The world of TCR is not slowing down during the winter period as the International Series and Domestic TCR Series all begin to build up for the second year of the TCR Regulations in use.
So, here’s a round up of all the TCR news from last week…
OPEL ASTRA TCR IN EXTENSIVE TESTING PROGRAMME
The Opel Astra TCR development programme is going at full speed. Last week, the new customer racing touring car covered around 250 laps of the Estoril circuit over five test days.
“It was a good test,” said Opel Motorsport Director Jörg Schrott. “The timeline is still very tight, but we are on schedule. The Astra TCR ran reliably at the last tests in Zandvoort and Estoril, it’s performing well. Now we’re working on fine-tuning details before the first vehicles are delivered to our customer teams at the end of February.”
The Opel Astra TCR will be officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show (March 3/13). Opel Motorsport Technical Director Dietmar Metrich and the team at Opel development partner Kissling Motorsport paid special attention to the front axle’s sophisticated concept. “On a racing car with around 330 hp and front-wheel drive, this is a key component. All the longitudinal and lateral forces of a TCR car, so in addition to braking and steering this also means acceleration, affect both front wheels,” explained Metrich. “And this is not only about the lap times, it is also about tire wear.”
During the last test drives, the technicians concentrated on the basic setup to draw out the Astra TCR’s maximum performance. Metrich commented: “It’s always easier to make a fast racing car solid than to make a solid one fast. But ultimately the best of both has to be at hand. What is important in the process is the meticulous balancing of the mechanical grip of the chassis and wheels as well as the aerodynamic grip. Both give the racing car fast and easy-to-drive handling.”
“We still have lots of work ahead of us before our TCR debut,” Schrott concluded. “But I’m already looking forward to the coming season. The TCR is exactly what the teams and fans want. Thrilling, breathtakingly close motorsport featuring cars the spectators can identify with. This approach is a surefire success.”
LUCA RANGONI TESTS THE SUBARU TCR AT CREMONA
The Top Run-built Subaru STi TCR has successfully concluded a test day at San Martino del Lago circuit, near Cremona in Northern Italy. Luca Rangoni, who drove the Subaru on its maiden appearance in the TCR International Series last year in Singapore, returned to the wheel and completed around 150 kilometres without reporting any technical issues.
Top Run Team Manager Renato Russo explained: “This was the first proper test after last year’s races and we were very happy with it. The car adopted some new solutions that were worked out following the advice given by Luca and Alain Menu. The engine has always been the car’s strong point with an excellent mix of power and range, but now the car also has a good balance although we still need to work to reduce the understeer. This is our priority, because we wish to offer a product that can be easily driven by amateur drivers as well.”
Austrian rally driver Manfred Stohl – vice champion in the 1998 Production World Rally Championship – took the wheel for a few laps and was impressed. He is interested in fielding the Subaru with his own team in the ADAC TCR German series. Stohl also took part in the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship at the wheel of a WorldRX Team Austria Ford Fiesta Supercar.
Following on from this
Top Run Motorsport completed its latest test day at Cremona, with Luca Rangoni again at the wheel of the Subaru STi TCR. On a sunny day, the Japanese car covered more than 150 kilometres without suffering from any technical issues.
“We are very happy with the work we have done,”said team manager Renato Russo. “The changes we made to the front axle following last week’s test have proved to be effective. The understeer problems have been solved and driveability has improved significantly. We are very grateful to Luca Rangoni who has fully committed himself to the task of helping the team in developing the car. Without his experience and dedication it would have taken much more time to get to this point. We think that we have now reached the stage where we can entrust the Subaru to the teams that will run it during the season.”
Top Run has planned the first test with one of its customer teams by the middle of next week.
CORTHALS AND CAPRASSE TO SHARE AN OPEL IN TCR BENELUX
DG Sport Compétition announced its participation in the 2016 TCR Benelux championship with an Opel Astra TCR. The experienced duo of Pierre-Yves Corthals and Frédéric Caprasse will be sharing the wheel of the German car.
One of Belgium’s best touring car specialists, ‘Pilou’ Corthals has claimed a number of titles in the Renault cups and proved competitive in the World Touring Car Championship as well. “The TCR championship is a great opportunity for me to show my skills and experience with the front-wheel driven cars,” he said.
Caprasse was crowned champion in the 2015 VW Fun Cup and has also raced in the Belgian championships at the wheel of Porsche 991 Cup and SEAT León TCR.
DG Sport Compétition will receive its Opel Astra at the beginning of April; team manager Alain Georges and technical director Lionel Hansen are also evaluating the possibility to field a second car in the TCR Benelux.
