2017 TCR Europe Trophy: Adria

TCR drivers from all over Europe are bound for Adria

The 2017 TCR Europe Trophy recently took place at the Adria International Raceway in Italy. In a change in format from 2016 where competitors had to race in events taking place over several Domestic TCR Series race weekends, 2017 would be a dedicated one off weekend.

Drivers who have raced in the various TCR series and championships all over Europe were eligible to take part in the Italian race meeting and those who entered were allocated Pre-Qualifying points based on the number of TCR appearances they have made during the season.

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---Race 1 Josh Files leads_03

Seven brands represented in the 2017 TCR Europe Trophy

The Adria International Raceway welcomed drivers and teams coming from no less than nine different series, whilst eight brands of car manufacturers were represented:

Alfa Romeo, Audi, Honda, Hyundai, Peugeot, SEAT and Volkswagen.

Files and Altoè pair up at Target Competition

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Target Competition fielded the strong duo of Josh Files and Giacomo Altoè at the wheel of two Honda Civic cars.

Files was aiming for a third TCR title in the current season after winning both the Middle East and Germany crowns (the latter for the second consecutive year), while his 17-year old teammate Altoè has established himself as one of the most competitive young drivers with brilliant results in the International, Benelux and Italian series.

One Peugeot 308 for Aurélien Comte

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Several weeks ago at Le Castellet, Peugeot Sport showed for the first time the new 308 TCR that will be racing from next year. However, even without the full TCR kit, the Peugeot 308 Racing Cup car has already won TCR races in the Benelux and 24H series.

The twisty circuit of Adria suited the French car that was in the experienced hands of Aurélien Comte, who classified fifth in the TCR Benelux with three race victories.

Buri and Kangas come from the North

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Fellow Finns Antti Buri (Audi RS3 LMS) and Olli Kangas (SEAT León) raced under the banner of LMS Racing. Buri comes fresh from a successful campaign in TCR Germany that saw him claiming one race victory at the Nürburgring and finishing a brilliant eighth in the Drivers’ championship.

Far less experienced than his teammate, Kangas has competed in the maiden season of TCR Scandinavia. Together, they have won the 12 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, final round of the 24H Touring Car Endurance series a few weeks ago.

A Russian duo for Innocenti-AMG Motorsport

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TCR Russia competitors Lev Tolkachev and Denis Grigoriev raced in two SEAT León DSG cars run by the Innocenti-AMG Motorsport team.

Grigoriev was classified tenth in the Russian series, claiming his maiden TCR victory in Race 1 at the Smolensk Ring; his teammate Tolkachev ranked 13th in the final standings.

Engstler Motorsport enters the youngest team

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The age of the two drivers entered by the Liqui Moly Team Engstler adds up to just 38 years. Luca Engstler (17) and Florian Thoma (21) form the youngest team that competed for the TCR Europe Trophy.

And yet, they have already shown their potential. After winning his maiden touring car race at Dubai in the TCR Middle East series, Engstler was crowned Junior champion of TCR Germany. Also a rookie in touring cars, his Swiss teammate Thoma made a sensational debut in TCR Germany, winning the second race in the season’s opener at Oschersleben. Engstler and Thoma will race two Volkswagen Golf GTI cars.

An Alfa Romeo Giulietta for Luigi Ferrara

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Italy’s V-Action Racing Team will run a Romeo Ferraris-built Alfa Romeo Giulietta for Luigi Ferrara.

The 35-year old from Bari is an experienced driver who has already had different occasions of sitting at the wheel of TCR cars. Ferrara has driven the V-Action Giulietta twice this year, in the German and the Italian series (at Hockenheim and Monza respectively), showing the potential of the Italian car.

TCR Ibérico champion joins with a Volkswagen

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Previous to the TCR Europe Trophy, Francisco Abreu was crowned the first champion in the TCR Ibérico series. Winning two of the four races of the final event at Portimão in the Team Novadriver Volkswagen Golf GTI cars, Abreu was able to close the gap from the previous leader Francisco Mora to clinch the title. He also finished second in TCR Portugal behind Mora.

Team WRT with Maxime Potty’s VW Golf

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While Team WRT is in the best position to win a second consecutive TCR International Series title in conjunction with Leopard Racing, the Belgian outfit is also one of the top seeds in the TCR Europe Trophy.

The young Belgian Maxime Potty will be at the wheel of the team’s single Volkswagen Golf GTI at Adria. Last weekend at Assen, Potty won the final race of TCR Benelux, securing third place in the championship standings.

Bulgaria’s Plamen Kralev to race his Audi

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Bulgarian Touring Car specialist Plamen Kralev will compete in the TCR Europe Trophy with his Kraf Racing Audi RS3 LMS car.

Kralev, who switched to touring car racing three years ago after several season in GT and Formula 2, has successfully taken part in both TCR Italy and the FIA European Touring Car Cup with his Audi, ranking fifth and ninth in the two series respectively.

Hyundai will be ‘transparent’

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The Hyundai i30 N has been accepted to take part in the TCR Europe Trophy under temporary homologation form.

Therefore they were ‘transparent’ as far as the race results are concerned.
BRC Racing Team ran the Hyundai that will be driven by Touring Car legend Gabriele Tarquini who only a few weeks ago gave the Korean car its first victory on its maiden appearance, in the TCR International Series at Zehjiang.

A Special Trophy for Drivers in DSG Cars & Late arrivals add to the TCR Europe Trophy…

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As well as the drivers already announced ahead of the weekends activities, several more appeared from Practice onwards at Adria. Included in the late entries were TCR Italy star Kevin Giacon in his unmissable Opel Astra whilst others were Daniele Cappellari, Giovanni Altoè, Sandro Pelatti, Giovanni Berton and Ermanno Dionisio.

Seven cars out of the 20 entries are fitted with a DSG normal-production gearbox.They are three SEAT León (Daniele Cappellari’s, Denis Grigoriev’s and Lev Tolkachev’s), two Volkswagen Golf (Giovanni Altoè’s and Sandro Pelatti’s) and two Audi RS3 LMS

(Giovanni Berton’s and Ermanno Dionisio’s).They will also competed for special DSG Trophies that will be presented by the Adria International Raceway during a dedicated podium ceremony after Sunday’s second race.

Tarquini sets pole in the Hyundai But Files scores the points with his Honda

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Gabriele Tarquini claimed pole position for the TCR Europe Trophy at Adria International Raceway. At the wheel of his BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N, the Italian driver emerged as the fastest in both, Q1 and Q2, posting a best lap of 1:19.341 that no one was able to match.

However, as the Hyundai was running with a temporary homologation document and therefore it was transparent as far as point scoring is concerned, the five points for the pole position were awarded to Josh Files of Target Competition. The Briton qualified his Honda Civic as second fastest with a lap of 1:19.518, only two tenths behind Tarquini and three tenths ahead of his teammate Giacomo Altoè (1:19.815).

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The other drivers remained above the 1:20 mark, with Luca Engstler (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf), Luigi Ferrara (V-Action Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta) and Maxime Potty (Team WRT Volkswagen Golf) filling the positions between four and six. The three of them were covered by only one tenth of a second.

Antti Buri (LMS Racing) qualified the fastest Audi in seventh, ahead of Francisco Abreu (Team Novadriver Volkswagen) and Aurélien Comte (DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308).
The latter will share the front row of the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2 with Giovanni Altoè who qualified tenth in his Volkswagen and will start from the pole position.

