2018 TCR UK Series: Croft

With the TCR Season now over, here’s a reminder of how the last weekends of the 2018 TCR UK Series finished.

TCR UK headed north to Croft in Yorkshire for the penultimate race meeting of the season where the 2.12 mile circuit played host to Rounds 11 and 12 of the championship.

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of all the action that took place at Croft, from Qualifying on Saturday all the way through to Race One and Race Two on Sunday…

The 2018 TCR UK Series Entry List For Croft:

Croft TCR UK Entry list 2018

Mathematically, there was a tiny chance that WestCoast Racing could be beaten to the Teams’ championship title, although that chance effectively ended once the Croft meeting got underway.

The string of race victories achieved by Dan Lloyd, together with the strong series of finishes by his two teammates, Swedish siblings Andreas and Jessica Bäckman, meant that the team could no longer be caught by its closest rival, Pyro Motorsport, and so secured the inaugural TCR UK Teams’ title.

The team confirmed that it would bring all three drivers to Croft, despite a direct clash with the TCR Scandinavia series this weekend in which WestCoast Racing has also been competing with regular driver Fredrik Ekblom.

The battle for the Drivers’ title was not quite so straightforward. Lloyd had seven race victories, including a remarkable six successive wins at Silverstone, Knockhill and Brands Hatch, compared to Ollie Taylor’s single win in Race 1 at Castle Combe.

Taylor’s consistency throughout the season, however, coupled with Lloyd’s penalties at Castle Combe and Oulton Park, meant that the pair were separated by 78 points heading to Croft with a possible 182 still on offer over the two remaining events. Lloyd could clinch the title if he outscored Taylor by 13 points…

However, the battle would go on to be decided at the championship’s final event at Donington Park.

2018-2018 Croft Race 1---2018 UK Croft R1, 50 Darelle Wilson_1

Away from the two title contests, Finlay Crocker and Darelle Wilson both returned to the TCR UK grid.

Crocker and Wilson missed the Oulton Park event and returned in the Verizon Connect Racing Honda Civic Type-R and the DW Racing Vauxhall Astra TCR respectively.

Andreas Bäckman claims maiden pole position in Croft Qualifying

WestCoast Racing’s Andreas Bäckman capitalised on changeable conditions in Qualifying for the TCR UK Series at Croft to claim his maiden pole position – despite switching cars for the event.

Having swapped to a Honda Civic for the weekend, after WestCoast Racing made a late decision to enter all three regular drivers into the event, Bäckman had to contend with changeable conditions in Qualifying in an unfamiliar car.

The Swede timed his final qualifying lap to perfection, being one of the last to cross the line on a drying circuit to post a time which was over half a second faster than Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor.

The entire field started the session on wet tyres, but as a drying line emerged the lap times began to fall, with Bäckman initially improving to third before putting in the pole lap on his final attempt with just seconds left on the clock.

Taylor ended up in second after completing just one flying lap in the session, 0.585 seconds shy of Bäckman’s pole time.

Maximum Motorsport’s Stewart Lines was a season-best third, the CUPRA driver capitalising on the conditions to secure a second-row starting position despite having his best lap time disallowed for exceeding track limits.

Championship leader Dan Lloyd, who had set the pace in both warm-up sessions and Free Practice earlier in the day, could only manage fourth in his WestCoast Racing Volkswagen, despite putting in a succession of fast laps towards the end of the session.

However, due to a five-place grid penalty from the previous meeting, Lloyd would start Sunday’s opening race from the back of the grid.

Jessica Bäckman (WestCoast Racing) was fifth fastest in her Volkswagen, less than a tenth slower than her more experienced team-mate Lloyd and just over 1.1 seconds off the pace of her elder brother Andreas. Finlay Crocker (Verizon Connect Racing) overcame gear shift problems from earlier in the day to claim sixth in his  Honda Civic Type R, ahead of the Hyundai of Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport) in seventh.

