The Motorsport Arena hosts an event full of emotions
The TCR International Series will pay its first visit to Germany, as the sixth event of the season takes place at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben.
Built in 1997 and partially modified in 2007, this modern racetrack has always been a favourite of Touring Car drivers for its demanding layout that offers several opportunities to overtake. This is also the reason why German fans always flock to the Motorsport Arena to enjoy the door-to-door battles between saloon cars.
This event promises to deliver a range of emotions, as the ADAC TCR Germany and the ADAC Formula 4 will share the bill with the TCR International Series, while the Deutscher Tourenwagen Cup (DTC) and the Haigo Historic Cup complete the programme.
The maximum ballast shifts from Comini to Vernay
For the second consecutive event one of the Leopard Racing drivers will carry 30 extra kilos as a consequence of the maximum success ballast.
After Stefano Comini at the Salzburgring ten days ago, it will be Jean-Karl Vernay who will carry the heaviest handicap on board his Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at Oschersleben. This is the consequence of the fact the young Frenchman was the best scorer in Austria with a haul of 39 points, that included 25 for his victory in the second race.
James Nash of Craft-Bamboo Lukoil, who is currently third in the championship standings, five points ahead of Vernay, will carry 20 kilos of ballast as the second best scorer in the Austrian event, while WestCoast Racing’s Mikhail Grachev – the winner of the first race at the Salzburgring – will retain the 10 kilos for the third best scorer for the second consecutive time.
With the Success Ballast figures added to the BoP, the running weights of the three cars will be: 1315 kg for Vernay’s Volkswagen Golf, 1335 kg for Nash’s SEAT León and 1325 kg for Grachev’s Honda Civic.
The current championship leader Comini, his closest competitor Pepe Oriola and Gianni Morbidelli who is fifth in the classification on equal points with Vernay, will have the opportunity to take advantage in driving ballast-free cars.
Antti Buri redoubles his efforts over the German weekend
Finnish driver Antti Buri will be facing a hard working weekend at Oschersleben, where he will race in both the TCR International and TCR German series.
In his maiden TCR season, the 28-year old from Masku has already made an impact on both series. A regular competitor in TCR Germany with an LMS Racing SEAT León Cup Racer, Buri is currently sixth in the Drivers’ classification having claimed one victory in the second race at the Sachsenring. He could, however, have been placed higher, had his first victory in Race 2 at Oschersleben not been disallowed by a penalty for a jump-start.
Buri also found the time to make a first appearance in the TCR International Series at Spa-Francorchamps, driving a Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI. The debut resulted in brilliant results too, as he finished third in the second race, behind his temporary teammates Jean-Karl Vernay and Stefano Comini.
Buri will take part in both the ADAC TCR Gemany and the TCR International Series with the LMS SEAT car.
Liqui Moly Team Engstler signs Mackshin for home event
Niklas Mackshin, 21-year old from the Hanover region, was the latest addition to the TCR International Series field for the Oschersleben event.
The young German will drive a Volkswagen Golf Gti for the Liqui Moly Team Engstler alongside the team’s regular Davit Kajaia.
Despite his young age, Mackshin has already proved a very competitive driver in Touring Car competition. After winning two German titles in the 2013 ADAC Chevrolet Cruze Cup and the 2014 DMV BMW Challenge, Mackshin switched to international racing and dominated the Super 1600 class in the 2015 FIA European Touring Car Cup.
At the wheel of a Ford Fiesta he won 10 out of the series’ 12 races and clinched the continental crown.
In the current season he is successfully defending his title; with four victories out of six races Mackshin is leading the standings with a wide margin.
TCR Germany shares the bill with the International Series
The ADAC TCR Germany shares the bill with the TCR International Series in the race weekend at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben.
In its maiden season, the German series has already established itself as one of the most competitive among the national championships that have adopted the TCR concept.
The first two race meetings of the season were held at Oschersleben and Sachsenring and after this second visit to Oschersleben the series will race at Red Bull Ring (Austria), Nürburgring, Zandvoort (Netherlands) and Hockenheim.
After the first two events, Austrian driver Harald Proczyk (HP Racing SEAT León) – the winner of the first race at the Sachsenring – is leading the standings with 70 points, seven ahead of Britain’s Josh Files (Target Competition SEAT León) who won both races in the Oschersleben opener. Benjamin Leuchter (Racing One Volkswagen Golf GTI) is the first German driver in the classification and lies third, 12 points behind the leader.