Q1 – Tarquini is faster than Potty

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Gabriele Tarquini set the pace in Q1, posting the fastest lap of 1:19.923 after ten minutes of the half-an-hour period. The former world champion was the only driver capable to break the 1:20 wall and second fastest was Maxime Potty (1:20.182).

Target Competition’s teammates Giacomo Altoè (1:20.287) and Josh Files (1:20.316) placed themselves in third and fourth, with the young Italian capable of a improving significantly on his last lap. Luigi Ferrara clocked a brilliant fifth fastest lap of 1:20.535, followed by Antti Buri (1:20.672), Luca Engstler (1:20.679) and Aurélien Comte (1:20.832).
As usual there was drama for securing the last spots among the top-twelve.

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Kevin Giacon managed to post the 12th fastest lap just under the chequered flag, demoting Francisco Abreu down to 13th. However, the Italian had his last lap disallowed for trespassing the track limits and the Portuguese regained the last place in Q2.

The following drivers qualified for Q2: Tarquini, Potty, Giacomo Altoè, Files, Ferrara, Buri, Engstler, Comte, Thoma, Giovanni Altoè, Kralev and Abreu

Q2 – Tarquini and Files are the fastest

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Giacomo Altoè was the first to post a valid lap time of 1:20.038, with Luca Engstler second fastest in 1:20.126.

Gabriele Tarquini aborted his first attempt, but on the second one, he was clocked at 1:19.341 that was fast enough to claim the pole position, as the other drivers improved but not enough to beat him.

Eventually, Josh Files (1:19.518) and Giacomo Altoè (1:19.815) secured second and third places on the grid for Race 1, ahead of Luca Engstler (1:20.126) and Luigi Ferrara (1:20.229).

Drivers’ quotes after the Qualifying

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Gabriele Tarquini (pole position): “I’m very pleased because this car is like a small child growing up to me and now it seems he is ready to go to university in 6 months! It was a very close Qualifying and the gaps are very small, plus we’ve never used the Yokohama tyres before. We worked on the set-up a lot because the car is used to running on other compounds.”

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Josh Files (2nd fastest): “I’m really happy with the performance of the car, we worked very hard yesterday. We managed to save a lot of tyres throughout the free practice sessions as a result, so I could actually have two runs on new tyres in Q2, which was really important for that final lap. I couldn’t have beaten Tarquini, but I could have matched him had I not been held up, so I’m happy!”

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Giacomo Altoè (3rd fastest): “It was quite good for me in qualifying, my aim was for pole position but I didn’t manage it. I’m proud because I was only slower than Josh [Files] by about 3 tenths, so it was good because Josh is a very good benchmark for me. The car is fast but not easy to drive, so I’m still getting used to it.”

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Luca Engstler (4th fastest): “I’m really happy about this qualifying. My goal was to be the fastest Volkswagen Group car and I achieved it, so I’m quite satisfied. Now it will be maximum attack to score points tomorrow and not forgetting that we have a second race, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

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Giovanni Altoè (fastest of the DSG cars): “I’m happy with my lap but I know we could have done better, although I do prefer faster tracks. You can see the difference between the DSG and sequential gearbox cars on the straights. I think the Golf DSG is a very nice car to drive and very competitive in the corners. It’s also a little bit easier to work, so I think it’s a good compromise between a race car and a Cup car.”

Comte wins the TCR Europe Trophy in a Peugeot 308 as Files and Tarquini share race victories…

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The TCR Europe Trophy at the Adria International Raceway delivered an unexpected result, as Aurélien Comte was able to grab the title at the wheel of his DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308, the smallest car in the field with its 1.6 litre engine and standard bodywork.

Comte did not cross the line first in any of the two races that were won by Josh Files (Target Competion Honda Civic) and Gabriele Tarquini (BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N).

Yet the young Frenchman benefited from the fact that Tarquini was not allowed to score points – because his car is still racing under a temporary homologation form – and that Files took what seemed to be an unnecessary risk in Race 2, which resulted in a penalty.

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---53 Sandro Pelatti_01

However, Comte was a worthy winner as he led the second race until halfway before surrendering to Tarquini and then he was able to keep Giacomo Altoè (Target Competition Honda Civic) at bay until the chequered flag.

They finished on equal points, but Comte was awarded the title thanks to his better results, while Files was classified third in the Trophy, only two points behind Comte and Altoè.

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---21 Giacomo Altoè_01

The Teams’ Trophy went to Target Competition; DG Sport Compétition was placed second, and is worth remembering that the Belgian outfit had already won last year’s TCR Europe Trophy with Pierre-Yves Corthals in an Opel Astra.

The second race delivered a thrilling show, with six drivers involved in a close battle for the lead. And – most important – they were at the wheel of cars from five different brands: Hyundai, Peugeot, Honda, Audi and Volkswagen.

Race 1 – Files wins from Tarquini and Altoè

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Josh Files took a great victory in Race 1 in the Target Competition Honda Civic; the Briton pipped pole sitter Gabriele Tarquini at the start and led from lights-to-flag. Tarquini was chasing him for most of the race, even knocking on the Honda’s rear bumper, but in the final laps the Hyundai driver lost contact from the leader and had to defend the second position from Files’ teammate Giacomo Altoè.

“I had a fantastic car. I took a great start and was able to keep Tarquini at bay. The old guy is still very quick and tough! He also hit me a few times,” said Files.

Aurélien Comte drove his Peugeot 308 home in fourth place, ahead of Antti Buri’s Audi that was closely followed by Maxime Potty’s Volkswagen Golf.

2017-2017 Adria Race 1---16 Luigi Ferrara_04

Luigi Ferrara kept the fourth position in the first half of the race in the V-Action Alfa Romeo Giulietta, but he was dropped by a drive-through penalty. “I don’t understand it, actually I was hit by Buri and sent wide,” complained the Italian.

Luca Engstler’s hope vanished because of a shifting problem that prevented him from taking a good start and eventually forced him back to the pits. Giovanni Altoè won the DSG class in his Volkswagen Golf ahead of Sandro Pelatti in a similar car.

Race 2 – Tarquini wins, but Comte is the champion

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---30 Gabriele Tarquini_03

In a breathtaking second race, Gabriele Tarquini claimed victory at the wheel of his BRC Racing Hyundai i30 N, but Aurélien Comte in the Peugeot 308 finished second and scored the 25 points for the TCR Europe Trophy.

This was enough for him to grab the European title.

Starting from tenth of the reverse grid, Tarquini put in a great show to recover and managed to take the lead in the ninth of the 20 laps. It was not an easy task, because the fight for the lead saw a close battle between Comte, Antti Buri (LMS Racing Audi) and Maxime Potty (WRT Volkswagen), while the Target Competition duo of Josh Files and Giacomo Altoè was chasing the Hyundai.

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Eventually, Tarquini used all his experience to overtake Comte, while Files took a risk to pass Potty and Buri, which he paid dearly. In fact, he was given a penalty that spoiled his chances of winning the trophy.

With Tarquini well ahead, Comte and Giacomo Altoè had a close fight for the second place that was worth the title. They finished in the order and on equal points, but Comte was crowned the champion for the better results (third and first, against Altoè’s two second places).

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---52 Giovanni Altoè_02

Giovanni Altoè took a second victory in the DSG class and won the special trophy, while Target Competition won the Teams’ Trophy.

