2018 TCR Europe Series: Spa-Francorchamps…

Here is the TCR Talk roundup of all the action that took place at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, from Qualifying all the way though to Race One on Saturday and Race Two on Sunday…

With the historic Belgian track holding TCR International Series races last year, a lot was expected from the TCR Europe Series and TCR BeNeLux Series competitors and we weren’t disappointed!

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Zandvoort:

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Vernay sets the pole position ahead of Potty

2018-2018 Spa Qualifying---2018 TCR Europe Spa, 69 Jean-Karl Vernay-88 Maxime Potty

Jean-Karl Vernay and Maxime Potty topped the Qualifying session in the morning. The French driver set the pace in both Q1 and Q2 and secured pole position for Race 1.

On his home racetrack, Potty claimed his best result so far, qualifying second; it was a similar story for Julien Briché, who was third fastest.

Championship co-leaders Mikel Azcona and Dušan Borković qualified in fourth and sixth respectively, with Stian Paulsen splitting them in fifth.

The best two Honda cars were Josh Files’ and Stefano Comini’s in seventh and eighth, meaning that cars from six different brands – Audi, Volkswagen, Peugeot, Cupra, Hyundai and Honda – filled the first seven positions.

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

Target Competition teammates Reece Barr and Kris Richard secured the front row on the reverse grid for Race 2.

Danny Kroes and Attila Tassi were the most disappointed. Kroes had several lap times disallowed for repeatedly infringing track limits in Q2, including a 2:29.978 that would have placed him fifth, while Tassi blamed himself for not going through to Q2, saying that he couldn’t quite get his braking points right.

The Q1 part of the session was disrupted by the red flag after only four minutes, when Viktor Davidovski went off at Raidillon and crashed heavily into the tyre wall.

Vernay claims his first victory as Potty and Azcona complete the podium

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

Jean-Karl Vernay has taken his maiden win in the TCR Europe. In a warm afternoon at Spa, the Frenchman of Leopard Lukoil Racing drove his Audi RS3 LMS to a lights-to-flag victory from pole position.

The only one who could resist his pace was local hero Maxime Potty (Comtoyou Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI), who took a first podium finish in the series.

With a solid race, Mikel Azcona (PCR Sport Cupra) took third and most importantly, became the new leader in the overall standings, 5 points clear of Dušan Borković who was classified fourth with a Target Competition Hyundai i30 N.

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

In the final laps, the Serbian had to defend fiercely his positions from the attacks of Julien Briché (JSB Compétition Peugeot 308), one of the drivers that put the show on the Belgian track.

Others, like Stefano Comini, Josh Files or Jens Reno Møller were less lucky and had to retire as a consequence of the tough battles. The Dane had a scary moment at the Raidillon after a contact with Attila Tassi, but luckily he managed to stop before crashing into the barriers.

Paulsen and Tassi receive penalties after Race 1

2018-2018 Spa Race 1---2018 TCR Europe Spa R1, 9 Attila Tassi-11 Jens Reno Moller_1

Stien Paulsen and Attila Tassi were both given a 30-second time penalty after today’s Race 1 in Spa-Francorchamps.

Paulsen was dropped from sixth to 14th as he was considered guilty for having caused the incident in second lap of the race that forced Reece Barr to retire.

As for Tassi, he was punished for sending Jens-Reno Møller into a dangerous high-speed spin at the Raidillon while they were fighting for the 11th position on lap 9; this meant that Tassi was demoted from 11th to 17th.

Briché inherits win as Richard gets penalty whilst Azcona increases his Championship lead

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

Julien Briché has joined the club of 2018 TCR Europe race winners thanks to a decision of the Stewards that imposed a time penalty to Kris Richard who had been the first under the chequered flag in a closely-fought Race 2 at Spa-Francorchamps.

Investigating on the contact Richard and Briché had had while they were fighting for the lead, the Steward inflicted a penalty of one second to the Swiss that was enough to swap the positions, demoting Richard to second, three tenth behind Briché.

The incident happened at Les Combes during the penultimate lap; Briché tried to overtake Richard at the braking, using the outside line, but as the two cars collided he was forced to cut straight through the chicane, which helped the Swiss to maintain the lead and win with a margin of 0.7 seconds.

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

The penalty granted Briché, JSB Compétition and the Peugeot 308 their first victory in TCR Europe.

Richard had taken the lead during the first lap, but then had to work hard to defend the position, first from Josh Files (who was later stopped by an electrical problem) and then from Briché, who attacked relentlessly.

Local hero Maxime Potty visited the podium for a second time this weekend, taking third ahead of a very clever Mikel Azcona who further extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings, as Duśan Borković could finish no higher than 7th.

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

Jean-Karl Vernay was a victim of some fierce battling in the closing laps when he was fighting for a podium position, while the Honda cars endured a difficult Sunday; both Stefano Comini (before the start) and Josh Files (after the safety car period) were halted by electronic bugs and Attila Tassi was sidelined by a puncture.

Giovanni Altoè encored his yesterday’s win in the DSG Challenge, while Briché collected the TCR Benelux Trophy.

In the championship standings, Azcona has increased his tally to 95 points, 11 clear of Borković; Vernay lies third with a gap of 39 points, while Dániel Nagy is fourth a further two points adrift.

The series will resume at the Hungaroring in the first weekend of July.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

The TCR Europe Series weekend at Spa saw two great races take part for their own reasons, however Balance of Performance and driving standard were once again the talk of the town in a season that has provided close racing and several different winners so far.

When he is on point and the car is running faultessly, Jean-Karl Vernay is unstoppable, his performances in the TCR International Series over the last two years being evidence of that. Despite the fact that he is running a dual campaign in both TCR Europe and the FIA World Touring Car Cup, Vernay is getting to grips with the Audi fast.