TCR names Motorsport.com as ‘Official Media Partner’
WSC Ltd, owner of the TCR brand and promoter of the TCR International Series announced today that has named Motorsport.com as its ‘Official Media Partner’.
Formed in 1994, Motorsport.com is a technologically advanced international digital media group specializing in motor racing contents offering 21 editions in 14 languages, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is part of the Motorsport Network.
As part of the agreement, Motorsport.com will provide full coverage on all its 21 editions and 14 native languages, as well as sister brands Motorsport.tv andMotor1.com. Live streaming of races will also be provided on the network and coverage will be granted to the TCR International, Regional and National series.
“TCR was born with the aim to become a global concept for Touring Car racing. In less than two years expectations have been largely exceeded, as the TCR cars have been made eligible (or they will be in the near future) by no less than fourteen international, regional and national series worldwide.” said TCR promoter Marcello Lotti.
“The media partnership with Motorsport.com fits perfectly in the strategy of consolidating and promoting the image of TCR on a truly global level. In fact, there is no other motorsports digital media company in the world that has this comprehensive coverage of racing, including its automotive enthusiasts brand Motor1.com. It is a platform that may be profitably exploited by promoters, manufacturers, suppliers and partners alike.”
“We are privileged that the TCR has chosen Motorsport.com as its ‘Official Media Partner’,” said Filippo Salza, president, Motorsport.com – Europe. “As the most-viewed motorsport digital media company in the world, adding first-class content like the TCR continues grow our brand and global audience. We firmly believe in the direction that Marcello Lotti is taking the category and look forward in providing world-class content to our readership.”
Qualifying – Borković and Homola make 1-2 for B3
B3 Racing Team claimed a great result in Qualifying at Oschersleben, placing two of their SEAT cars on the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s Race 1.
With a somehow unexpected performance that even surprised himself, Dušan Borković won his second pole position of the season and beat his teammate Mat’o Homola by a bit more than two tenths.
James Nash of Craft-Bamboo Lukoil qualified in third position, benefiting from the penalty imposed to Jean-Karl Vernay who had his fastest time disallowed for a track-limit infringement. Similar penalties also affected the results of Gianni Morbidelli, Sergey Afanasyev and Petr Fulín. This promoted Antti Buri to a brilliant fourth position ahead of Afanasyev.
It was a triumphant result for the SEAT cars that filled the first five places, with Morbidelli’s Honda and Vernay’s Volkswagen in sixth and seventh.
David Kajaia and Stefano Comini qualified in tenth and ninth respectively and will be on the front row of the top-ten reversed grid for Race 2.
The first race will start this tomorrow at 12:35 local time, over a distance of 15 laps.
Q1: Oriola is the fastest by far
Pepe Oriola was the only driver so far to break the 1:35 wall, as he posted a fastest lap of 1:34.779 that no one else was able to match.
The drivers were cautious in the early stages, as the track was still drying after a drizzle that had disturbed the TCR Germany first race.
When lap times began to drop, Jean-Karl Vernay set the mark at 1:35.748, but this was soon bettered by Mat’o Homola who jumped on top with a lap of 1:35.294.
Oriola was able to go even faster and demoted Homola to second.
Petr Fulín provided the last thrill by moving up from 13th to ninth on his last lap, kicking Mikhail Grachev out of the top-twelve in the process.
The following drivers made the cut for Q2: Oriola, Homola, Comini, Afanasyev, Vernay, Borković, Nash, Morbidelli , Fulín, Kajaia, Tassi and Buri .
Q2: Borković creates a surprise
Dušan Borković set pole position in Q2, nearly matching the Oriola’s record lap from Q1. After being the fastest by far in the first part of the Qualifying, the Spaniard was not able to repeat the performance and finished a disappointing eight.
Homola qualified second (1:35.131), two tenths behind his teammate and beat Vernay’s 1:35.138 by only seven thousandths of a second. However, the Frenchman had his fastest lap disallowed for trespassing the track limits, which helped James Nash (1:35.177) to inherit the third position.