Drivers’ quotes after the two races

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Aurélien Comte (1st in the TCR Europe): “The car is still lacking something in terms of performance, but it has really good race pace so I was not surprised to have been running at the front in the race. I had planned to make the best start I could and create a gap at the front. It was quite difficult at the end of the race to keep Giacomo Altoè behind, but in the end everything was OK and we took the title.”

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Giacomo Altoè (2nd in the TCR Europe): “I’m very happy with the result, although I am also a little bit disappointed too. As Aurélien and I finished on the same points, but he won the race so he became the champion. It was a really tough second race and I have to overtake a lot of cars, but at the same time I didn’t want to take too many risks. Even so, it was still a good race for me. I asked the team on the radio about the points and they said that I was leading, so I could stay in 2nd place. If I’d known, I could have tried to overtake.”

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Josh Files (3rd in TCR Europe and winner of Race 1): “I believe my move at Turn 1 in Race 2 was a calculated risk. I actually made the apex, but it was just unfortunate that Antti Buri turned in. But, this is motorsport – I didn’t come here to finish 2nd and just score points. I came here to win races. My goal was to get past Comte, which I did and then the team told me I had a drive through penalty, because I wanted to hunt down Tarquini for the win. I remember meeting Gabriele when I was three years old, in 1994 when he was racing in the BTCC. Not only did I get to race against him but also beat him in Race 1, so overall I’m very happy with the weekend.”

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---10 Antti Buri_02

Gabriele Tarquini (winner of Race 2): “It wasn’t a bad weekend for us at all! I enjoyed it a lot and had the chance to experience lots of different types of tyres. It was a tough race, the Honda is very fast car and they did a great job to make the best starts. Even if I had a small problem, I still found it pretty tough to overtake Files. I tried to push as hard as possible during the race, but without any mistake from him it was impossible for me to overtake in Race 1. The second race was much more fun because by starting 10th, I had some great fights and overtaking with the other cars.  Even though it wasn’t easy to take the win, I definitely enjoyed it.”

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---Giovanni Altoè_Podium DSG

Giovanni Altoè (1st in the DSG class): “I think I made a very good start in the race. For me it was the first time I’ve raced and started a TCR car, so I didn’t know how to do it properly. Fortunately I was more consistent in the race, I managed to look after my tyres better and make the move for the lead. I’m very happy to finish so well with a lot of the sequential gearbox cars behind me, so it was very nice for me to score a good result.”

2017-2017 Adria Race 2---39 Florian Thoma_03

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of both the TCR Talk International Facebook Group and the TCR Talk UK Facebook Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from The TCR International Series, Domestic Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

Please also keep an eye out as I share my own thoughts in another post due soon on how the 2017 TCR Europe Trophy panned out and including the talking points from the weekend…

Please note that all images are used courtesy of WSC/TCR International Series and Domestic TCR Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

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Mazda MX-5 SuperCup Announced as 2nd TCR UK Support Series for 2018…

The BRSCC have announced today that the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup will be the second series to join the support bill for the 2018 TCR UK Series.

Back in September, the first series announced on the Support Bill was the Britcover National Formula Ford 1600 Championship with Avon Tyres and with the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup joining them, both support series will gain extra crowds with the UK based TCR Series predicted to attract large crowds of fans in its first year of competition.

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The BRSCC have decided to place the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup as a permanent fixture within a high-profile motorsport paddock, ensuring that a competitive sports car element would feature amongst a significant national championship support package.

Therefore, it has been deemed a perfect choice to fill in a place alongside TCR UK, a cost-effective touring car formula that has already established itself around the world with several regional and national series as well as the top-line TCR International Series.

For 2018, the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup will take on the same calendar that TCR UK has already unveiled and with this in mind, The profile of the SuperCup is only set to get bigger and better as it is set to gain further recognition within club motorsport and sports car racing circles.

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Mandy Andrew, Championship Co-ordinator for the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 SuperCup explained the decision further to add the series to the high profile support bill.

This is a fantastic achievement and an honour for the MX-5 SuperCup to be supporting the new TCR UK Championship for 2018.  We have our committed drivers, who have created full grids through the season and display such close, competitive racing to thank for this recognition. I’m very proud of everything we’ve achieved together as a championship and have every confidence that the SuperCup will go on to reach new heights in 2018. I would like to say thank you to the BRSCC for their support, and both I and the SuperCup paddock are greatly looking forward to next season already.

Dominic Ostrowski, BRSCC Competitions Manager is excited to see how the series will grow in 2018.

This year’s Mazda MX-5 SuperCup has been incredibly successful. The numbers have continued to grow over the 2017 season with more and more new drivers interested in trying their hand at mastering the Mk3 Mazda MX-5. We feel that the SuperCup is a perfect addition to the TCR UK package, giving many of our current and prospective drivers a real chance to shine in front of a high-profile audience at some of the UK’s finest circuits. We’re very excited to see what the SuperCup will produce in 2018, and we’re very confident that it will do itself justice and continue to prosper.

2017-2017 Buriram Race 1---Start Race1_7 (1)

The TCR UK Series, joined by both the Britcover National Formula Ford 1600 Championship with Avon Tyres and the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup, will get underway at Silverstone on the National Circuit over the weekend of March 31st – April 1st next year.

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of both the TCR Talk International Facebook Group and the new TCR Talk UK Facebook Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from The TCR International Series, Domestic Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Please note that all images are used in this article are courtesy of WSC/TCR International Series and Jon Elsey, care of the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2017 TCR International Series in China: The Guru’s Thoughts…

So I’m trying something new with the blog after recent positive feedback where I share my own thoughts about recent activities and talking points that have taken risen during a TCR International Series event.

I started this already during my earlier post and will continue to expand on those subjects and others…

Remember that these are my own thoughts about the weekend and as you well know, everyone is entitles to their own thoughts about the racing…

You were warned…

The Oriola Two-Step…

I have to say that as a fan, follower and blogger of the TCR International Series, that I disagreed with the lack of stewards decisions made in light of some of the overtaking that took place at Zhejiang and the after results of said overtakes.

I agree that Touring Car Racing always has contact and always will do, however the manner that Pepe Oriola was demoted on lap 12 during Race One was in my opinion, punishable. Vernay clearly used the “Nudge” technique to assist his pass on Oriola and this saw the Spaniard run off the road on the Start/Finish straight.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Oriola quite rightly moved over to defend his position from Morbidelli on the run to the first turn, however contact again ensued and Oriola into a slid going into the first turn. The fact there was no further action taken sets a precedent and one I think we will see more of in Dubai where the last two races of the year will take place.

To add to that, expect to see a lot of drivers going for glory in these last two races as they look to end their season on a high note.

Another example of poor overtaking was the determination of Rob Huff in race two. Whilst battling for position at the top of the circuit, Huff made contact with David Kajaia and this saw the Alfa Romeo driver retire two corners later with a damaged right rear wheel. Huff then followed this up with a very elbows out pass on Morbidelli, which saw the Italian sideways and defending from Audi driver Vervisch.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Had this been a different tintop series (There’s plenty out there to choose from….) I’m pretty certain that there would have been a penalty given, however as this was Huffs last TCR race of the year, there’s also the “Going out in style” aspect to consider.

Like I said, I’m all for exciting passes but I’m also for fair passing as well that doesn’t see the other driver retire or lose out on several positions because of that contact and pass. That’s often causes fans to give their own opinion…

Oh…

The Hyundai’s are coming!!!