As I pointed out earlier, BoP was a big talking point over the weekend as was the result of race two with Richards being moved back a place after what were seen as questionable defence standards.

 

TCR Europe Spa-Francorchamps 08 - 10 June 2018

So trust me when I say that a lot of this discussion took place in The Official TCR Talk Group where drivers and fans alike held constructive debates about the various examples of contact in both races and the situation regarding how BoP is applied.

Should it be series specific, or track specific instead of one overall governing balance that affects all models around the world? This is a subject that will go on and on…

Hungary is next up in July and with both Daniel Nagy and Attila Tassi having already raced there in the WTCR weekend, expect a lot from the Hungarians on home turf…

 

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who share 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 WSC / TCR Europe Touring Car Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

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TCR-Talk Preview: 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup heads to Vila Real

Well its been a while!!!

Did you miss me??? I’m glad you did!

TCR Talk previews this weekends action from the 2018 FIA WTCR Race of Portugal that’s due to take place with the first race on Saturday and the second and third races taking place on Sunday afternoon.

AUTO - WTCR  ZANDVOORT  2018
Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

This weekend we are treated to the return of The 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) after the massive four day UBER TCR FESTIVAL that took place at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

The many crowds at the national holiday event also witnessed the TCR Europe Series, TCR Benelux Series and some guy called Max Verstappen who seemed quite popular for some strange reason, in action last month

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Credit: FIA

Apparently this Max bloke drives a single seater for a living. Sounds quite boring if you ask me…

Zandvoort also saw the WTCR Drivers Championship turned upside down thanks to some Balance of Performance changes that took place after the epic Nurburgring Nordschleife that saw Audi join Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen at the front of the field

The Drivers Championship…

AUTO - WTCR  ZANDVOORT  2018
Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

The historic street circuit of Vila Real plays host to rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the season and also marks the halfway point for this highly competitive series. Yann Ehrlacher in the Munnich Motorsport Honda Civic TCR leads the standings after a good points haul last time out.

Ehrlacher took the first race victory of the weekedn as the Hyundai’s suffered on the beach side circuit. Yvan Muller and Norbert Michelisz made contact (again!!) and the Audi’s and Peugeot’s proved to be absolute weapons in race trim.

Aurelien Comte gave the Peugeot 308 TCR its first win whilst Jean Karl Vernay took his secomd of the year. So what does this mean???

Well, the Championship looks a little like this:

Yann Ehrlacher 146 points
Yvan Muller 137 points
Rob Huff 130 points
Jean-Karl Vernay 121 points
Gabriele Tarquini 118 points
Thed Björk 112 points
Esteban Guerrieri 107 points
Norbert Michelisz 102 points
Frédéric Vervisch 65 points
Mehdi Bennani 65 points

Who will be on top after Race 3 on Sunday? We’ll know after Race 3 on Sunday!!!

The Balance Of Performance Returns…

AUTO - WTCR  ZANDVOORT  2018
Credit: Jean Michel Le Meur / DPPI

Ah yes, this one never gets old or boring. The mere mention of these three words this year always sparks lively debate and it will do once again this weekend.

Last time out at Zandvoort, the Hyundai’s were lucky to qualify inside the top twenty after the BoP adjustment that came into place seeing the ride height increased and the engine power reduced from 100% to 97.5%. This led to cries from both Yvan Muller Racing and BRC Racing that they felt this wasn’t being applied properly.

However when you take into consideration that the Hyundai i30 N TCR has taken five wins out of twelve so far against three for Honda, two for Audi and one each both for Peugeot and Volkswagen, its clear to see why this happened.

For the recent TCR Europe Series weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, BoP saw a reduction in ride height for the Hyundai’s but leaving them at the same maximum power setting. The Portuguese venue will be another intriguing weekend if you’re a Hyundai driver. Expect more lively debate about this subject.

 

The Magnificent Eleven

AUTO - WTCR  ZANDVOORT  2018
Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

Amazingly, eleven drivers out of the twenty seven entries have not raced on this circuit before so this weekend will be a steep learning curve for them.

When you look at the list of debutantes for the Vila Real event though, some of these drivers have a lot of experience in car setup which will come in handy on the tight, fast and dusty Portuguese layout:

Nathanaël Berthon, Aurélien Comte, Denis Dupont, Fabrizio Giovanardi, Mato Homola, Benjamin Lessennes, Gianni Morbidelli, Pepe Oriola, Gordon Shedden, Jean-Karl Vernay and Frédéric Vervisch will all be looking to tame the circuit whilst also getting their collective heads around the new concept of the Joker Lap.

The Safety Car is on standby!

AUTO - WTCR  ZANDVOORT  2018
Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

So, you have one of the fastest, tightest street circuits in Europe, a hot and dusty track that attracts Motorsport fans by the thousands and a massive field of TCR Regulation cars ready to go hell for leather to get those vital points…

But its a street circuit…with a lot of cars being steered by some hot headed drivers with scores to settle or points to make. I expect three safety car appearances myself…

Also take into consideration that last year there were sixteen FIA WTCC TC1 entries competing, which is a lot less than this year might I add. This year sees twenty seven cars on track at the same time for three races, so don’t be surprised if the Safety car makes an appearance or two which could potentially wreck a vital Joker Lap strategy.

 

The Joker Lap Returns

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Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

Last year the FIA World Touring Car Championship made the move to improve its racing spectacle by introducing a Joker Lap at some of its events in the same fashion as the FIA World Rallycross Championship puts it to good use.

The Joker Lap has been confirmed to return for the three WTCR races and will surely shake up the field of twenty seven cars entered on the tight and fast street circuit. Whilst overtaking is possible, this option to make up places or lose places in each race offers a new aspect for the majority of the field.

