consequently, the FIA will favour the TCN2 technical regulations for Regional Touring Car Championships, such as the ETCC where there is already strong interest among existing and potential entrants in the new TCN2 machines.
If you also include the recent testing of the new Opel Astra TCR car at Zandvoort, the rapid pace of growth from ADAC TCR Germany which will see 23 entries for its first season and sharing a weekend with the DTM at Zandvoort, the TCR Concept is looking very healthy for its second year of racing…
No doubt there will be many more announcements to come and I will try to share as many as possible both on here and in the TCR Talk Facebook Group.
All the best!!