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The big news coming into the weekend were the Hyundai’s making their debut and I think you’ll agree that they have made their point. Whilst a lot of the development has been done with Gabriele Tarquini involved, adding Alain Menu to the driver lineup for the last two events was inspired.

Until the BoP was invoked for Race Two, both drivers had very good speed and pace and were able to showcase this in Race One very convincingly by moving forward very quickly from 13th and 14th on the grid respectively. Even with an extra 40kgs and 5% less horsepower imposed on them for the second race, Tarquini and Menu still powered their way forward to both finish inside the top six.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Whilst the KIA effort, the first new car to be entered earlier this season, has been backed by STARD and developed by Zengo Motorsport, the car didn’t light up the headlines when it debuted in Hungary. Whilst more development is underway for the KIA for 2018, the Hyundai came out with all guns blazing and despite some overheating issues and an oil issue, was able to hold its own even with BoP added to the car.

I for one expect to see quite a few of these out in action next year in both Domestic and the International series. I can already hear the phone of Andrea Adamo, Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager, ringing off the hook with Sales for 2018…

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017

(Please don’t take my comments about the KIA as negative. A lot of hard work from Manfred Stohl’s outfit has gone in the car and you can bet there will be a big step in performance in 2018 with more cars expected in competition).

Those who lost out in China…

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I feel some of the drivers who suffered a bad weekend need a mention. I include Stefano Comini, Mato Homola amongst quite a few. Comini is in the title hunt and now looks increasingly as if he will have to concede his reign as Champion to rival Vernay, but you can bet the Swiss driver wont give up without a fight.

Comini has won the TCR International Title in both a SEAT and a VW, however the last third of the season seems to have gone against the Audi. But lets not forget, the RS3 LMS TCR is in its first season. Whilst the title will be difficult you can never count out Stefano Comini.

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You can be rest assured that whilst the Swiss driver now has an outside chance of retaining his title, Comini and Comtoyou Racing will be out to try and do the best that they can in Dubai. If the track layout is not a factor then both man and machine will be in the hunt for wins whilst Vernay and Tassi battle it out got the crown.

Denis Dupont made his TCR International Series debut at Zhejiang in a SEAT run by Comtoyou Racing with backing from the RACB. The Belgian driver has been a front runner in in the TCR Benelux Series and the step up seems to have been a logical one. With the Belgian outfit looking after his SEAT along with the two Audi’s, you could expect a good showing at his first attempt.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

However Dupont had what you could call a difficult start to his debut with SEAT Leon damaged in FP1 before repairs taking place to get the car out again for FP2. Dupont qualified a respectable 11th on his debut, having made it through from Q1 into Q2 and just missing out on the reverse pole position spot for Race Two. Unfortunately contact with Alain Menu at the start of Race One saw Dupont retire on the spot and the damage was as such that he wouldn’t be able to start Race Two.

Thankfully the Belgian driver will be back in action in Dubai where he will put the lessons learned in Zhejiang to good practice as he looks to go up against the best in TCR for a second weekend. You can expect him to be a little more robust when racing up against the Hyundai’s during both of the final race weekend as well as racing others hard whilst he stakes a claim for a full time ride in 2018.

As I’ve already made clear, I’m a big Vauxhall/Opel Touring car fan and it pains me to see Mato Homola and the DG Sport Competition suffering as they did again in China. The Opel Astra is the only full time entry in 2017 not to have taken a win but the fact that Homola has taken three pole positions says that the speed is there.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

However, the recent BoP adjustment that saw the Astra gain weight seemed to make little sense. I feel that this may have been put in place due to the recent wins of Harald Proczyk in the ADAC TCR Germany finale and also the fine performance of the Astra at the hands of Kissling Motorsport in the last two VLN endurance events.

I’m looking into clarification for this but I believe that the performances worldwide of a car can affect how the BoP is adjusted and I also believe that this includes Endurance events as well. Don’t forget that the TCR Classes are growing in Endurance racing and offering a competitive alternative to those who cant afford GT class machinery.

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Once I have clarification, I’ll update this post.

Homola again suffered engine issues during Qualifying and then a puncture during the first race, however whilst the decision to add weight to the Opel Astra TCR added to what was a difficult weekend, there is still hope for both driver and team.

Both the Sloviakian and DG Sport Competition have seen standout weekends and improved pace during the season and indeed since the cars debut back in Bahrain last year. They will be out to end the season on a high in Dubai and I suspect they will be in the hunt for glory once more.

Finally… TCR EUROPE TROPHY

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Before the series finale for the 2017 TCR International Series takes place, there is another major TCR title up for grabs and one I suggest you watch:

The 2017 TCR Europe Trophy.

The best of the Domestic European TCR series drivers will go up against each other to win the prestigious TCR Europe Trophy which takes place at the Adria International Raceway in Italy on 29th October. The format is different to the 2016 Trophy where a driver had to compete in up to seven different events across the European series.

Motorsports / ADAC TCR, 5. Event 2016, Nürburgring, GER

Belgain driver Pierre Yves-Corthals took the win in the DG Sport Competition Opel Astra with Jordi Oriola often joining him in the second car. I for one would love to see the younger Oriola back in a competitve TCR car as he is bloody fast…

This years event is as close as you’ll get to seeing something similar to the Touring Car World Cup events that took place back in the middle 1990’s and I’m sure its going to be a fantastic event to witness. The chance in format for 2017 will see Practice, Qualifying and Race takes place over the same weekend, with the driver scoring the highest points being declared the winner.

Now take into account that drivers from any European TCR Series are eligible and with the recent change in rules that drivers who did took part in at least one TCR event during the 2017 season are eligible for the 2017 TCR European Trophy.

Motorsports / TCR, 7. Event 2016, Hockenheim, GER

Add to this that drivers classified outside of the first ten positions of the 2017 TCR International Series, as per 30 September 2017, are eligible as well and you have what looks to be a phenomenal event ahead.

Consider that the best from such series as TCR Baltic, TCR Benelux, TCR Germany, TCR Ibérico, TCR Italy, TCR Portugal, TCR Russia, TCR Scandinavia, TCR Spain, 24h Series, 24H TCE Series, VLN and you have a stellar array of drivers and teams eligible.

Add in the following names who are also eligible…

Giacomo Altoè
Frédéric Vervisch
Norbert Michelisz
Rob Huff
Daniel Lloyd
Ferenc Ficza
Benjamin Lessennes
Aurélien Panis
Jens Reno Møller
Thomas Jäger
Pierre-Yves Corthals
Edouard Mondron
Jaap van Lagen
Duncan Ende
Tom Coronel
Stian Paulsen
Danny Kroes
Kantadhee Kusiri

And the biggest TCR event of the season gets even bigger.

2016-2016 Zandvoort---Qualifying Race start

This is not one to miss and will nicely fill the gap ahead of the TCR International Series finale. Having covered the TCR Middle East Series and the TCR International Series this year, TCR Europe Trophy will be another event covered by this blog before we head into what will be a very interesting winter for TCR in general with TCR UK starting in 2018.

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of both the TCR Talk International Facebook Group and the new TCR Talk UK Facebook Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from The TCR International Series, Domestic Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

2017-2017 Zhejiang Race 2---28 Aurelien Panis_234

Please note that all images are used courtesy of WSC/TCR International Series and Domestic TCR Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2017 TCR International Series: China

Here’s a TCR Guru roundup of all the action took place during the penultimate weekendof the 2017 TCR International Series at the Zhejiang Circuit in China…

I know I don’t normally add second titles to my blog posts but this time, I feel this is appropriate…

The Hyundai’s are coming!!!