The Wildcards…

Continuing the tradition that started out in Hungary earlier this year, the 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) has announced its two local wildcard drivers in the shape of Edgar Florindo and José Rodrigues.

Florindo is also experienced with TCR as he has driven in the TCR Portugal Series, having claimed eight consecutive podiums and two victories last season. The local driver will be out in a Veloso Motorsport run CUPRA TCR as he tackles the event on the World Stage for the first time.

TCR Portugal runner Edgar Florindo will compete in his first WTCR weekend at Vila Real. Credit: FIA WTCR

 

Rodrigues is already familiar with TCR machinery having raced a 2017 Honda Civic TCR in both Germany and Portugal. This year he is a full time entry in the TCR Italy Series with Target Competition who will be running his entry this weekend.

Meanwhile Rodrigues is taking this opportunity with both hands as he is already a part of Tiago Monteiro’s Skywalker Management company and is excited to race with the best in the business.

Jose Rodrigues returns to the Vila Real circuit after racing in last year’s ETCC rounds. Credit: FIA WTCR

 

 

SCHEDULE

*All times are given in Glorious British Summer Time!!!

SATURDAY 23RD JUNE:

Free Practice 1: 09:00-09:30
Free Practice 2: 11:00-11:30
Qualifying 1: 12:30-13:10
Race 1: 16:30

All on the FIA WTCR / Oscaro Facebook page or if your in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland or the USA, then these streams can be found on OSCARO.com

SUNDAY 24TH JUNE:

Qualifying 2: 09:30-10:30
Race 2: 15:45
Race 3: 17:10

All Sunday Sessions shown on Eurosport 2 HD/Eurosport 2/Eurosport Player (In the UK!)

The Circuit itself…

The Vila Real circuit, host to the fifth weekend of WTCR in 2018. Credit: FIA

 

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.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2018 TCR Europe Series: Zandvoort…

Here is the TCR Guru roundup of all the action that took place at the legendary Zandvoort circuit, from Qualifying all the way though to Race One on Sunday and Race Two on the Monday…

Yes, thats right, I said Monday… No, I’m not going mad. Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt already.

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Zandvoort:

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TCR Benelux competitors remember Timo Kuppens

2018-2018 Zandvoort Race 2---2018 TCR Europe Zandvoort R2, 11 Jens Reno Moller_107

The sticker ‘#Ride4TIMO’ appears on the cars of the TCR Benelux competitors. This appears in memory of Timo Kuppens, who passed away prematurely in last December.

He was the son of Isabelle Lietaer and Renaud Kuppens. His father was among the first competitors of TCR Benelux, claiming four race victories and finishing fifth in the 2016 championship driving for the Boutsen-Ginion Racing.

Renaud Jeanfils, director of the ICE company, who helps Cédric Hennau in his role as the promotor of TCR Benelux explained: “Timo’s death affected me deeply, especially because my son and he were almost the same age. Besides this long-time friendship, Timo’s father, Renaud, was one of the first people to believe in TCR Benelux. We couldn’t let this go by.”

Dutch drivers on pole in both races at Zandvoort: Van Lagen in Race 1 and Kroes in Race 2

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

Local drivers had a perfect Qualifying session for the TCR Europe at Zandvoort and will start from pole position in both races.

Jaap van Lagen, called in from the ‘bench’ by the Leopard Lukoil Team, has perfectly fulfilled his role of Jean-Karl Vernay’s substitute and snatched the pole for tomorrow’s Race 1 in his Audi RS3 LMS with an impressive lap of 1:44.536 that was four tenths faster than the 1:44.980 previously posted by Mikel Azcona’s PCR Sport Cupra.

The other Dutch in the field, Azcona’s teammate Danny Kroes qualified tenth and thus acquired the right to start from the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2.

Honda and Hyundai will share the second row for Race 1, as Attila Tassi (1:45.387) and Kris Richard (1:45.494) qualified third and fourth; the current championship leader Dušan Borković ranked fifth only 5 thousandths of a second behind his Target Competition teammate Richard. Jens Reno Møller will complete the front row of the grid for Race 2.

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

The most disappointed drivers were Stian Paulsen and Julien Briché. After being second fastest in Q1 with a lap of 1:45.150 (that would have been good enough for third in Q2) the Norwegian was not able to go faster than 1:45.895 and was relegated in 13th place.

As for Briché, on his first appearance in the championship, missed the cut for Q2 when Møller improved under the chequered flag.

After the session the Stewards imposed a drop of two positions (from 19th to 21st) on the starting grid for tomorrow’s Race 1 to Loris Cencetti who was judged guilty of impeding Francisco Abreu during the session.

Qualfying One: Van Lagen sets the pace from Paulsen

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018
Jaap van Lagen improved the fastest lap time for TCR Europe, topping the Q1 part of the Qualifying with a lap of 1:44.821. He was the only driver capable of going under the 1:45 mark, while Stain Paulsen was second-fastest, completing a lap in 1:45.150.

He was followed by Kris Richard who was only 39 thousandths of a second slower, while Josh Files was fourth, one further tenth adrift.

Mikel Azcona, Dániel Nagy, Attila Tassi, Dušan Borković, Reece Barr and Danny Kroes filled the position from fifth to tenth, all within nine tenths off the fastest time.

Jens Reno Møller provided the last thrill, clocking a 1:45.957 that was good enough for the 11th position and kicked Julien Briché down to 13th behind Igor Stefanowsky; this meant that the French missed the cut by only 10 tenths of a second.

Qualifying Two: Van Lagen insists and claims the pole

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018
Van Lagen put in a great effort and claimed pole position, improving further his lap times in Q2 to an impressive 1:44.536.

