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.
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.
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…
The Hyundai’s are coming!!!
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.
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…
(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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
Jens Reno Møller
Jaap van Lagen
And the biggest TCR event of the season gets even bigger.
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.
Please note that all images are used courtesy of WSC/TCR International Series and Domestic TCR Series
Until next time, all the best!