The Hyundai’s are coming!!!

And now back to your normal TCR Guru Blogpost service…

Brand new Chinese racetrack hosts a TCR event

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Three TCR series will share the bill in the first international event ever hosted by the new Zhejiang Circuit.

The track is located in the Kenyan region, near the city of Shaoxing and is 50 km away from the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport that serves Hangzhou, the capital of the Zhejiang Province and one of China’s fastest growing regions in terms of economy and technology.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

The Zhejiang Circuit, conceived by Apex Circuit Design, was inaugurated at the end of last year. With a total length of 3.2 kilometres, its main track has been granted Grade 2 status by the FIA; it includes 16 turns in different angles and direction and has a 22-metre elevation between its lowest and highest points.

The TCR event will feature the TCR International Series and joint races of the TCR Asia and TCR China series.

Tarquini and Menu to drive the new Hyundai i30 N TCR

2017-2017 Zhejiang Friday---33 Alain Menu_27

One of the main features of the TCR International Series event in Zhejiang will be the maiden appearance of the new Hyundai i30 N TCR; this will mark the latest step in the technical development of the Hyundai Motorsport-built car that has already undergone an extensive testing programme.

The two i30 N TCR cars will be run by the Italy-based BRC Racing Team and driven by two very experienced Touring Car aces – the former World, European and British champion Gabriele Tarquini and Alain Menu, twice British champion.

Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Andrea Adamo said: “The debut of the i30 N TCR in the TCR International Series is an important weekend for everyone involved in the project. We feel we have developed a competitive package for the category, but this will be the first time that we can directly compare to other cars in the series.”

“Both the i30 N TCR drivers will be ineligible for points. It is not our intention to get involved in the very close fight at the top of the points’ standings. Instead, at the Zhejiang Circuit we will concentrate on continuing our development work during the race weekend.”

2017-2017 Zhejiang Friday---30 Gabriele Tarquini_16

Tarquini commented: “The Zhejiang Circuit is very different from the tracks in Europe where we have tested. It is a relatively slow layout with lots of technical sections, so we will need to work on the set-up. This is all part of our development work with the car, but also an opportunity to show the competitiveness of our design.”

“These are our targets for the weekend. I expect a small gap to the regular teams and the fact that this is the first time the TCR International Series runs at Zhejiang should keep the action close.”

Alain Menu added: “From the testing I have completed, the i30 N TCR feels to be very strong. The TCR International Series is very competitive, so the weekend at the Zhejiang Circuit will be a real challenge. As a driver the event will be a very good chance to show the performance of our car against the others on the grid.”

“However, we have to consider that our focus during the weekend is to take advantage of the track time to continue to develop the i30 N TCR before the first chassis are delivered to customers.”

The Hyundai cars will run with a temporary homologation form and therefore, will not be eligible to score points.

The final sprint of a four-way battle for the title

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

The penultimate event of the season in China will launch the final sprint in the fight for the TCR International Series titles.

There are four major pretenders to the Drivers’ crown: the 18-year old Hungarian Attila Tassi (M1RA Honda Civic) tops the standings with 179 points, only two more compared to Jean-Karl Vernay (Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI).

The 2015 and 2016 champion Stefano Comini (Comtoyou Racing Audi RS3 LMS) is placed third, with a gap of 14 points from the leader, while Tassi’s teammate Roberto Colciago lies a further 20 points adrift having missed the previous event in Thailand because of medical reasons.

The Italian – who had broken three ribs in a pile up at Oschersleben – has been declared fit to rejoin and is eager to recover. After all, there are still 110 points at stake…
Mathematically speaking, this keeps several other drivers in contention. The best placed of them being Pepe Oriola (110 points) and Dušan Borković (108).

2017-2017 Zhejiang Friday---05 Roberto Colciago_23

Following the races in Buriram, M1RA has built a solid margin of 93 points in the Teams’ classification ahead of Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing (382 against 289), while Leopard Racing is currently third (247 points). However, with 190 points on offer in the two last events, anything is still possible.

The situation is similar in the ‘Model of the Year’ classification that is led by the Honda Civic with 451 points ahead of the Volkswagen Golf GTI (355) and the SEAT León (335).

Success ballast for Tassi, Borković and Altoè

2017-2017 Zhejiang Friday---09 Attila Tassi_6

The previous event in Buriram provided an unusual situation as far as the Success Ballast is concerned.

In fact, two pairs of drivers scored the same amount of points. M1RA teammates Norbert Michelisz and Attila Tassi were the event’s best scorers with 28 points, while Dušan Borković (GE-Force Alfa Romeo Giulietta) and Giacomo Altoè (M1RA) followed with 26 points.

As a result – and considering that Michelisz will hand the Honda Civic car back to Roberto Colciago – Tassi will carry the maximum Success Ballast of 30 kilos at Zhejiang.
The 20 kilos of Success Ballast for the second best scorer will not be allocated, while both Borković and Altoè will have their cars laden by the 10 extra kilos imposed on the third best scorer.

In terms of running weight, this means that Tassi’s Honda will weigh 1335kg (1285kg minimum weight + 30kg Success Ballast + 20kg Balance of Performance adjustment), Borković’s Alfa Romeo 1275kg (1285kg + 10kg SB – 20kg BoP) and Altoè’s Honda 1315 kg (1285kg + 10kg SB + 20kg

TCR Asia and TCR China to run together

2017-TCR Asia - Shanghai 0817---TCRAsia_Shanghai_270817_R2_start_HO_med (1)

The event in Zhejiang will also feature as the final rounds (11 and 12) of TCR Asia and rounds 5 and 6 of the TCR China’s inaugural season.

The two championships will run together in the Free Practice, Qualifying and the two Sprint Races of 30 minutes each. Than TCR China competitors will also take part in the 60-minute Race 3 on Sunday morning.

Just as in the TCR International Series, four drivers are in a close battle for the title. Kantadhee Kusiri from Thailand is the current leader, having scored 150 points in his Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI; he is closely followed by his compatriot Tin Sritrai (Team Thailand Honda Civic) on 139.5 points and his own teammate Diego Moran from Ecuador on 139 points. Malaysia’s Lai Wee Sing (R Engineering Honda Civic) ranks fourth on 129 points, while his compatriot and colleague Abdul Kaathir is fifth with 108.

After the first two events of TCR China, the classification is led by the Hongkongers Sunny Wong and Alex Fung who share a Volkswagen Golf GTI run by TeamWork Motorsport; they have scored 101 points, two more than their compatriot Andy Yan (NewFaster Team Audi RS3 LMS). Yan’s teammate Huang Chu Han from China follows in third position with 93 points.

ZZZ Team enters two Audi cars in the Zhejiang event

2017-2017 Zhejiang Friday---81 Zhendong Zhang_24

The Zhejiang-based ZZZ Team will take part in the TCR International Series at their home circuit.

The Chinese outfit will field a couple of Audi RS3 LMS cars for Tengyi Jiang and Zhendong Zhang, two of the most experienced and successful local Touring Car drivers and teammates also in the China Touring Car Championship with the Shanghai VW 333 Racing.

32-year old Jiang has established himself as one of the top CTCC drivers, claiming several race wins at the wheel of Ford and Volkswagen cars and clinching the Super Production title in 2014. He has already made a one-off appearance in the TCR International Series, at the Shanghai International Circuit in 2015, when he drove a SEAT León for the Craft-Bamboo Team and was classified ninth in the second race.

