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 recent TCR news…
I will add that this roundup is before the Balance of Performance Test has taken place in Valencia. A second blog post will follow that up.
VALENCIA TO HOST TCR BALANCE OF PERFORMANCE TEST
On March 14th and 15th, Valencia’s Circuito Ricardo Tormo will host a TCR test to finalise the Balance of Performance for the upcoming season.
Just as in 2015, the former Formula 1 racer and Touring Car legend Nicola Larini has been appointed to test all the cars according to the programme prepared by the TCR Technical Bureau.
“Nicola did a great job last year in Barcelona; his tremendous experience and speed were instrumental in supplying our technicians with all the information they needed. This year his task will be even more important as we will have more cars testing, plus we have data collected during the TCR International Series race weekend that took place in Valencia in May 2015,” commented promoter Marcello Lotti.
The Balance of Performance will be determined either by adjusting the minimum weight of the cars in a range between +70 kg and -20 kg or by controlling the engine performance level by monitored electronic components.
The outcome of the Valencia test will dictate the BoP for all the TCR series worldwide.
SIX ROUNDS TO FORM THE TCR TROPHY EUROPE
The TCR Trophy Europe for Drivers will be awarded for the first time in 2016, based on the results of six events that are part of the corresponding number of TCR national championships.
TCR promoter Marcello Lotti explained: “This is a purely commercial trophy, based on the cooperation of the promoters of six TCR national championships in Europe that agreed to nominate one of their own events as a round of the Trophy.”
The Trophy will kick off in Russia, at Smolensk Ring on 15th May; it will then visit Italy (Misano, June 12), the Netherlands (Zandvoort, July 17), Germany (Nürburgring, August 7), Belgium (Zolder, August 20) and Spain (Jerez de la Frontera, November 6).
Only competitors (teams or drivers) who have registered for the full season in one of the TCR championships or series will be eligible to score points in the TCR Trophy Europe.
Each round of the European Trophy will be run according to the Sporting Regulations of the hosting championship and all competitors will have to conform to the local prescriptions in terms of format, control tyres, etc.
Drivers will score points for the Trophy according to the sum of points they scored in each relevant event: 25 points to the highest scorer, 18 to the second, 15 to the third and then 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 down to one point for the tenth-highest.
Only the best four scores will be valid for the TCR Trophy Europe classification
WRT AND LEOPARD RACING JOIN TCR INTERNATIONAL SERIES
Team WRT will make its debut in the TCR International Series as technical partner of Leopard Racing, which will enter two Volkswagen Golf TCR cars for the reigning champion, Stefano Comini and for Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay.
This is a significant development in WRT’s racing activity. After establishing itself as one of the most competitive teams in GT competitions, now the Belgian outfit engages for the first time in Touring Cars. The team will be involved in the TCR International Series with Leopard Racing, deepening a partnership that started in GT racing.
Team WRT will also be present in the new TCR Benelux Series, taking care of the SEAT León entered by the RACB National Team with the support of SEAT Belgium, entrusted to Sam Dejonghe and Denis Dupont, winners of the RACB special competition to select new Belgian young talents, and the VW Golf shared by Ronnie Latinne and Maxime Potty.
Vincent Vosse, Joint CEO and Team Principal said: “No doubt, it is going to be the busiest year for WRT so far! We have many exciting challenges ahead of us and we embrace them with our usual winning spirit. Each program will now have a dedicated staff and a leader. We are thrilled to join TCR racing, a new concept in which we believe very strongly!”
COMINI AND VERNAY: A STRONG PAIR FOR LEOPARD RACING
Leopard Racing enters the TCR arena with great ambitions as is proved by its choice both in terms of cars – two Volkswagen Golf prepared by WRT – and drivers: the reigning champion Stefano Comini and young Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay.
Team Principal Claudio Berro explained: “The TCR International Series enjoyed a lot of media attention in its first year, so after a positive season in the GT3 championship we chose TCR as our reference series for 2016. We are delighted to be able to field two great drivers and we will continue our technical partnership with WRT, which began in GT3. It’s a new challenge that I’m sure will turn out to be a successful one.”
After winning the 2015 TCR International Series, Comini looks forward to defending the title: “I have to thank Leopard Racing for giving me this wonderful opportunity and trusting my skill and experience with touring cars! As always I am here to win, with grit and passion. I am convinced that with WRT technical support we will be competitive from the very first race.”
Vernay faces his first season in Touring Cars after proving competitive in single-seaters (titles in the 2005 French Formula Campus and the 2010 Indy Lights) and sportscars (LMP2 champion in the 2011 International Le Mans Series). “I’m very happy to continue with Leopard Racing and WRT and also to rejoin Volkswagen, with which I achieved a podium in the 2009 Macau F3 World Cup. Front-wheel drive cars are a new and difficult challenge for me, but I’m confident and I definitely will be aiming to fight for the title.”
THAI PROMOTER TARGETING A FIELD OF TEN TCR CARS
TSS, promoter of the Thailand Super Series, is targeting a field of ten cars for the maiden season of the TCR Thailand series. It was announced during the official ‘Drivers & Team Managers Meeting’ that was held last week at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club.
The new TCR category, which will be incorporated into the TSS programme, was a key focus of attention during the proceedings. As well as being able to manage the import of the cars into Thailand, TSS will also be able to assist drivers with a unique financing scheme that will involve 50% of the car purchase cost being deferred for 24 months with conditions.
“TCR is receiving quite a lot of interest now,” said TSS Vice President Preeda Tantemsapya. “Lots of people are deciding and talking about and particularly want to know the running costs involved. We are targeting ten cars on the grid for the inaugural season of TCR Thailand, which will enjoy eight point scoring races as part of the TSS weekends. TCR Thailand drivers will also be able to enter the TCR Asia Series and TCR International Series rounds to be held in Buriram this year and that means they will have the opportunity to take part in a total of twelve races in Thailand spread over six events.”
TCR Thailand will run on the same Michelin control tyre used by the TCR International Series.
TCR INTERNATIONAL SERIES TO RETURN TO SOCHI IN JULY
Following its first visit to Sochi in 2015, this year the TCR International Series will race again on the racetrack that was designed by Hermann Tilke around the Olympic Park and that was inaugurated in 2014, hosting the first Formula 1 Russian GP.
The agreement between TCR promoter Marcello Lotti and the event promoter Oleg Petrikov was signed yesterday in Moscow under the aegis of the Russian Automobile Federation represented by its Executive director, Sergey Ivanov.
The event will take place on July 2 and 3 and will also feature rounds of the Touring and Touring Light classes of the Russian Circuit Racing Series.
“We are obviously very pleased to visit Sochi once again, after our successful event in 2015. The track suits well to touring cars, and Russia is a crucial market for the car manufacturers that are supporting the TCR concept. This event will also reinforce our partnership with RAF and the Russian Circuit Racing Series that made TCR cars eligible already from last year,” Lotti said.
As you can see, there is plenty of movement happening with what looks to be a fantastic year of action throughout the TCR Arena. Please keep following my blog for all the updates as well as joining up on the TCR Talk Facebook Group. As I have said previously, a second post concentrating on the Balance of Performance Test will be released soon.
Until next time, All the best!