After the first turn of timed laps, Azcona topped the timesheet with a lap of 1:44.980, ahead of van Lagen’s 1:45.000, Tassi’s 1:45.387 and Richard’s 1:45.494.

Van Lagen was the only one of the top four to improve, snatching the pole, while Borković (1:45.499) and Barr (1:45.564) moved up to fifth and sixth.
The last one to improve was Files who climbed to seventh with a lap of 1:45.635.

Quotes after the Qualifying session at Zandvoort

2018-2018 Zandvoort Race 1---2018 TCR Europe Zandvoort R1, 46 Jaap Van Lagen_106.jpg

Jaap van Lagen (pole for Race 1): “It’s nice to be back on the TCR scene, and to do it here, at home. Of course, I do a lot of coaching at Zandvoort and the circuit has not many secrets for me, but still, to achieve a pole position requires having a very good car. This is exactly what Leopard Lukoil Racing and Team WRT have provided to me and I thank them for the excellent work. This weekend, there will be a lot of people and it would be nice to make them happy. OK, they come mostly to see Max Verstappen, but they would for sure enjoy a Dutch win in TCR Europe!”

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

Mikel Azcona (second): “I have pushed as much as I could throughout all the sessions and I am very happy with the result. The Cupra is performing very well here and the team is doing a fantastic job, without having the experience and the means of other squads. I really love the track, because it is very technical and ‘old style’, the kind of track where you cannot make a mistake. It feels almost like an urban track, you are always at the limit and very close to the barriers or the sand traps.” 

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

Attila Tassi (third): “Considering it’s the first time I race here, I am very happy with the result and with the work we have done. In free practice 1, we did a race simulation, and in free practice 2, we worked a lot on the set-up, testing various options. We did more changes in Q1 and they worked well, which allowed us to gain half-second in Q2, which proves we had a good work plan for the day.”

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

Danny Kroes (pole for Race 2): “I have mixed feelings, of course. On one hand, I am very happy to be on pole for Race 2 on Monday; on the other, I am not satisfied with the gap in respect to my teammate. I had too much grip on the rear and it was not effective in slow corners. On Monday, I hope to make a good use of the pole, and hopefully, we have sorted the issue we had at the start at Le Castellet. Although I am Dutch, I have not a lot of experience here at Zandvoort, where I have only raced three times, so I won’t be advantaged to race on home soil.”

Mikel Azcona wins Race 1 after a pile-up at the start as Dušan Borković retains the lead in the standings

Mikel Azcona claimed his and PCR Sport’s first victory in the TCR Europe Series at the end of a race that was influenced by a pile up at the start that eliminated three cars and resulted in a safety car period.

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

Local hero Jaap Van Lagen who was on pole position in the Leopard Lukoil Team Audi RS3 LMS spoiled his chances with a slow start that dropped him down to fifth, while Azcona managed to keep the Hell Energy Racing’s duo of Attila Tassi and Josh Files behind into the first turn and laid down his success on that move.

When the race resumed after the safety car intervention, the young Spaniard and his Cupra managed to build a gap ahead of Tassi’s Honda, while Van Lagen was able to overtake Dušan Borković’s Hyundai and Files to take third and also victory in the TCR Benelux.

Borković retained the lead in the standings, but Azcona has closed the gap to eight points; Nagy is third, 22 points behind the leader.

Quotes after the first race at Zandvoort

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

Mikel Azcona (winner): “I am very happy, it has been a great day and yes, my championship starts looking good. First start was lively, but I managed to pass the Audi and then fought with Tassi for a couple of turns. I was on the inside though and could keep the line and the advantage. At the restart after the safety car period, I could build some gap and it was a pretty uneventful race. It’s never easy, especially on a track like this, but did no mistakes and kept a good pace. The car was perfect and I really enjoyed driving on a track with so much history and in front of such a huge crowd.”

2018-2018 Zandvoort Race 1---2018 TCR Europe Zandvoort R1, 9  Attila Tassi_154.jpg

Attila Tassi (second): “I had a very good start and fought with Azcona for the lead. He touched me and sent me onto the grass, but he apologized right away after the race, so everything is fine. My tyres got dirty and spent most of the race trying to preserve them and not to do mistakes. In the final laps, I had to defend from van Lagen, but everything went ok. It’s a good result and I am very satisfied with the car.”

Jaap van Lagen (third): “It has been a good and fun race, except for the start, of course. I was too low on the revs and couldn’t get the right grip. Unfortunately, I lost some positions, and with the long safety-car period, there was not enough time to catch up. Still, the pace and the car were good, I had nice fights and two overtakes, and made it to the podium. I hope we can do better tomorrow, but it won’t be easy starting from P10.” 

Josh Files wins a thrilling race whilst local boys van Lagen and Kroes finish on the podium

Josh Files completed a spotless performance in Zandvoort’s Race 2, claiming his and Honda’s first victory in the TCR Europe Series. The Briton took a perfect start from fourth on the grid, stole the lead from Jens Reno Møller after a few hundred metres and never looked back.

2018-2018 Zandvoort Race 2---2018 TCR Europe Zandvoort R2, 99 Josh Files

The drivers behind him put in a great show, as they were involved in a series of tough fights for the positions. Local boys Jaap van Lagen and Danny Kroes claimed well deserved podium results, finishing second and third respectively.

Van Lagen elbowed his way through the field from ninth on the grid to second in eight laps; afterwards he tried to close the gap from Files, but to no avail. As for Kroes who had started from the pole, he clenched his teeth and managed to keep a charging Attila Tassi at bay. During the final lap they made contact, swapped positions and paints, but eventually Kroes was tougher and retained the third position.