Zhang, 25 years old, is the reigning CTCC Super Production champion having successfully defended the title won in 2015. Before joining the Volkswagen team in 2012 he had raced for Haima.

Jiang and Zhang are currently ranking third and fourth in the 2017 CTCC Super Cup.
“We are very excited to join the TCR international Series and race at Zhejiang Circuit. It is our very maiden appearance and we have some very competitive racers form China. I believe that the TCR international Series is the ideal platform to show what we can do,” said Dennis Zhang, the team manager of ZZZ.

Denis Dupont to make his debut with Comtoyou Racing

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Only a few days after having raced in the TCR Benelux event at Mettet, Denis Dupont has flown to China to make his maiden appearance in the TCR International Series at the wheel of a SEAT León entered by Comtoyou Racing and supported by the RACB National Team.

The 24-year old Belgian has established himself as one of the top competitors in TCR Benelux in which he shares the RACB National Team SEAT with Sam Dejonghe. They were classified third in the 2016 championship, with two race victories and are currently lying 7th this year, having won the 60-minute Qualifying race at Zolder.

“Racing in the International Series is a project I have worked on for a few months and I’m pleased that, with support from my partners and Comtoyou Racing, I have been given the opportunity to race in China,”
 said Dupont.

“I am very happy to drive a SEAT León, because I know it well. This will help me a lot, as I won’t have the opportunity to test the car I will drive in Zhejiang, and being familiar with the car will let me focus on getting to know the track.”

Rafaël Galiana returns with WestCoast Racing

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

TCR International Series in Asia has become an unmissable appointment for Rafaël Galiana. In fact, for the third consecutive year the French businessman and motorsport enthusiast will join the series for the Chinese round in Zhejiang.

After racing in 2015 and 2016 at the wheel of SEAT León and Honda Civic Cars, this time Galiana will drive a Volkswagen Golf GTI for WestCoast Racing, the same team that entered him last year in the Buriram event. His best result so far was an eighth place in last year’s Race 1 at Macau.

“I’m very happy to drive again in the TCR International Series, especially at Zhejiang, because it is an interesting new circuit. Every year I would like to do more races, but I’m always very busy. I have just delivered a new Grade 1 racetrack in Kuwait that should be inaugurated by the middle of 2018 and now I am working on a few karting circuits in China,”said Galiana who is known as ‘Mr Tecpro’ because of a safety barrier he launched in 2000 after several years of research and development.

The Tecpro barrier has proved to be much more effective than the tyre walls that were used in most of the circuits and now the company collaborates with FIA, FIM, and a number of National Sporting Authorities and works together with racetrack designers and architects.

Rob Huff claims pole ahead of teammate Vernay

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

On his last appearance in the TCR International Series during the current season, Rob Huff claimed his first pole position at the wheel of his Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI.

His teammate Jean-Karl Vernay then provided the icing on the cake by qualifying second, locking out the front row of the grid of Race 1 for the team and Volkswagen. The four points awarded to the second-best qualifier also meant that Vernay reclaimed the leadership in the championship standings with a two-point margin ahead of Attila Tassi.
Pepe Oriola put in a great effort and managed to qualify third in his Lukoil Craft-Bamboo SEAT León.

In an unusual situation, the two fastest drivers in Qualifying will not be at the front of the grid. In fact, Alain Menu and Gabriele Tarquini set the fastest laps in Q1 at a pace that nobody was able to match, but they were not admitted to Q2 because their Hyundai i30 N cars have been accepted with a temporary homologation form, meaning that they are not eligible to score points. They will start both races from 13th and 14th and promise to fight for good results.

Among those who were disappointed by the Qualifying results were Stefano Comini and Mat’o Homola. The reigning champion couldn’t achieve any better than a 16th position that greatly jeopardised his hopes to win a third consecutive title. As for Homola, he couldn’t even try, as an engine failure sidelined him in both Practice 2 and Qualifying.
Frederic Vervisch qualified tenth and so won pole position on the reversed grid for Race 2 alongside Davit Kajaia.

Qualifying 1: Menu and Tarquini are fastest

2017-2017 Zhejiang Saturday---33 Alain Menu_102 (1)

The pairing of Hyundai i30 N cars of Menu and Tarquini set the fastest laps in the first part of the session, the only ones to go under the 1:33 mark. After posting a provisional fastest lap of 1:33.392, Menu improved to 1:32.811 that nobody was able to beat.

Tarquini tried twice and was clocked at 1:32.984 and then 1:32.935 to settle for second position. With the Hyundai cars not eligible to qualify for Q2, the Volkswagen drivers were fighting to be the fastest of the rest of the field. Eventually it was Gianni Morbidelli who set the third best lap (1:33.279) ahead of Vernay (1:33.476) and Huff (1:33.503).

After struggling in Practice, Tassi was able to complete his last lap in 1:33.786 that placed him sixth overall, but fourth among those admitted to Q2.

The following drivers went through to Q2: Morbidelli, Vernay, Huff, Tassi, Colciago, Lloyd, Nash, Oriola, Kajaia, Dupont, Panis, Vervisch.
Among those who failed to make the cut were Borković and Comini.

Qualifying 2: Huff and Vernay secure the front row

2017-2017 Zhejiang Friday---03 Rob Huff_48

Leopard Racing’s Huff and Vernay had a thrilling fight to secure pole position. The Frenchman topped the timesheet with a provisional fastest lap of 1:33.341 but was pipped by his English teammate who improved to 1:33.173 under the chequered flag.
Also on his last lap, Oriola was able to climb to third with a lap of 1:33.486, demoting Morbidelli to fourth (1:33.804). Daniel Lloyd claimed the last qualifying point by posting the fifth fastest lap (1:33.817).

Quotes after the Qualifying Session

Rob Huff (pole position): “It’s the first pole position of the year for the team and myself, so we are very pleased, of course, to take the front row with our two cars. It wouldn’t be so if the Hyundai cars would have been allowed into Q2 and I congratulate them for the impressive show on their debut. The car worked perfectly throughout the sessions and on a track that is tremendously demanding and slippery. It’s almost impossible to avoid any mistake. For tomorrow, we’ll see what strategy we need to apply. Clearly the main objective is to have Jean-Karl and Leopard Racing Team WRT securing the title. For me, it is just a pity that this will be my last TCR event this year.”

Jean-Karl Vernay: “The front row is a terrific result. I did a couple of very fast laps but eventually got beaten by Rob, which at least proved there are no team orders. I now have a 2-point advantage over Atila Tassi and we’ll see what will happen tomorrow, but I stress: we are very competitive and I am very happy.”

Pepe Oriola: “We struggled during all the sessions with the set-up, as the track is very slippery, and we made a lot of set-up changes which are starting to pay off. Tomorrow, I’ll definitely go for a win as I have nothing to lose.”

Alain Menu: “It’s a shame we couldn’t participate in Q2, but those are the rules, and it’s great to be back racing at this level in touring cars. I am still learning the car, as I am a late addition to the project, and frankly, all the credit for the development and testing should be for Hyundai, the team and Gabriele, who have done a terrific job.”