Series returnee Darelle Wilson completed the times in his Vauxhall Astra TCR, which ran with a repaired front splitter after damage picked up earlier in the day prevented the 29-year-old from taking to the circuit in free practice.

By posting just one flying lap time, Taylor secured pole position for the reversed-grid second race, which takes each driver’s second-fastest lap and reverses the top ten of those times. That gave the Pyro Motorsport driver the upper hand over title rival Lloyd in both of Sunday’s races, with the latter starting race two from seventh after his second-best time was reversed.

Andreas Bäckman secures maiden TCR UK win in first race at Croft

Bäckman took his first victory in the opening race for the TCR UK series at Croft, taking a lights-to-flag win in the Honda Civic ahead of duelling title rivals Ollie Taylor and Dan Lloyd.

Bäckman made a clean start from pole position and immediately pulled into a lead at the front, as Taylor slotted into second and was unable to keep pace with Bäckman in the early laps.

Championship leader Lloyd, meanwhile, made a superb start from last on the grid and hauled his Volkswagen into fifth by the time he got to the first corner, before getting past Finlay Crocker’s Verizon Connect Racing Honda further around the opening lap.

That put Lloyd in fourth and challenging for a podium position behind the CUPRA of Maximum Motorsport’s Stewart Lines. Lines did his best to hang on to a podium position, but on lap five Lloyd made a move at Tower bend and contact was made between the pair, allowing Lloyd to take third and sending Lines into the field on the exit of the corner.

With Lloyd released, he closed down the near-three second gap to Taylor ahead and by lap ten was on the rear bumper of the Honda. Lloyd kept the pressure on Taylor throughout the final five laps, even drawing alongside on the start straight on lap 11, but Taylor was able to hold on to the position and keep his fading title aspirations alive.

Crocker took the chequered flag in fourth to record his best result of the season, ahead of WestCoast Racing’s Jessica Bäckman in fifth. Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport) and Lines completed the classified finishers in sixth and seventh respectively, one lap down, with both having made visits to the pitlane. DW Racing’s Darelle Wilson retired from the race after just two laps following contact with Kent early on.

Ollie Taylor reignites TCR UK title tilt with race two victory

Ollie Taylor reignited his championship challenge in the TCR UK series at Croft with a lights-to-flag victory in the reverse-grid second race, as his main rival Dan Lloyd retired on the opening lap.

Pyro Motorsport’s Taylor started the race from pole position and led into the first corner from Verizon Connect Racing’s Finlay Crocker and WestCoast Racing’s Andreas Bäckman, whilst further back Lloyd had hauled his Volkswagen into fourth after the first two corners.

Disaster then struck for Lloyd at the chicane, as he thumped the kerbs and his Volkswagen Golf speared off the circuit onto the infield with suspension damage, forcing him out of the race. Lloyd could then only watch from the sidelines as Taylor went on to secure his second win of the season, slashing Lloyd’s championship advantage to 31 points with only two races left to run.

Crocker took his best-ever TCR result on his return to the series, making it a 1-2 for the Pyro-run Honda Civic FK8 cars, whilst WestCoast Racing’s Andreas Bäckman made it a podium lock-out for Honda in third. Jessica Bäckman was the leading Volkswagen driver in fourth, with the WestCoast Racing driver improving on her race one performance after a relatively quiet race.

Stewart Lines brought his Maximum Motorsport CUPRA home in fifth, whilst Essex & Kent Motorsport’s Lewis Kent was the last of the classified finishers in sixth after pitting for a new tyre after picking up a puncture early in the race.

DW Racing’s Darelle Wilson failed to take the start after his recurring steering rack problems returned in race one, ruling his Vauxhall Astra out of the second encounter in Yorkshire.

The final round of the 2018  TCR UK Series would take place at Donington Park on 13-14 October.

2018-2018 Croft Race 1---2018 UK Croft R1, start

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of the The Official TCR Talk 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 & Regional TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started this year.

All images are used courtesy of BRSCC / TCR UK Touring Car Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

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