Race 1 winner Mikel Azcona grabbed a sixth place that helped him to join Dušan Borković on top of the standings on equal points; Files moved up to third, 16 points adrift.

Kroes demoted to fourth behind Tassi

The Stewards of the meeting decided to penalise Danny Kroes for his contacts with Attila Tassi during the fight they had in today’s Race 2 while fighting for the third position.

They have dropped the Dutch driver to fourth in the race results, promoting Tassi to third. The competitor renounced to use his right of appeal.

Dániel Nagy was given a ten second penalty for the collision with Stian Paulsen, this dropped him from ninth to 12th.

Quotes after the second race at Zandvoort

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

Josh Files (winner): “It was a perfect day for me and I am happy it happened on such a fantastic track and close to home, as I live virtually across the Channel. Again, I had a good start and after a short fight with Møller, I took the lead. From there, it was a matter of avoiding mistakes and preserving tyres. I was not under any direct threat, but this is a track where you cannot relax. The car was perfect and the team did a perfect job. Now we can focus on reducing the points gap and join the fight for the title.” 

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

Jaap Van Lagen (second): “It was a great race and it feels really special to be on the podium in front of this huge crowd. Unlike yesterday, I had a very good start and could gain some positions staying on the outside line. Then, I did a couple of overtaking manoeuvres and found myself behind Kroes. I noticed that he was having some trouble with his tyres, and eventually I could pass him. The car was really strong and allowed me to push hard throughout the entire race.”

Danny Kroes (third): “It was a good result and a nice way to finish the weekend. The start was lively and there were some contacts, but Files was faster and pulled slightly away. I had to fight for the entire race, notably with Van Lagen and then Tassi. I think that last fight was quite entertaining for the spectators. Attila kept pushing all the time, there was also some bumping, but I managed to resist and I am quite proud of this podium.”

The TCR Europe Series will resume at Spa-Francorchamps on June 8th to 10th.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

The TCR weekend at Zandvoort was a busy one with WTCR, TCR Europe and TCR Benelux in action, however it was also a big weekend where Balance of Performance and Compensation weight came into effect.

Whilst its great to see the Hyundai teams leading in all series, they have been enjoying a dominance that had to come to an end eventually.

What the change to the Hyundai’s meant was that the other models have been able to close in on them and start looking for podiums and wins. The fact that we have a Honda and a CUPRA now having on races in TCR Europe alongside the Hyundai is a good sign. Add in the improved pace of the Audi’s and you have at least four models in the hunt.

Next up is Spa and this often lends itself to some good racing with a lot of overtaking opportunities. However it will also affect those with a power deficit…

TCR Europe Zandvoort, The Netherlands 19 - 21 May 2018

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 WSC / TCR Europe Touring Car Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

TCR Guru Interview: Pierre Runic

I’ve been very lucky so far this year to speak with TCR Creator Marcello Lotti and several drivers from the TCR UK Touring Car Championship.

What a few of you may not know is that I’m also working with a driver who is looking to get into TCR Competition and working hard on his plans and budget to do so.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018
The 2018 TCR Europe Series. Credit: WSC / TCR Europe Series

That driver is upcoming Swedish Motorsport talent Pierre Runic. Runic is a former Rotax Max Sportstil Cup Karting Champion who now is looking to take the next step in his career which is the move up to the TCR Series.

I recently had the chance to speak with Pierre to find out more about himself and his plans for making the step into TCR.

Pierre_Runic_Rome_Fashion_Pose
Credit: Robin Kautto for RaceMedia.net.

First of all Pierre, can you tell me a bit more about yourself?

“I’m a dedicated engineer, a beloved son, but a humble yet fearless person who have an ambition in becoming a top international professional race driver. I am highly motivated, doing everything with 110% effort,” explained Runic.

“I can’t be satisfied unless I’m pleased with my performance and that’s why I’ve become the perfectionist I am today. I love motor racing, and there is no other explanation more than I enjoy the feeling when driving on the edge. The adrenalin kick I get out of it means the world to me. The moment I put the helmet on, everything feels right.”

What are your hobbies outside of racing?

“I am very active outside of Motorsport. I love swimming, climbing, workout and tackling obstacle courses in my spare time. Another hobby I enjoy is filming, taking pictures and editing and use it for social media,” said the Swedish driver.

But most importantly, I like to spend time with my family. I’ve grown up in a big family that values time with each other, and I appreciate that a lot.”

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Credit: Robin Kautto for RaceMedia.net.

What motivates you personally?

“While I was attending school with dreams of becoming a racing-car driver my father gave me a good lesson to learn,” explained Pierre.

“He said ‘Nothing comes easy in life, if you want to continue racing, then you need to show me that you can improve in school.’ From that day, I’ve been motivated to improve myself in everything I do !”

Can you explain why do you have chosen TCR Series competition for the next stage of your racing career?

”After a successful karting career, I need to take the next step, and the next logical step for me is in TCR Series competition. It’s a very similar concept where you can race hard against drivers around the world on any given weekend in any country with so many series to choose from,” said Runic.

“For up and coming drivers like myself, it’s a great chance to get into Touring Car racing at the Domestic level, before aiming to move on Regional and International level TCR competition. Some of the best tin-top drivers in the world are racing in TCR machinery, and I want to be up there with them.”

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Credit: RaceMedia.net

How did your association with RaceMedia begin?

“Niclas Johansson, The founder of RaceMedia and I have a long history that started at the beginning of my karting career. From time to time he worked with our kart racing team, 4WIN,” said the former Karting Champion.

“When he approached me many years later with this new venture regarding TCR Series Competition, I immediately like what I saw, and I signed up. The concept is a great way for a new driver to get a head start on the TCR-Platform and to reach out to many new potential sponsors.”

