Originally I started writing this earlier in the year, however there have been reports that a TCR UK series could become a possibility of late, so it seems right to get this out in the open…
As you are all well aware, I love my touring car racing. Whether it be the awesome Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the diversity of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the action of the DTM or the close racing from Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, I love the action that this type of racing provides.
I have been actively following The TCR International Series since its beginning and I’m finding it just as exciting as all of the championships above, however as a fan of Touring Car racing I feel that there is something missing from the TCR International series:
A UK round…
So I’ve decided to put a case forward to explain why I feel there should be a UK round of the TCR International Series…
The fanbase for touring car racing is enormous in the UK. Its quite simple really, we Brits love our Tintop racing and this is evident with the following that the BTCC has and continues to grow with each year. The introduction of the NGTC rules in 2011 and the later introduction of the TBL license system in 2013 has seen a massive growth for the series and the fans love it!
But thats not the half of it. Between 2006 and 2013, the DTM was a regular visitor to Brand Hatch and the crowds flocked in to see the best of the best in German Touring Car racing compete head to head on British soil. With the British drivers such as Jamie Green, Gary Paffett and more fighting for honours on home ground the racing was exciting and close on the small Indy circuit.
Another example is the WTCC. Racing on the Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch between 2006 and 2010, you had the best touring car drivers in the world (often spawned from the BTCC as Champions or upcoming talent) racing hard to tame the historic venue and take victory.
Iconic names such as Yvan Muller, Gabriele Tarquini, Andy Priaulx and Alain Menu were all drivers who cut their teeth in the BTCC before going on to win either WTCC titles or races and yet the crowds flocked to the Kent circuit to see these guys in action as they battled door handle to door handle.
In short, we love our tintop racing and the TCR International Series has the same door to door action as all of these great series… In theory, we Brits would love to watch TCR race at either Silverstone, Brands Hatch or even Donington Park…
The Drivers & Teams…
For those that don’t follow the TCR International Series or the various domestic TCR series around the globe, here’s a heads up:
WE HAVE BRITISH DRIVERS & TEAMS IN TCR EVENTS!!!
We Brits loving supporting the home team and Drivers and there’s few of them out there…
In 2015 when the TCR International series began, Touring car heavyweights Craft-Bamboo Racing entered with three Lukoil backed SEAT Leon’s with Pepe Oriola, Jordi Gene and Sergey Afanasyev. Oriola was a championship challenger all the way to the final round at Macau and was again this year. To add to this, Craft-Bamboo Racing secured the 2016 Teams Title after regular podium finishes.
For 2016 BTCC race winner and WTCC Independents champion James Nash re-joined the team that took him to the 2013 WTCC Independents Title in the iconic Chevrolet Cruze as he acclimatised to the SEAT Leon that the team campaigned in 2015 with new upgrades for the 2016 season
The former BTCC driver took two race wins and was a regular podium visitor to stay in the championship hunt. Nash led the series going into the final round in Macau where contact and damage to his car ruled him out.
However there is another Brit whose been rather successful in 2016 and is looking ot bigger things in 2017: Josh Files.
Files made his debut for the Campos Racing Opel team at Macau in 2015, however he signed for Team Target Competition and dominated the inaugural ADAC TCR Germany series at the wheel of his Honda Civic where he became the first Brit to win a TCR title and the first driver to win the German title. He was also on form at the Finale in Macau as he was a top six challenger both in Qualifying and the races.
So we have drivers and teams to cheer on with more looking towards the TCR scene to take part in such competitive racing!!
Currently almost all of the TCR Domestic Series and the TCR International Series can be viewed online at the TCR TV website as well as Motors TV showing the International races live or delayed on the same day.
With Motorsport now turning to the Internet for its various forms of coverage, this means that Championships no longer have to rely on TV Channels fighting for the rights to show the racing, however you can be sure that if there was a UK round of the TCR International Series, ITV would potentially show a highlights programme of this due to their link with the BTCC as well as showing a highlights package for both the DTM and the WTCC in recent years.
Add to this the ever expanding online reporting for the Championship which includes Motorsport.com, Autosport, TouringCarTimes, TouringCars.net and many more varied sites out there that provide up to date and interesting coverage of the international and Domestioc TCR series (as well as a little known blog called called Tintop Guru).
A weekend of TCR action that doesn’t clash with other major motorsport series (a rare thing these days) would gain a lot of mileage and even more followers for the rest of the season as well as more interest in future seasons.
A UK TCR Series…
I’ve left this one till last as there’s been a lot of talk recently about the idea of a UK based TCR Series potentially being worked on.
The first sound I can hear is the grown of the BTCC fans and I understand why. TCR Genius Marcello Lotti himself said when announcing the formation of Domestic Championships that the BTCC was too strong for a UK Series to work..
Hang on… If thats the case, why are we all talking about it then???
Just a few days ago, BTCC Series Boss Alan Gow stated to Autosport that he saw no threat to the series if a UK based TCR Championship came to fruition. Before that came the report from Autosport of interest being shown in establishing a UK Series.
So, why the Interest? I guide you towards the previous positive points I have raised about having British Drivers and Teams doing so well on both the International stage and Domestic stage as well as one key point: WE LOVE OUT TINTOP RACING!!!
TCR may well be geared towards the hatchback of cars with the VW Golf, SEAT Leon and others being the car of choice, however these are normal road cars that Joe Public can see every day. There also the low cost performance balancing formula in place to make sure that there are only Customers teams developing the cars that they buy from the Customer Support of people like Audi, Honda, VW etc…
No works teams means that this is down to the hard work of the Customer teams and their drivers. A UK Series also offers the chance for teams that don’t have the budget to race in the BTCC a different path to compete in Touring Cars with an arena that already has a large market of cars that are competitive and easy to setup.
This also allows them the chance to compete in other domestic series and to take that knowledge to the International stage if they wish to.
A UK Series could work well being on the Support bill of an established championship like the British GT Championship for example and I fully support any decision to run a UK series. Its also run as a class in most Endurance series across Europe including the VLN series and the 24H Series, so aligning a UK Championship to an Endurance Championship Support bill make sense…
Just to remind you, I love the BTCC and I have since 1988. I’m a lifelong fan as well as enjoying the other major tintops series out there. However TCR is a growing formula that’s working and expanding fast for Touring Car Racing. This could work nicely alongside, not against, the BTCC as a series and I look forward to seeing what comes of this progress.
So, I’ve built a positive case here.
Why? I hear you ask…
Well because there are the negatives to this as well. With the BTCC being such a strong series, there is the possibility that numbers for a UK TCR series would come up short and mean that this could all end as quickly as the speculation began.
Another must is a need for the cars required for a UK series to prosper. Whilst Europe has many series now in action and its not difficult to travel to compete in any of these or for sold TCR cars to be delivered, there needs to be the market for this to work. The cars are sold at capped prices and need to be made available to anyone looking to compete.
There is a genius solution to this at work already. The TCR International Series has a marketplace online already where cars and parts can be sold and bought meaning that access is already there.
In short a UK Series can work as could a UK round of TCR. Germany has both the DTM and the ADAC TCR Germany series and both of these championship have managed to work alongside each other with popular crowds following the action. Earlier this week it was reported that the German TCR Series could see a capacity grid of 32 cars! So this proves that TCR can work in the UK as well alongside a major domestic Tintop series.
Whats needed is time, effort, enthusiasm and patience to get this off the ground. I for one look forward to watching and following a UK TCR Series as well as enjoying the various Tintop series I follow.
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!