TARGET COMPETITION CONFIRMS SWITCH TO OPEL ASTRA TCR
The Target Competition team has confirmed that it will enter a total of seven Opel Astra cars in two different TCR championships in 2016.
The announcement means the team will switch from the SEAT León cars with which it won both the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles in the TCR International Series in 2015.
“We are very proud to be able to race under the Opel colors in the TCR,” said Team Principal Andreas Gummerer, while his twin brother Markus added: “We are convinced of the Astra TCR’s potential and trust Opel’s extensive experience in touring car racing. For us, mutual trust is the basis for good collaboration, and that was present in abundance from the very first moment.”
Opel Motorsport Director Jörg Schrott commented: “We are delighted that the 2015 TCR International Series champions have decided to race our Astra TCR this season. We can only benefit from their TCR experience. With Target Competition, we have found a strong customer and partner for entry into the TCR series.”
Driver announcements will be made in due course, although Josh Files has previously announced that he will drive one of the Astra’s for Team Target Competition in ADAC TCR Germany.
VANBELLINGEN AND DERMONT TOGETHER IN TCR BENELUX
The 2016 Motorsport season start for Steve Vanbellingen about barely ten days with the Haspengouw Rally, the opening round of the BK Rally. It is at once the beginning of a very tough and challenging year, in addition to the BK Rally, the Belcar Trophy, an outing in the Supercar Challenge and the endurance race in the Lithuanian Palanga also the brand new and promising TCR Benelux. Vanbellingen will share a MILO Racing VW Golf with David Dermont, ever at work in the KS Motorsport BMW.
Remember Belgian Procar? It was a very high quality Belgian touring car championship in the 90s and early 2000s for BMW, Audi, Toyota, Opel and other touring car brands. The games were the type of sprint came on TV and made for full stands and real top Motorsport. The TCR Benelux Series is now looking to claim that mantle.
Mid last year the TCR Benelux proposed the first national championship based on the promising TCR regulations. The formula, based on the GT3 philosophy is that the performance of various touring cars under the hood are equated to one another with a 1.6 or 2.0 liter turbocharged engine, resulting in highly concurrent performance and therefore very exciting races. The TCR International Series witness some exciting racing last season and this is what the 2016 TCR Benelux championship hopes to see also.
The spectators get a maximum offered to show, with each race weekend several sprint races, where both riders are put to work. Furthermore, in order to involve the public in the show, fully deployed on interactivity on social media. Thus the starting grid for the long race is drawn up on the basis of votes on Facebook. The calendar consists of six events, including in the supporting program of the DTM at Zandvoort and the 24 Hours of Zolder. Even Spa Colmar-Berg, Assen and Mettet (final) on the menu.
David Dermont is a man with a lot of experience with next BTCS also successful in European competitions Renault, Blancpain, the Porsche Supercup etc.
Steve Vanbellingen: “I believe greatly in the TCR Benelux, just because it’s a championship that really brings together the best riders of our country, in the short sprint races, where every mistake will be punished mercilessly hard. We needed such an initiative and when you see how much response there to come with now middle motorsport winter, already a well-filled grid, then it is really important for me to be with the party. I therefore want my partner Comparex, GRL, EBB and Lunatec thank you for the trust. Also my two partners, Syus Capital – Head office do a lot, as we get additional support from Socardenne, the partner of the team. ”
JAS MOTORSPORT OPENS RACE-BASE IN ASIA
JAS Motorsport announced the opening of its a workshop at Sepang International Circuit that will serve as a Race-Base for selling racing cars and providingtechnical assistance to its Asian customers.
In 2016, JAS Motorsport will continue supporting an increasing number of independent teams in the different TCR series that are expanding in the Asian countries and the Dongfeng Honda Team in the China Touring Car Championship.
The 150 square-metre facility will house a race-preparation shop, fabrication workshop to repair the chassis, parts inventory and regional administrative offices to co-ordinate the multi-strand Asian racing operations.
“We will have core members of the HQ team from Italy on site when needed and have recruitedaddition technicians to staff the Sepang facility. We are delivering an expanded stock of essential parts forthe teams to draw on,” explained Mads Fischer, JAS Motorsport Customer Service and BusinessDevelopment Manager. “It is far more practical, efficient and cheaper to move cars from Hong Kong,Macau, Taiwan, Thailand, China and the region to Malaysia and we have an open door to the circuit fortesting.”
“Our new Sepang workshop base underlines our dedicated customer services philosophy which says if you have a Honda race car we are right beside you to race and win with spares, skilled mechanics andrace preparation facilities,” said Maurizio Ambrogetti, President of JAS Motorsport.
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!!