Explain the main advantages working with RaceMedia?

“The package I have with RaceMedia includes everything from connecting me with a team, research and validating sponsors to marketing, sales meetings, funding and finally a place on the grid in any of the TCR Series around the world,” explained Runic.

“All this is happening while I am still working as a full-time consulting engineer within the automotive sector.”

Bas Koeten SEAT TCR 2018
Credit: Bas Koeten Racing

How are your plans proceeding for gaining support in 2018?

“Raising funds is always the hard part of securing a drive, and the workload for everyone involved has taken longer than we expected. Especially for a new driver like me who has no previous experience in TCR.”

“However, this is a long-term project for us. Many of the partners we are speaking to are already working towards helping put the 2019 budget in place. It’s possible that we might even get on the grid for 2-3 races during this year. Fingers crossed!”

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Bas Koeten Racing Audi in the 2018 FIA WTCR. Credit: Francois Flamand / DPPI

RaceMedia have signed you up with Bas Koeten Racing for your TCR Series debut. Why do you think this is the best team for you?

“I know that Bas Koeten Racing is one of the best teams for me when I take the step up to touring car racing. They have a lot of experience in TCR Competition and compete in many different locations and series around the world.”

“Once I have the budget in place, I have been offered a shared drive in a couple of races in the 24H endurance series. With their vast experience and range of TCR machinery, I look forward to this opportunity.”

Finally, where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

”I see myself driving full time for one of the many TCR teams or even in the recently announced E-TCR series, collecting wins and podium places in one of the most competitive series around the world.”

You can also find this interview at the following link.

Pierre_Runic_Rome_No_Saint
Credit: Robin Kautto for RaceMedia.net.

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.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2018 TCR Europe Series: France…

For 2018, the TCR Europe Trophy has morphed into the TCR Europe Touring Car Series and features seven rounds, with the first taking place at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.

Here is the TCR Guru roundup of all the action that took place at the legendary F1 circuit, from Qualifying all the way though to Race One on Saturday and Race Two on Sunday…

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Paul Ricard:

2018 TCR Europe Entry List

Qualifying: Borkovic takes Pole Position by half-a-second…

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Dušan Borković claimed pole position in the morning’s Qualifying; at the wheel of his Target Competition Hyundai i30 N he was the first and only driver to break the 2:14 barrier, setting a fastest lap of 2:13.781 that gave him the pole position and was half-a-second faster than Mikel Azcona’s 2:14.225.

The young Spaniard prevented Dániel Nagy from making an-all Hyundai front row on the grid for Race 1. Stian Paulsen qualified his Cupra in fourth position, relegating Josh Files and Reece Barr to the third row, while Jean-Karl Vernay placed his Audi in seventh.
Jens Reno Møller (Honda) and Francisco Mora (Hyundai) will fill the front row on the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2.

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After setting the fastest lap in Q1, Igor Stefanovski was not able to repeat his performance in Q2 and qualified 11th after his fastest lap was disallowed.

The most disappointed drivers were Attila Tassi – who failed to advance to Q2 as he also had his fastest lap disallowed – and Stefano Comini who is struggling with his Subaru’s technical issues.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Borković said: “I first sat in the car and I had an interesting feeling, because I know the Hyundai is good and is different to cars I have driven before. It seems the car is perfect for my driving style, because I had to completely change my style last year for the Alfa.”

“The car was completely new and the mechanics said to do two laps slowly and then come in. After free practice, I thought about what I had to do to make a good lap so I drove carefully in Q1 and then in Q2 I relaxed and I could see the car was working well. I overdrove a little on my second lap, so I couldn’t improve, but I’m happy.”

Race One: Dušan Borković converts pole position to victory

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Dušan Borković emerged as the first race winner of the new TCR Europe series, which delivered an intense and closely fought inaugural race.

The Serbian driver of Target Competition had no problems in keeping the advantage of the pole position at the start and controlled the situation throughout the race at the wheel of his Hyundai i30 N.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

He managed to beat the other Hyundai car of M1RA driver Dániel Nagy and the PCR Sport Cupra of Mikel Azcona. While the leading trio had a relatively quiet afternoon, the battle was fierce and superb in a compact group of six cars that really put on a show for P4.

Eventually it was Josh Files (Hell Energy Racing Honda) who won that race-within-a-race thanks to a brilliant defensive drive, ahead of Reece Barr (Target Competition Hyundai), Jean-Karl Vernay (Leopard Lukoil Racing Audi), Igor Stefanovski (Hyundai) and Stian Paulsen (Cupra), with Kris Richard (Target Competition Hyundai) being the only member of the group to drop out of contention because of a contact.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Pit Lane Competizioni’s Giovanni Altoè was the only competitor in the DSG Challenge and was able to drive his Audi RS3 LMS safely to the finish in 18th position, as did Stefano Comini, 21st in the Subaru WRX STI of Race Republic.

Quotes after the first race at Paul Ricard

Dušan Borković (winner): “I was afraid before the start, because I had only made one practice start yesterday and it was not good. But this time it worked well. And then, I did not know how the car would perform over the long distance either, so I had no idea of how much I could push. Just to be safe I did not push to the maximum in the first half, but in the end I was afraid of a tyre failure. The car was understeering in the fast corners, but I managed to keep the advantage over Nagy who is such a quick driver. It’s a great feeling! I was on pole and won the race; the best way to begin the season!”

Dániel Nagy (second): “I’m very happy, with my second podium in a few days after Hungaroring. Here it was more difficult, because I did not know the track, but I was surprised by how quick we could go from the very start, when I was third in Practice 1. We started from there to work on the car and we have done a really good job. In the second part of the race I was trying to put pressure on Dušan, but I outbraked myself and lost contact. So in the last lap I was focused on securing the second place.”

