Darelle Wilson competed in one of the most recognisable cars of the first ever season of the TCR UK Series, where he drove the family-run Vauxhall Astra TCR in its bright green livery.
Whilst preparations are underway to compete in the 2019 season, Wilson himself has opened up about how his journey to joining the TCR UK Series took place. The TCR Talk Blog will be sharing this journey on a regular basis.
In this third part of the story, the Vauxhall driver explains the experience he gained, the challenges he faced and his overall performance competing in the first season of the TCR UK Series.
Round 1: Silverstone
With the car having arrived at the circuit set up for a different tyre manufacturer (normally used in ADAC TCR Germany) Darelle and the team knew they had a difficult task ahead to get to grips with the car.
This issue wasn’t too apparent as he shook down the car in both the damp warm up & free practice sessions, however going into Qualifying the track conditions improved. Darelle suffered with the slick tyres & fell off the pace, eventually qualifying the Astra in seventh place on the grid.
Seventh in a grid of thirteen cars? Not a bad start to race day! Darelle explains his race performances below:
“In race one I made a good start and was feeling positive when I was hit from the rear and went off, getting stuck in the gravel trap. This wasn’t good as more than anything we needed track time with the car,” said Wilson
“Because of the DNF in the first race, we started race two from last on the grid, but we had a decent race where I managed to finish in seventh place. The engine was strong and brakes were good, but we needed to get to the bottom of the handling issue we were struggling with!”
Round 2: Knockhill
The TCR UK Series moved to Knockhill for races three and four of the season where the competitors would race on the circuit in the reverse layout.
With the decision taken to run the car on used tyres in both the warm-up and free practice sessions in an attempt to save costs, this move ended up hindering Darelle. In Qualifying, the new tyres affected the cars handling and he ended up in eighth place for the race one grid.
Darelle explains his race performances below:
“On a greasy track the car came alive and I could easily race with the pack! However it was very difficult to make a clean overtake so I decided to play safe and settled for eighth place with a best lap two-tenths of a second slower than race winner Dan Lloyd,” explained the Vauxhall driver.
“At the start of race two, a couple of drivers ran wide so I was up to sixth place by the second corner. In what turned out to be a race of attrition for many others, I managed to cross the finish line in fourth place. Little did I know at the time that this would be my best result of the season!”
Round 3: Brands Hatch
The TCR UK Series moved on to Brands Hatch in Kent for races five and six of the season where the competitors would race on the well known and popular Indy circuit.
During the gap between Knockhill and Brands Hatch, there was an adjustment made to the Balance of Performance that’s used to keep all TCR cars as equal as possible, however, this had a negative effect on the Vauxhall Astra.
This meant that Darelle suffered on a circuit where he was expected to go well.
“It was a disaster! From free practice onwards, the car was lacking power. The shift light was telling me to change gear too early and the boost was coming in at all the wrong places on the track,” explained Darelle.
“None of the changes we tried made any difference and we struggled to get hold of Kissling Motorsport to see what support they could provide. We qualified thirteenth on the after struggling with the same handling issue when the car was on new tyres.”
Race one would see Wilson finish in eleventh place whilst race two saw an improvement after he finished in sixth place. However, this was little reward as he finished over half a second off the pace of Lloyd on such a short lap.
Paying a visit to VMax Engineering…
After Brands Hatch, we decided to take the car to Germany and let Kissling Motorsport have a look to see what the issues were. Kissling Motorsport advised that we all meet up at their engine partners VMax Engineering based in Northern Germany
On arrival, the staff identified the problem almost straight away: The car had virtually no boost! Whilst Darelle and the team believed it to be an ECU problem it turned out to be an external component which controls the boost level.
As soon as this was rectified, the staff at VMax Engineering found a misfire at low revs which was caused by a problem in the wiring loom. With a used loom fitted to the car as they waited on a new one, Darelle and the team eventually left VMax Engineering with the car running fine.
Further issues with the Wiring Loom were encountered by the team as they used the Britcar event at Oulton Park as an extended test, however, Kissling Motorsport sent an engineer with new parts and the car was back to running at its best.
Darelle has made it very clear that without the support from Martin Depper, Taylex Display & Exhibition and his other backers that it wouldn’t have been possible for him and the family to run the car in 2018. To everyone involved, he passes on his heartfelt thanks and gratitude.
My thanks to Darelle for sharing this journey with me and opening up on how difficult it can be to go racing in any series with a new car.
I will be keeping things up to date on here as well as in The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group where members will also be sharing their thoughts and any news from The 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), The 2019 TCR Europe Touring Car Series, The 2019 TCR UK Touring Car Championship and other Domestic & Regional TCR Series from around the world.
Until next time, all the best!