With recent announcements adding more details to how the 2018 TCR UK Series will look, I thought it was time to put together something that will round up what we know so far.
As many of you may have noticed, I was quite excited when this was announced, as were many others. Despite the announcement of the calendar, it has been stressed by the series organiser that it is provisional at this time.
The beauty of this calendar is that it doesn’t clash with next years BTCC Calendar. This means that should a driver wish to contest both series they can. This decision also means that should any teams wish to run a dual program next year, the opportunity is there.
With the calendar being announced in September, this also gives any interested teams and drivers a full six months to prepare a package or program to take part in the first season of the championship.
The Support Series…
With the TCR UK Series being the headline act in 2018, this gives other British Motorsport series the opportunity to become a part of the first years activities. The following series will be on the Support Package at almost every TCR UK event:
The Britcover National Formula Ford 1600 Championship with Avon Tyres
The Mazda MX-5 SuperCup
The Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup
The Civic Cup Championship sponsored by Tegiwa. (Two rounds only)
What is clear with the championships involved is that they are all one make Championships where either a class structure is in place to balance performance and keep things fair or driver talent is a key factor as the cars are all the same apart from setup data or experience.
With the variety of Tintop action involved from the likes of Volkswagen, Honda and Mazda to addition of the exceptional single seater excitement of Formula Ford 1600, fans that will be watching the action track side will have plenty to keep them enthralled over a race weekend or race day.
The TCR UK Taster/Test Day…
As TCR machinery has raced mostly in Europe or Internationally since the inception of the regulations in 2015, there hasn’t been much of a chance for drivers and teams to have a go at testing out the latest cars unless they compete in a race weekend as part of a one off experience.
So the chance to test cars that are available for hire or on sale was setup by the BRSCC to take place on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on 29th November. What a fantastic idea!
The likes of 2017 TCR International Champion Jean-Karl Vernay, former World, European and British champion Gabriele Tarquini, TCR International driver Frédéric Vervisch, Jordi Gené, Thomas Jäger, triple TCR champion Josh Files and Mario Ferraris were on hand to assist potential buyers of cars for 2018.
With up to as many as thirty four drivers sampling cars, this led to what was a very busy and successful day.
As well as taking the chance to sample this new machinery (there were cars present from SEAT, Volkswagen, Audi, Honda, Opel, Alfa Romeo and Hyundai, with Peugeot Sport personnel also in attendance despite not yet having a car available) there were several UK teams in attendance as well.
Pyro Motorsport, SWR, Carl Swift, Motorbase and Brisky Racing were testing their cars and this offered a chance for these outfits to further prepare for next season.
Jonathan Ashman, the TCR UK Promoter, commented on how successful the Taster Day was:
“We were delighted with how well the day went, the pit lane was busy all day and the meeting room upstairs saw just as much activity. The feedback we’ve had from drivers and the manufacturers has been very positive and that can only be good news for next year.”
“The day gave everyone a chance to meet my team and find out more about TCR UK, but with an emphasis on allowing potential teams and drivers the chance to experience TCR cars.”
The teams interested so far…
With registrations for next season officially opened at the start of December, there has been plenty of news about teams who have purchased TCR machinery with the intention of competing next year.
Now, let me make this next point perfectly clear: This is not a list of entrants confirmed for 2018.
This is a list of teams who have announced on Social Media/Press outlets that they have TCR cars with the intention of competing in the TCR UK Series next year.
When BRSCC/TCR UK see fit to announce an official entry list, you can be sure that the Guru will happily publish this!
Sean Walkinshaw Racing: Honda Civic TCR
SWR already have a top flight GT effort underway in Asia and announced earlier in 2017 the intention to run a two car squad using Honda Civic TCR ‘s. The team have already take delivery of a Honda Civic run by the Boutsen-Ginion squad in the TCR Benelux series.
With several drivers having driven the car and a lot of testing mileage already undertaken in 2017, the team already has a striking colour scheme on the Honda that will see them stand out next season.
Pyro Motorsport: Honda Civic TCR
This well known BTCC Support squad have already been in action in TCR machinery, having run a Honda Civic for Finlay Crocker in the TCR Italy Series as well as running their own programmes in the TOCA Package.
2017 BTCC Champion Ash Sutton has tested the car quite a lot recently and with TCR being seen as stepping stone in the ladder between the likes of Renault Clio’s/Mini’s etc and the BTCC, the squad already has plenty of knowledge of this type of Touring Car to be just as competitive as the other outfits who are also testing.
Carl Swift/Area Motorsport: SEAT Leon TCR
Already known for his racing exploits with Honda’s and in the 24H Endurance Series, Mortgage & Financial Advisor Swift has plans to run a SEAT Leon TCR for 2018. The Sheffield driver was on hand at the TCR UK Test/Taster Day to show off the merits of the well developed Leon Racer.
Swift is currently looking for Sponsors/Partners to help fund his TCR UK effort in 2018 and is likely to be an interesting thorn in the side to the bigger teams that plan to be out in action next year.
Motorbase Performance: Volkswagen Golf TCR
Dave Bartrum’s well known BTCC outfit has already confirmed the purchase of three VW’s for 2018 and explained that TCR fits in well with the squad’s lineup of touring cars now that they have closed down their GT program.
However what is interesting is that it is possible we could see Motorbase taking on the best in European TCR events in 2018 and not just a TCR UK programme. Thanks to their recent GT effort which saw action in the UK and Europe, Batrum’s squad is well placed to spring a surprise should they concentrate on a European entry.