Mikel Azcona (third): “I am very, very happy with this result! I was comfortable with the car from the very beginning and I always managed to be among the fastest drivers from the first practice and with every track conditions. We have worked very well and made a good set up; the car was easy to drive, fast and consistent. It’s a fantastic car!”

Race Two: Borković pips Vernay during the final lap

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Dušan Borković encored his Saturday race win thank to a perfect overtaking manoeuvre on Jean-Karl Vernay during the final lap of the second race at Le Castellet.

An intermittent rain began to fall just while the cars – all on slicks – reached the starting grid and intensified during the first laps, which resulted in a number of drivers spinning or running wide. In these tricky conditions two drivers were in a league of their own: Vernay and Stefano Comini.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

The Frenchman performed an impeccable drive and took the lead during the first lap; as for Comini he put in a great show at the wheel of his Subaru, elbowing his way through the field from 25th on the grid to fifth.

Proceedings were disrupted when Igor Stefanovski crashed heavily, prompting first the safety car and then the red flag.

Before action resumed, a few drivers, including Josh Files and Kris Richard elected to change to rain tyres; the bet didn’t pay off as the rain stopped and the racing lines began to dry. Vernay tried his best to maintain the lead, but couldn’t prevent Borković from passing on the final lap. Dániel Nagy finished on the podium once again, third, inches ahead of Francisco Mora.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Comini dropped to tenth with the consolation of the last spot into the points behind a group of survivors who filled the places between fifth and ninth: Mikel Azcona (third yesterday), Attila Tassi, Jens Reno Møller (who started from pole), Danny Kroes and Loris Cencetti.

With two victories in the opening event, Borković has already built a gap in the standings, scoring 55 points against Nagy’s 36, Azcona’s 29 and Vernay’s 26.

Quotes after the second race at Paul Ricard

Dušan Borković (winner): “While we had been waiting for the race to resume after the red flag, I was saying myself that I was happy with second place. However, as the track began to dry in the final laps I saw that I could make a move and try to overtake Vernay. On the straight his car was faster, but mine was better in cornering. I made a safe attempt and passed him. I wouldn’t have done this if I thought that there was the lesser risk to spoil our race. I’m super happy, it was a great weekend for myself, Target Competition, Hyundai and Serbia!”

Jean-Karl Vernay (second): “I have done all I could. Until the track was wet and slippery I was able to stay ahead, as the car was perfect. But when the racing lines began to dry I knew I had no chance. The Hyundai is far superior by now; I was able to keep Borković at bay until halfway through the final laps, but eventually I could not prevent him from passing me.”

Dániel Nagy (third): “It was a crazy race. Before the red flag the track was very tricky and we must be super focused to avoid mistakes. I drove well and was able to move up to third. After the red flag, I began putting the pressure on Borković, but I also had to defend myself from Mora, who was right behind me. In the end I settled with third, another podium, that put me second in the championship. An excellent start of the season.”

The TCR Europe Series’s second event will be held at Circuit Zandvoort, Netherlands, on 19-21 May.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

So, we’ve had the first round of the 2018 TCR Europe Touring Car Series and as far as I’m concerned, it was a cracker!!!

With 25 drivers taking part on one of the most iconic former F1 tracks over the weekend, the racing was close and also typical of what I enjoy in Touring Car racing: A little bit of contact here and there and some good overtaking action in changing conditions.

Whilst the weather conditions helped with the race two action, it’s still clear that having either a Hyundai, an Audi or a Honda is the best choice of TCR car right now but the CUPRA is now in the mix as well thanks to the BoP adjustment released on Friday.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Ideally I’m hoping that the Volkswagen Golf and the Peugeot will also soon be in the mix too, although seeing Comini drag the Subaru into the top ten in race two despite starting from the back was just brilliant. Vernay, Nagy, Comini, Borkovic, Azcona, Files and many more drivers I could name put on a great show this weekend.

What also made me happy was seeing the mix of former champions racing hard with experienced drivers and the youngsters who are in their first season of TCR Europe that gave no regard for the respect the rest of the drivers deserved and raced hard with them too. Without a doubt we are in for a great season of racing.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

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 WSC / TCR Europe Touring Car Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

The 2018 TCR Europe Series…

So after a winter that has seen many changes in the TCR landscape, one of the last few TCR series gets underway this weekend: The 2018 TCR Europe Series.

As keen fans of TCR Europe will recall, the event has been a one of Cup event last season and before that, it was a series made up of different scoring rounds from different TCR Domestic Series in and around Europe.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

So whats changed for 2018? Well, instead of a one of event, we now have seven rounds that takes in some of the best and well known tracks in Europe. With the introduction of the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR), TCR Europe now becomes the next level of TCR competition as a regional series for drivers looking to move up the ladder.

With the creation of WTCR for 2018, TCR Europe visits quite a few tracks that last year or in previous years have seen TCR action and often provided some great race and overtaking action. Something that TCR is well known for providing and something thats often missing in a lot of Touring Car Series.

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Calendar:

TCR Europe 2018 Calendar

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry:

So, with an expanded calendar, comes a 26 strong driver/team entry…and wow what a list of names we have looking to contest the series and become the 2018 Champion!

However with there being 25 cars and 26 drivers locked in for the 2018 WTCR Season (not sure how that meets the full 26 cars grid expected but anyway..) this has meant that there are drivers who were in either the TCR International Series or the former FIA European Touring Car Cup who will be front runners in this years series.

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Josh Files, Jean-Karl Vernay, Dusan Borkovic, Attilla Tassi, Kris Richard….oh and a certain two time TCR International Series Champion known as the fan favourite Stefano Comini to name a few!!!