TCR Asia & China – Kusiri claims the TCR Asia title

2017-TCR Asia - Shanghai 0817---TCRAsia_Shanghai_UP3_250817_Kusiri_1_HO_med2

Thai driver Kantadhee Kusiri of Liqui Moly Team Engstler secured the 2017 TCR Asia Drivers’ championship with two cautious races at Zhejiang at the wheel of his Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Kusiri greatly benefited from an engine failure that slowed down his countryman Tin Sritrai during the first race and focused on staying out of troubles to score the points he needed. Race 1 was won by guest drivers Jean-Karl Vernay in a TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen, with Kusiri fourth overall and first of TCR Asia.

Sritrai won the second race, while Andy Yan was second overall and winner of TCR China.

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Vernay dominated the first race, overtaking Sritrai (Team Thailand Honda Civic) at the beginning of the second lap and consistently increasing his leading gap up to 20 seconds. Behind him, NewFaster teammates Yan and Huang Chu Han completed the TCR China podium in their Audi RS3 LMS cars, while Kusiri finished fourth overall and won the TCR Asia.

At the start both the Liqui Moly Team Engstler cars of Kusiri and Diego Moran stalled; Sritrai took the lead but was soon passed by Vernay; Kusiri then dropped from fourth to sixth behind Huang and Sunny Wong (TeamWork Motorsport Volkswagen).

For half of the race, Sritrai held on to the second position, leading TCR Asia, but on lap 10 his pace faded and he lost two places to Eric Kwong and Abdul Kaathir. On lap 16, Wong lost a wheel and the fourth position in TCR China. He pitted, rejoined and eventually was classified eighth.

Sritrai took a superb victory in the second race, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Kusiri from securing the title. Sritrai made a brilliant start from second on the grid and powered past Kusiri; Yan also passed Moran to set up a four-way fight for the podium places that lasted the entire race.

With victory the only option for Sritrai, he held his nerve while others behind him were swapping places. Kusiri lost second when he was passed by Yan’s Audi on lap 8 and then was passed for third place by Moran on lap 14. Kusiri knew that the title was within reach and only had to stay out of trouble for the remainder of the race.

Moran then made several efforts to pass Yan for second but each time was thwarted, even nosing ahead briefly on lap 15 only to lose the position again when he ran wide at the next corner.

That was how it finished, with Sritrai taking the chequered flag 2.4 seconds clear of Yan, who finished as the best TCR China entrant. Moran was a frustrated third.

Vernay moves closer to the title as Tarquini and Huff share race victories

2017-2017 Zhejiang Friday---30 Gabriele Tarquini_56

The first TCR International Series event at the new Zhejiang Circuit provided two exciting races that may have changed the course of the championship before the final race meeting at Dubai.

As far as the title fight is concerned, Leopard Racing’s Jean-Karl Vernay has moved a few steps closer to being crowned the successor of his former teammate Stefano Comini. The Frenchman has scored the maximum of points in Race 1 and only one point in Race 2, but as his closest rival Attila Tassi’s tally was limited to 7 points, he has stretched the leading margin to 21.

As for the other contenders – Stefano Comini and Roberto Colciago – they are now 42 and 46 points adrift respectively, meaning that their hopes have nearly completely vanished when 55 points are still on offer.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Should Vernay be successful in his quest for the crown, he must concede some credit to Rob Huff, who placed himself at the team’s service with great professionalism. And Huffy was rewarded today by a splendid victory in Race 2, on his final appearance in the current season.

But, arguably, the talk of the town for the weekend was the debut of the two Hyundai i30 N TCR cars run by BRC Racing and driven by touring car legends Gabriele Tarquini and Alain Menu. And what a debut it was! Fastest in qualifying, the two Korean cars were relegated to 13th and 14th on the grid for both races because they had been accepted under a temporary homologation form.

Despite this, they put on a great show and Tarquini claimed an impressive victory in Race 1 that immediately resulted in a change of BoP before the second race: 40 kilos added to the minimum weight and a power reduction to 95%.

In any case, it is clear that a new and competitive brand has joined TCR, adding further spice to a consistent growth in quality that was also proved by the fact that today’s race victories were shared by two World Champions.

Race 1 – Hyundai wins maiden race with Tarquini

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Gabriele Tarquini put in an impressive performance at the Zhejiang Circuit, recovering from starting 14th on the grid to lead under the chequered flag and so giving the Hyundai i30 N TCR a victory in its maiden race in the International Series.

However, as the Korean car has been accepted under a temporary homologation form, the 25 championship points were awarded to Jean-Karl Vernay who finished second in the Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI. The Frenchman was followed by two other Volkswagen drivers: his own teammate Rob Huff and WestCoast Racing’s Gianni Morbidelli.

Pepe Oriola salvaged fifth place after having led for most of the race and having been involved in a couple of controversial collisions with Vernay and Morbidelli.
The results helped Vernay to stretch his leadership in the Drivers’ championship to 26 points ahead of M1RA’s Attila Tassi who finished 11th (and 10th of the scorers) after having been pushed wide after the start.

RACE ONE:

Grid: Homola and Jiang are at the back of the grid following an engine change and grid penalty for a parc fermé infringement respectively

Start: Huff makes a poor start from pole, Oriola squeezes between Huff and Vernay to take the lead; Menu hits Dupont and sends him crashing into the pit wall

2017-2017 Zhejiang Race 1---Start Race1_26

Lap 1: Tassi is pushed wide at Turn 2; Oriola leads from Vernay, Morbidelli, Vervisch and Huff; Tarquini overtakes Lloyd for sixth; Borković stops with a pierced radiator
Lap 2: Tarquini overtakes Huff and Vervisch moving up to fourth
Lap 3: Tarquini overtakes Morbidelli for third; Lloyd pits and retires after a contact
Lap 4: Huff overtakes Morbidelli for fourth; Menu overtakes Vervisch for sixth

2017-2017 Zhejiang Race 1---03 Rob Huff_144

Lap 5: Menu is given a drive-through penalty for the collision at the start
Lap 6: Tarquini overtakes Vernay for second
Lap 7: Zhang and Homola make contact
Lap 9: Oriola is chased by Tarquini, Vernay and Huff
Lap 11: Tarquini overtakes Oriola for the the lead
Lap 12: Vernay and Oriola make contact, Oriola drops to fourth behind Vernay and Huff

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Lap 13: Oriola and Morbidelli clash on the pit straight, Morbidelli moves up to fourth
Lap 14: Kajaia overtakes Nash for eighth
Lap 19: Tarquini wins the race, but Vernay, Huff and Morbidelli score the points for the top three positions in the championship.

Race 2 – Huff wins the toughest race of the season

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Rob Huff leaves the current season of the TCR International Series on a high note. The former World Champion claimed victory at Zhejiang Circuit in a race that will be remembered as one of the toughest ever in Touring Car competitions.

The drivers delivered close and thrilling battles for every position and – rather exceptionally – all these clashes, contacts, pushing and paint-swapping did not result in major incidents. All the drivers were able to keep on racing, demonstrating great skill in handling their battered cars.

Gianni Morbidelli finished the race in second position, overtaking James Nash on the last lap. Nash had bravely led most of the race in his SEAT before being forced to concede to the fastest Volkswagen cars.

Alain Menu was fourth in a Hyundai that was hit by an increase in weight and a reduction of power after Tarquini’s display of strength in Race 1.
As far as the title fight was concerned, the event favoured Jean-Karl Vernay who leaves China with a leading margin of 21 points in the Drivers’ championship ahead of Attila Tassi.