Lewis Kent: Hyundai i30 N TCR
2017 BRSCC Ford Fiesta runner up Lewis Kent announced recently that he will be steeping up from the Ford ranks to make the move into TCR UK having purchased one of the Hyundai i30 N TCR cars. Kent will delivery of the car in January.
With this news, Kent becomes the first driver to confirm he will be participating in the series next year.
As well as finishing runner up in the BRSCC Ford Fiesta Championship for 2017, Kent has also been nominated for the Downforce Racing Henry Surtees Teen Racer of the Year award. With the Hyundai already a race winner in TCR ranks, it will be good to see one of these cars on the grid next year.
Maximum Motorsport: SEAT Leon TCR
Stewart Lines BTCC squad is also looking to be involved in the TCR UK Series in 2018 with plans to run a SEAT Leon TCR well underway. However there seems to be more involved already.
Line’s squad is also heavily involved in the VW Cup which will support the TCR UK Series on several occasions during 2018 and there is also the prize of a test drive in the teams TCR car as well. Drivers for the car have not yet been announced.
Spencer Sport: Hyundai i30 N TCR
Rally outfit Spencer Sport have purchased a Hyundai i30 N TCR car and are planning to enter the inaugural TCR UK Series in 2018, with the South Wales based outfit seeking a driver for the campaign.
The South Wales squad took part in the 2017 Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship with James Grint piloting their Mitsubishi Supercar, however they are now branching out into Touring Car racing with the very successful Hyundai package.
The package on offer from Spencer Sport involves entry into the TCR UK series, full preparation and on-event running by a dedicated team of mechanics, a test and race programme, all logistics, tyres and fuel.
MellioSport: Audi RS3 LMS TCR
MellioSport announced over Christmas 2017 that they would be running an Audi RS3 LMS TCR in the TCR UK Series with VW Cup racer Darelle Wilson rumoured to be piloting the Audi in 2018.
MellioSport themselves are a company that offer Driver Coaching services for those who wish to progress in their Motorsport career in very aspect including PR, Nutrition and driving style as well as operating a successful karting track near Grantham in the East Midlands.
Darelle Wilson himself has competed in various series including the likes of Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, Britcar Endurance Championship and what was formerly known as the MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain.
Brisky Racing had announced plans to run VW Golf TCR’s in the series, however they announced recently that they would be concentrating in their BTCC programme with Team HARD instead. The team will be monitoring activity in the TCR UK Series with an eye to have an entry in future seasons.
What we don’t know yet…
Whilst keeping track of the progress that TCR UK has made since the announcement over 12 months ago that the series would take place, there has been one query that I have repeatedly come across that, as yet, doesn’t seem clear:
The Commercial Package
This has been a concern raised by many drivers and teams who have commented on showing an interest in TCR UK after trying out the cars for themselves. Michael Epps, Mike Bushell and 2017 BTCC Champion Ashley Sutton have been a few to try out the cars and have mentioned that this one issue is possibly what could be stopping them from signing up partners/sponsors for a 2018 campaign.
As yet the BRSCC and TCR UK have yet to confirm what this package will be, however there is the fact that other TCR Series around the world utilise one common channel to allow fans to watch their races live and uninterrupted by adverts: YouTube.
Whilst some championships embargo countries that have the racing live on a specific TV channel for the entire season, TCR uses YouTube to great affect. When you consider that viewing is going the way of Netflix/Amazon etc with online streaming becoming more popular its not difficult to see why this works.
However, as an example of a solid commercial package, the BTCC has between 6-8 hours live coverage on ITV4 for each of its ten racedays every season. Whilst that is an established deal with TOCA, TCR UK will also need to have a solid TV presence as well to help get it off the ground.
Whilst BTCC fans can boast that they can say to interested parties, “Hey, there’s this great Racing series on TV that’s worth watching cos its way better than F1” (And it is…you know its true), TCR UK does not yet have that option, but time will tell.
With there being no calendar clashes next year with the BTCC, there is a great opportunity for the series to have live coverage without domestic competition on TV (potentially…other series may well clash). This is ideal for a channel looking to pick up a new series that exciting and interesting to watch. Just watch a TCR International Race to see that!
So this is everything we know officially so far about the TCR UK Series. There may well be more details to be finalised and also more information to be shared out to the Teams, Drivers and Fans involved, but lets keep some realism on the subject.
TCR UK will start out small to begin with and the exact size of the grid/entries will be revealed on 6th March, however lets give it a chance to see how the series grows. Sometimes progression can be rapid and as for evidence of this, take the example of TCR Germany.
They had a large entry of 23 drivers for the first season in 2016. In 2017 that number leapt up to 44! There is always time for the UK championship to build and progress over the year and following seasons.
One thing is certain: we Brits love out Touring Car racing. TCR UK will simply offer another type of tintop racing to follow on the weekends when BTCC is not racing and it also offers a chance to any European drivers and teams out there to make a wildcard appearance in a new series that will attract a lot of attention.
So, thats two posts I’ve shared with you all regarding what we know about the 2018 TCR Europe Series and the 2018 TCR UK Series. That leaves only one more post to be written up sharing what we know about the 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup or WTCR…
Whoops! My Bad…wrong picture… (Paul Ricard 1995 for those of you who remember…)
Try this one…
As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of the TCR Talk International Facebook Group & the TCR Talk UK Facebook Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from FIA WTCR, The TCR Europe Series, Domestic TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.
Until next time, all the best!