Something that rings true with me about this years series is the fact that there a quite a few TCR Champions competing in TCR Europe this year, be they reigning champions or previous champions:

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Josh Files: Two time ADAC TCR Germany Champion and TCR Middle East Champion
Stefano Comini: Two Time TCR International Series Champion
Jean-Karl Vernay: Reigning TCR International Series Champion
Nicola Baldan: Reigning TCR Italy Champion
Francisco Mora: TCR Portugal Champion
Francisco Abreu: Reigning TCR Iberico
Kris Richard: 2016 FIA European Touring Car Cup Champion

These top drivers have made their way to becoming a Champion in either Domestic Series or Internationally and the idea of TCR is that drivers can make their way up the ladder from Domestic to Regional TCR Competition. I’d say its working quite nicely.

The 2018 TCR Europe Series Entry List For Paul Ricard:

2018 TCR Europe Entry List

As you’ll agree, Paul Ricard is looking good already!

Talking of the Circuit, the drivers will be using the full layout. Fast, flowing and with penty of chicanes to use for overtaking. However a good grid position from Qualifying will make life a lot easier on racedays!

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This weekend, TCR action returns to both TCR TV on YouTube and also on Motorsport TV (In the UK). The essence of TCR’s success is online streaming and with TCR Europe being run by Marcello Lotti’s WSC company in 2018 (The same people that ran the TCR International Series) you can expect the same high quality service that fans have seen before the introductio of the Eurosport Evnts run WTCR.

Race One can be found here for Saturday: YouTube

Race Two can be found here for Sunday: YouTube

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

Fans will recognise the lead commetator for TCR Europe as Mark James, the man who has done a lot of TCR International Series commentary and also has been working bhind the brand new TCR UK Series. Mark loves his TCR action and expect more excietment to test his skills as the drivers and teams go all out to get te best start they can in France at Paul Ricard

I’ll be using the TCR Guru blog to cover TCR Europe only in 2018, however I know that its going to be an amaing and exciting season ahead and one I recommend to anyone who enjoys their Touring Car racing and is looking for something new to enjoy or is a returning fan.

TCR Europe Circuit Paul Ricard, Castellet 4 - 6 May 2018

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 TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started in 2018.

All images are used courtesy of WSC / TCR Europe Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

James Nash returns to the BTCC with BTC Norlin for 2018…

BTC Norlin Racing have announced that James Nash will join the BTCC Norlin Racing Team for the 2018 season. They have also revealed a new sponsorship deal with leading home, garden and leisure retailer, The Range.

Bert Taylor, BTC Norlin Racing Team Manager confirmed that James Nash, the former BTCC independent champion, will return to the British Touring Car Championship for the 2018 season with BTC Norlin Racing. Nash will join Chris Smiley on the grid in the team’s new Honda Civic Type-Rs.

TCR International Series Monza 12 - 14 May 2017
Credit: WSC / TCR International Series


“We are really
excited for our prospects in the 2018 season given our two young drivers, James Nash and Chris Smiley and the addition of the new cars. This winning combination gives us every reason to feel confident that we will achieve podium places at each round during the 2018 season.

James has the character and determination to win and is the perfect teammate for Chris Smiley. We are thrilled to welcome him to BTC Norlin Racing.

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Credit: BTCC.net

Commenting on the announcement, James Nash said: I’m absolutely delighted to be joining BTC Norlin Racing and drive with teammate Chris Smiley. Over the winter I’ve been looking at opportunities for 2018 and Norlin made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Their new Honda Civic Type-R cars also attracted me as they have proved that they are one of the cars to beat, ensuring the BTC Norlin Racing Team can be competitive from the get go.

For the past two years, Nash has been a race winner and also a title contender in the TCR International Series for Craft-Bamboo Racing. Before this, he also drove for the WRT Audi team in the Blancpain GT Series. After leaving the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in 2012, he drove for the Team Aon Ford squad in the FIA World Touring Car Championship before joining the Craft-Bamboo Racing squad.

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Chris Smiley. Credit: BTCC.net

Stephen Symington, owner of BTC Norlin Racing, added:

We are delighted to have secured a driver with the capability and reputation of James Nash and his signing is a real statement of our intent to create a winning team. As a previous winner of the Independent Drivers Title, James makes the perfect partner to drive alongside Chris Smiley. With new cars and a new driver, we are in for an exciting season.

BTC Norlin Racing have also announced that they have secured the first new sponsor of 2018, with leading UK retailer The Range.

Commenting on the announcement Stephen said: “We are also delighted to announce The Range as the first new sponsor for the 2018 BTC Norlin Racing team. It seems appropriate that The Range, one of the UK’s fastest growing retailers, has aligned itself to a team which is ambitious, innovative and driven for success.”

BTCCHondaCivic
Credit: BTCC.net

Confirming the sponsorship, entrepreneurial founder and owner of The Range, Chris Dawson, said: “As a growing retailer our focus is on expanding our retail footprint with new store openings in key locations. Through this exciting partnership with BTC Norlin Racing, we will build our reputation as a leading home, garden and leisure retailer, building our customer engagement across the UK and Ireland.”

Richard Irwin, Director at Norlin, added The BTCC experience offers a fantastic opportunity for any brand seeking to build customer engagement through the large and defined audience which this sport attracts through its TV broadcast, social media and trackside mediums.”

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Credit: FIA WTCC

“Our association with BTCC has enhanced our own brand and helped us engage with clients and customers in a meaningful way. We are delighted The Range have chosen our team for sponsorship and we look forward to welcoming them and their guests to the BTC Norlin Racing hospitality tent this year.