Drivers’ quotes after the Qualifying session
Dušan Borković (pole position): “I am very happy of this second pole of the season, especially because I was not expecting it. I tend not to like slow tracks and slow corners, so I was not thinking to be on pole here. I didn’t push very hard and maybe that was the key. Of course, to have two of our cars on the front row is a great reward for the entire team, who has had a lot of work so far this season. Tomorrow, the first laps will be difficult, because it’s hard to warm up the tyres on this track, but I really hope I’ll be able to correct my reputation of ‘qualifying master but race disaster’!”
Mat’o Homola (second): “For sure, it’s an excellent result for the entire team, and we see that we become better and better at every outing. I’m not very fond either of slow corners, but I tend to do well on this kind of tracks, so it would be nice if tomorrow Dušan and I can win both races. After a collection of finishes between second and fifth, I’d really like to clinch a race win.”
James Nash (third): “I have good memories of Oschersleben, where I got some good results in the past and my first podium in Europe. It is a very special track and I think it is important not to over-drive, because you get severely penalized. That’s what I tried to do and it paid off, although the gap with the pole, three tenths, seems relatively huge. Half of it, though, I think it is because of the 20 kg success ballast, which on a slow track always plays a greater effect.”
Pepe Oriola (eighth): “In Q2 I couldn’t be as competitive as in Q1, and there was no special reason for that. I think I simply pushed too hard and overdrove a bit, and this does not pay off on this track. By breaking later in the slower corners, you end up losing time…”
Cerruti deprived of Alfa’s progress by a pedal issue
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta was one of the stars of free practice and qualifying sessions at Oschersleben. The car of Petr Fulin was fourth fastest in free practice 1 and then made it easily to Q2, proving the significant progress made both in terms of performance and reliability by the car developed by Romeo Ferraris.
“It is nice and rewarding to see that all our work is paying off,” commented Michela Cerruti, the driver that has been developing the car since the start of the project, “We are now much closer to the front-runners in terms of performance and have improved much in reliability. We still have a number of things to improve, in electronics for instance, but we are definitely on the right course.”
Unfortunately, the Italian driver could not exploit to the fullest the potential of her car.“An issue with the pedals has arisen in Michela’s car,” explained Mulsanne Racing team principal Claudio Bortoletto. “It is a mechanical problem that was hindering her driving, but unfortunately it is a relatively complex repair that we cannot perform out of the factory.”
TCR Germany: Fugel wins Race 1 after penalties
Dominik Fugel inherited his maiden victory in the TCR Germany after a 30-second time penalty was imposed to Josh Files who had crossed the line first with a big gap.
Files was penalised for a starting grid infringement, just like his Target Competition teammate Jürgen Schmarl, Antti Buri and Mike Beckhusen (who had finished 3rd, 9thand 13th respectively).
Fugel’s victory was also the first one for the Honda Team ADAC; Mike Halder’s SEAT (Liqui Moly Team Engstler) and Steve Kirsch (Fugel’s teammate) completed the podium.
The race was eventful, with an incident at Turn 1 after the start that involved Kirsch, Tim Zimmermann, Kai Jordan and Beckhusen. Files took the lead from Mario Dablander, while Fugel, Harald Proczyk, Schmarl and Ronny Jost were fighting for third.
On lap 7 Dablander had to pay a drive through because his car was not in the correct position on the starting grid. The Swiss dropped from second to 18th and decided to retire.
A shower disturbed the second part of the race, but this did not slowed down Files and Fugel who finished first and second, with Schmarl in third place.
However, shortly after the end of the race the Stewards issued the penalties for Files and Schmarl, which promoted Fugel, Halder and Kirsch to the top three positions.
Oriola and Nash lead the championship on equal points
The half-season mark was rounded at Oschersleben, where the TCR International Series offered two action-packed races, that the changing weather conditions were made even livelier. The main take-away of the weekend is that, after three winless events, the SEAT León cars took a double victory and monopolized the podium positions.
It was an emotional Race 1 for Mat’o Homola, as the young Slovak took his maiden win in the series, while Race 2 allowed Pepe Oriola to go back to the highest spot of the podium that he hadn’t visited since the season-opener in Bahrain. Both Dušan Borković and James Nash collected a double podium finish, which in the case of the Serbian means breaking a string of frustrating results. His and Homola’s harvest of heavy points also meant that B3 Racing Hungary is now a brilliant second in the Teams’ standings behind Craft-Bamboo Lukoil.
Oriola has also regained the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, although being on equal points with his teammate Nash, who proved again his consistency by taking two third places.