RACE TWO:

Grid – Borković, Dupont and Lloyd are missing following damage obtained in Race 1

Start – Vervisch on pole and Nash start well and swerve to the left before Kajaia; there is commotion in the first turns, Nash takes the lead from Kajaia, Vervisch, Tassi, Morbidelli, Oriola and Colciago; Vernay is pushed wide by Comini and drops to 15th

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Lap 1: Colciago and Huff overtake Oriola for 6th and 7th
Lap 2: Nash pulls away, while Vervisch, Kajaia and Morbidelli have a tough fight behind him; Colciago overtakes Tassi for 5th
Lap 3: Tassi is given a drive-through penalty for a jump start
Lap 4: The fight for second heats up, Vervisch, Morbidelli, Kajaia and Huff make several contacts, eventually Kajaia clashes with Huff and retires

2017-2017 Zhejiang Race 2---06 Frederic Vervisch_191.jpg

Lap 5: Huff elbows his way past Morbidelli for third
Lap 6: There are more contacts between Vervisch, Huff and Morbidelli; Huff overtakes Vervisch for second
Lap 7: Menu overtakes Colciago and Oriola for fifth; Vernay overtakes Panis for 10th
Lap 8: Oriola overtakes Colciago for 6th; Tarquini overtakes Colciago for 7th; Vernay overtakes Zhang for 9th
Lap 9: Tarquini overtakes Oriola for 6th

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Lap 11: Vernay overtakes Colciago for 8th
Lap 12: Tarquini and Menu overtake Vervisch who drops to 7th
Lap 14: Vernay, Vervisch and Colciago collide; Vervisch retires, Vernay pits to replace a wheel
Lap 15: Huff has completely eliminated Nash’s leading gap
Lap 16: Huff overtakes Nash for the lead
Lap 17: Morbidelli overtakes Nash for second; Menu overtakes Tarquini for 4th

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Lap 18: Oriola overtakes Tarquini for 5th
Lap 19: Huff wins from Morbidelli, Nash, Menu and Oriola; Zhang claims a brilliant 7th position.

Quotes from the podium finishers in the two races

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Gabriele Tarquini (Winner of Race 1): “What a great weekend for Hyundai, the team and myself. I certainly did not expect that and this will stay as one of the best memories in my career. To win at our debut just proves that the excellent work done pays off. Our pace in Race 1 was great. I was lucky not to be involved in any incidents at the start and to be already 7th in lap 1, having started from P14. I then realized I had a chance to win and pushed hard, despite the fact we had some fears after having encountered problems with the oil radiator in practice and qualifying. Luckily, the issue did not occur again and I could pass everybody and take the lead. In Race 2, of course, we did not have the same pace, with 40 kilos more and 95% of the power, especially towards the end of the race, the car began struggling. The weekend really was not bad for a newcomer to the series. At the end of the day, I am a rookie in TCR!”

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Rob Huff (Winner of Race 2, 3rd in Race 1): “Race 2 was probably one of the toughest and most aggressive race I have been involved in, but also a very enjoyable one, as we came on top! It was an excellent weekend for the entire Leopard Racing team, the car was very competitive here and the team did a fantastic job. More importantly, Jean-Karl has regained the championship lead and will go to Dubai with a significant advantage. My mission was to help him and I think that I achieved what was expected from me. I won’t be racing in Dubai but I enjoyed very much my stay in the TCR and hope to be back.”

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Jean-Karl Vernay (2nd in Race 1): “It was a great weekend for us and I am very happy. The car was terrific, and it was important to get the points of the victory in Race 1, which was definitely better than Race 2, which saw too much fighting. We knew the track would suit the Golf, and we used well the opportunity, which allowed us to approach the final round with some confidence, although the job is far from finished.”

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Gianni Morbidelli (2nd in Race 2): “I am very happy of the weekend, it’s great to see that our season has improved dramatically since Oschersleben and it is important to be finishing on high notes such as today. The races here were fun, but also a little bit dirty, especially Race 2. Some drivers were a little bit over the limit in closing the door, attacking or pushing.”

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

James Nash (3rd in Race 2): “It’s a little bit frustrating to finish Race 2 in third after having led with a 7-second gap, but I really made everything I could. At the beginning, I managed to pass Kajaia and Vervisch to take the lead and pulled away, building quite some gap. But then the others caught me again. I did not make mistakes and had no issues, their pace was simply much faster than mine. There was much rubbing in Race 2, but I am sure it made a great TV show!”

The final two rounds of the 2017 TCR International Series will take place in Dubai, on November 17 and 18.

PHIL’S THOUGHTS…

I have to say that as a fan, follower and blogger of the TCR International Series, that I disagree with the lack of stewards decisions made in light of some of the overtaking that took place and the results of said overtakes.

I agree that Touring Car Racing always has contact and always will do, however the manner that Pepe Oriola was demoted on lap 12 during Race One was in my opnion, punishable. Vernay clearly used the “Nudge” technique to assist his pass on Oriola and this saw the Spaniard run off the road on the Start/Finish straight.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Oriola quite rightly moved over to defend his position from Morbidelli on the run to the first turn, however contact again ensued and Oriola into a slid going into the first turn. The fact there was no further action taken sets a precedent and one I think we will see more of in Dubai.

Another example was the determination of Rob Huff in race two. Whilst battling for position at the top of the circuit, Huff made contact with David Kajaia and this saw the Alfa Romeo driver retire two corners later with a damaged right rear wheel. Huff then followed this up with a very elbows out pass on Morbidelli, which saw the Italian sideways and defending from Audi driver Vervisch.

Like I said, I’m all for exciting passes but I’m also for fair passing as well that doesn’t see the other driver retire or lose out on several positions because of that contact and pass.

2017-2017 Zhejiang Race 1---30 Gabriele Tarquini_217

The big news coming in this weekend were the Hyundai’s and I think you’ll agree that they have made their point. Whilst a lot of the development has been done with Gabriele Tarquini involved, adding Alain Menu to the driver lineup for the last two events was inspired.

Until the BoP was invoked for Race Two, both drivers had very good speed and pace and were able to showcase this in Race One very convincingly by moving forward very quickly from 13th and 14th on the grid respectively. Even with an extra 40kgs and 5% less horsepower, Tarquini and Menu still powered forward.

Expect to see quite a few of these out in action next year, I can already hear the phone of Andrea Adamo, Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager, ringing off the hook with Sales for 2018…

2017-2017 Zhejiang Race 1---01 Stefano Comini_156

Finally, I feel some of the drivers who suffered a bad weekend need a mention. I include Stefano Comini, Mato Homola amongst quite a few. Comini is in the title hunt and now looks increasingly as if he will have to concede his reign to rival Vernay, but you can bet the Swiss driver wont give up without a fight.

Mato Homola again suffered  engine issues and a puncture during the first race, however the inexplicable decision to add weight to the Opel Astra TCR added to what was a difficult weekend. Both the Hungarian and DG Sport Competition will be out to end the season on a high in Dubai.

Finally… TCR EUROPE TROPHY

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Before that takes place, the best of the Domestic European TCR series drivers will go up against each other to win the prestigious TCR Europe Trophy which takes place at the Adria International Raceway in Italy on 29th October.

This is as close as you’ll get to seeing something similar to the Touring Car World Cup events that took place back in the middle 1990’s and I’m sure its going to be a fantastic event to witness.

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of both the TCR Talk International Facebook Group and the new TCR Talk UK Facebook Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from The TCR International Series, Domestic Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

2017-2017 Zhejiang Race 2---28 Aurelien Panis_234

Please note that all images are used courtesy of WSC/TCR International Series.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!