Homola is now only four points behind the duo, while Stefano Comini, Gianni Morbidelli and Jean-Karl Vernay have had a more difficult weekend as they were involved in different race incidents. They all struggled to salvage a few points, and it is now clear that every single point will have its weight at the end of the season in such a close fight for the title.
The German rounds yielded more interesting news, as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta cars showed great progress in performance, way beyond Michela Cerruti’s P9 in Race 2, while some of the youngest guns of the series, like Attila Tassi (7th in Race 2) and Niklas Mackschin (who finished 9th and a 8th) put some strong showings in the close fights that delighted the fans.
Race 1 – Mat’o Homola claims his maiden win
After dominating Qualifying, B3 Racing Team’s Dušan Borković and Mat’o Homola swapped positions in the first race and gave B3 Racing Team its first victory in the TCR International Series.
Although he was able to exploit his pole position, Borković made a couple of mistake that dropped him behind his teammate. Homola had a spotless race and managed to keep his competitors at bay, with James Nash, Sergey Afanasyev and Antti Buri crossing the line behind the B3 Racing duo.
In a race that was plenty of incidents and safety car interventions, Gianni Morbidelli and Pepe Oriola managed to survive, salvaging a seventh and tenth positions that might prove crucial in the title fight, while Stefano Comini was forced to retire.
The two Mulsanne Racing’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta cars were brilliantly running in seventh (Michela Cerruti) and eighth (Petr Fulín) when they were both stopped by mechanical failures in the final laps.
With these results, Homola is the new championship leader, Nash is second, one point behind; Oriola and Comini are on equal points, with a gap of 11 from the leader.
Race One Key Facts
Start: Borković takes the lead from Nash and Homola
Lap 1: A collision at T1 involves Grachev, Kajaia, Oriola, Comini and Afanasyev
Lap 2: Homola and Buri overtake Nash who drops to fourth; Morbidelli goes wide and drops at the back
Lap 3: Tassi spins off at Turn 2 while trying to overtake Comini; Borković makes a mistake and drops to third
Lap 4: The safety car is deployed to recover Tassi’s car
Lap 6: The race resumes, Homola leads from Buri, Borković, Nash, Vernay and Comini
Lap 7: Comini passes Vernay for fifth; Oriola overtakes Afanasyev for seventh
Lap 8: Morbidelli and Sheehan make contact, the American spins; Borković and Nash pass Buri who drops from second to fourth; the rain comes
Lap 9: Borković makes a mistake and drops behind Nash and Buri
Lap 10: Borković retakes third from Buri who is fighting with Comini
Lap 11: Comini missed the braking point at T1 and drops to sixth behind Oriola; Oriola and Buri make contact, the former crashes into the tyre wall
Lap 12: Comini stops in the run-off area at T1; Grachev spins and hits Comini car; the safety car is deployed again
Lap 15: The race resumes once again; Morbidelli moves up to seventh overtaking Fulín and Cerruti; Fulín pits and retires
Lap 16: Buri overtakes Vernay for fifth.
Lap 17: Cerruti stops on the track losing the eighth position
Lap 18: Sheehan makes a mistake and gets stranded onto the grave trap
Lap 19: Borković overtakes Nash for second; Homola wins from Borković, Nash, Afanasyev, Buri and Vernay.
Race 2 – Pepe Oriola returns to victory
Craft-Bamboo Lukoil’s Pepe Oriola ended a three-month drought and returned to victory with a convincing performance that helped him to regain the championship lead, though on equal points with his teammate James Nash.
Dušan Borković and Nash encored their results from the first race and finished second and third once again.
Stefano Comini completed a brilliant recovery to sixth after an incident at the start and a tough but fair fight with the up-and-coming youngsters Attila Tassi and Niklas Mackschin.
Michela Cerruti was finally able to capitalize on the technical improvement made by the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and finished in a well-deserved ninth position .
Race Two Key Facts
Start: Kajaia makes good use of his pole and leads the field ahead of Oriola and Vernay
Lap 1: Once again there is a pile up at T1; Comini and Morbidelli clash and rejoin at the back; Fulín is also involved, then pits and retires. Borković and Vernay make contact, the Serbian loses control and hits Homola but they manage to stay on the track; Vernay retires
Lap 2: Oriola takes the lead from Kajaia; Homola misses the braking point at T1 and drops to sixth; Grachev and Buri make contact, the latter retires
Lap 3: Oriola pulls away; Nash, Afanasyev and Homola have a tough fight over fourth position
Lap 5: Tassi and Mackschin fight for seventh
Lap 7: Borković and Nash are closing in on Kajaia
Lap 8: Comini passes Cerruti for ninth
Lap 9: Kajaia makes a mistake at T1 and loses second place to Borković
Lap 11: Kajaia repeats the mistake at T1 and drops at the back
Lap 12: Oriola controls Borković’s attempt to close the gap; Nash is third, chased by Afanasyev, Homola
Lap 14: Tassi, Comini and Mackschin are in a close battle for sixth
Lap 15: Comini steals sixth from Tassi with a clashing overtaking manoeuvre
Lap 17: Oriola wins from Borković, Nash, Afanasyev and Homola; Cerruti claims ninth
Quotes from the podium finishers
Mat’o Homola (winner Race 1): “I got this first win I was looking for so hard, and I feel very happy about it. It’s a dream come true after seven years in touring car racing. I chose to do the TCR because it is an international series, and I think it was the right choice. The race was quite tough, as it was very wet in some portions of the track and conditions kept changing. On top, there were two safety car periods, which is always stressful, but I managed to control everything. Now I am also well positioned in the championship but things are too tight to make any prediction, I’ll take them step by step.”
Pepe Oriola (winner Race 2): “After a very bad weekend at Salzburgring because of technical problems, it is nice to be spared by bad luck. Still, Race 1 was quite eventful, as I was involved in two race incidents and even touched the barriers. Luckily, I could finish the race and damage was only cosmetic. In Race 2, I could avoid trouble at the start and passed Kajaia after a few laps. Then everything went fine and I focused mostly on saving my tyres in the closing laps. It’s nice to be back in the lead of the standings, although the title race is still very long. I’m on equal points with James, he is very consistent and being both in the same team, we share all the data, so it’s going to be a close fight, and I am sure that Morbidelli and Comini will also be part of it.”
Dušan Borković (second in both races): “Two seconds is a very good result, and most of all, it means I am again able to finish races! I really thought I could win Race 1. I took the lead and was trying to build a gap, but unfortunately I did a mistake in the rain, going wide and losing positions. I was able to charge back, although there was some more sliding, and Race 2 had a relatively similar scenario. I’m still wondering how I survived all that, but the good news is that we are back on the podium and that this time there isn’t additional work for the mechanics.”
James Nash (third in both races): “It was a positive weekend, with two good races, and it’s nice to be on equal points in the standings with Pepe, although he has more wins than I do. That’s what I need to do, try to win more often, but today, given the conditions, I really went for the points, trying to avoid overdoing and doing mistakes.”
TCR Germany: Files pips Zimmerman on last lap
Josh Files claimed his third victory of the season, the first after Target Competition switched from SEAT to Honda cars. The Briton emerged as the winner at the end of a thrilling race that ended with a six-car fight for the lead.
Everything was decided in the last lap, when Files and Bas Schouten pipped Tim Zimmermann who had led for most of the race after Antti Buri has been slowed down by electronics issues. With these results, Files regained the championship lead, five points ahead of Harald Proczyk.
The first lap was full of action, also because it began to rain while the drivers were on slicks; Buri took the lead from Zimmermann, Proczyk, Lautehschlager and Dablander. A mid-field incident involved Schamrl, Leuchter and Eberle; the latter’s car stopped in the middle of the track and forced the race director to deploy the safety car.
Soon after the race resumed, the leader Buri slowed down for a while and rejoined in 11th position. Zimmermann inherited the first place ahead of Files, Kirsch, Proczyk, Halder and Schouten.
The safety car was prompted again on lap 9 after Jordan’s car got stranded onto the gravel trap. When the race resumed Files and Kirsch made contact while fighting for second; Kirsch got the worst of it and retired.
Zimmermann was defending the lead from Files, Proczyk, Schouten, Buri and Halder; the six cars were covered by less than two seconds. On the last lap Files and Schouten managed to overtake Zimmermann and crossed the line in first and second, with Halder and Proczyk following in fourth and fifth.
The TCR International Series will resume on July 2 and 3 at Sochi, Russia, for rounds 13 and 14.
As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as the members of the TCR Talk Facebook Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from the series.
Until next time, all the best!