TCR UK 2018: The National and International Possibilities……

As I wrote this post on a cold and wet Saturday morning in Milton Keynes, I can happily say that the buildup to the TCR UK Series Media Day is less than 30 days away. March 6th at Silverstone will see the announcement of the full entry list of drivers and teams for the first ever TCR series in the UK.

However, I’m going to admit that I have been contacted by quite a few people who have had concerns about whether the series is going ahead this year. Let me answer that question straight away for you:

THE TCR UK SERIES IS HAPPENING!!! THIS IS A FACT!!!

There is no question of this. Anywhere you read that it’s not happening or is dead, please disregard! If you want it from the organisers themselves, they will happily confirm the series is happening.

Now with this in mind, I thought I would put together a post with 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.

If you are a regular reader of my blog then you will recognise that a lot of this list was published in my TCR UK article at the end of last year.

Now, let me make this next point perfectly clear: This is not a list of entrants confirmed for 2018. When the BRSCC/TCR UK see fit to announce an official entry list, you can be sure that the Guru will happily publish this!

The National Interest / Possibilities:

Sean Walkinshaw Racing: Honda Civic TCR

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The former Boutsen-Ginion Honda now run by SWR. Credit: Sean Walkinshaw Racing

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

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Finlay Crocker in the TCR Italy Series. Credit: Pyro Motorsport

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

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Carl Swift at Brands Hatch. Credit: Marl Paulson Social Media

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.

Tom Boardman: Audi RS3 LMS TCR

Tom Boardman is well-known to the fans of Touring car racing. The former Special Tuning Racing driver campaigned a Super 2000 spec SEAT Leon both in the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Back in January, the former SEAT driver posted the image above on his Instagram account of an Audi RS3 LMS TCR. This could lead to a potential entry in the series and it would also see the return of Boardman to high profie racing since his last season of BTCC back in 2011.

Lewis Kent Racing: Hyundai i30 N TCR

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017
The Hyundai i30 N TCR in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

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

TCR International Series Hungaroring, Hungary 16 - 18 June 2017
Stian Paulsen in the SEAT León TCR in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

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.

MellioSport: Audi RS3 LMS TCR

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The Audi RS3 LMS TCR in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

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.

VFR Racing: 2018 Honda Civic TCR

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The Honda Civic FK8 TCR. Credit: TCR Series

VFR Racing are well placed to put the new 2018 Honda Civic TCR through its paces after they have run a Honda Civic TCR Type 2 with british driver Finlay Crocker at the wheel. Crocker has seen action on both the TCR Italy Series and also in the ADAC TCR Germany Series.

With the new Honda already confirmed to compete in the new FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) with the Boutsen-Ginion squad as well as having already had its Endurance debut in the 2018 24 Hours of Dubai, expect to see both Crocker and VFR Racing well in the mix.

Now, those are the Teams/Drivers that I’m aware of who have announced an entry or potential entry for 2018, however there is more to come and plenty more cars out there that I don’t know about…

The International Interest / Possibilities…

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017
The 2017 TCR International Series in Germany. Credit: TCR Series

During my interview with Mark James at the 2018 Autosport International Show, he explained that there has been International interest in the series with a lot of teams seeing TCR UK as a potential series to enter alongside other programmes.

Again, I highlight the fact that none of these have been confirmed in any way, but interest has been lodged with the TCR UK Series. Here are the teams that have been highlighted so far…

Craft-Bamboo Racing

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017
Craft-Bamboo Racing in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

Craft-Bamboo Racing have been a staple part of the TCR International Series since it began in 2015 with a driver lineup of Pepe Oriola, Jordi Gene and Sergey Afanasyev. Another staple part of the team has been their use of SEAT Leon TCR cars where both Oriola and later James Nash were title contenders in both 2015 and 2016 respectively.

However back in September 2017, Touring Car Times published an article on their website where Team CEO Richard Coleman explained that a dual programme that involved both TCR UK and TCR International Series. However this was before the announcement of WTCR.

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017
Craft-Bamboo Racing in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

Coleman explained in the interview that:

“We are considering TCR UK but would only do so for the right drivers or prospects, We would also be interested in running something white label for somebody else from our Silverstone facility if it adds up; we have a lot of TCR knowledge and know the UK circuit well.”

As the team are evaluating their options for 2018, with a possible change of car for any campaign they run during the year, having this TCR powerhouse involved with TCR UK would surely spur on the competition. Craft-Bamboo Racing are also known for normally running three cars in TCR competition so a two car entry would be almost certain.

WestCoast Racing

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017
WestCoast Racing in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

WestCoast Racing are another team that have been involved in the TCR International Series from the beginning, where they ran Honda Civic’s for the first two seasons with Italian tintop legend and former F1 driver Gianni Morbidelli at the helm.

In 2017 they moved from Honda’s to the Volkswagen Golf TCR and after a first half of the season where they were struggling to get into the top ten, the cars came on song and saw Morbidelli take a double win in Germany.

Also in September last year, Touring Car Times published an article on their website where Team Manager James Nixon confirmed that the team had been in touch with TCR UK promoter Jonathan Ashman and that they were looking to have a programme in place:

TCR International Series Salzburgring, Austria 9 - 11 June 2017
WestCoast Racing in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

“We’ve had some discussions with TCR UK promoter Jonathan Ashman and I’m impressed with his plans for the new British series, We’re now looking at the viability of joining in 2018. We’re a winning outfit and we have the resources to make that happen in the UK. We’ll now start talks with potential drivers and hope to firm up our plans in the short to medium term.”

In the same thought as having Craft Bamboo Racing in TCR UK, having this TCR powerhouse involved would mean having two of the biggest heavyweights in TCR history going toe to toe with each other on UK soil. Right there is one reason why the series would grab headlines in the UK and International Motorsport press.

WestCoast Racing have run up to three cars in TCR competition before moving to a two car operation in 2017, so a two car entry would be almost certain should the team confirm an entry.

Bas Koeten Racing

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Bas Koeten Racing in the 2017 TCR BeNeLux Series. Credit: Bas Koeten Racing

Bas Koeten Racing are another international who have taken part in TCR competition from the very beginning. I kid you not when I say that these guys have raced almost everywhere in TCR Competition: TCR International Series, TCR BeNeLux, ADAC TCR Germany, The TCR class in the 24Hours Series and the list goes on!

The team have a fleet of both SEAT Leon TCR cars and the Audi RS3 LMS TCR cars as well so it’s not uncommon to think that they could have an entry in a new Domestic TCR Series. This could be either a mix of SEAT’s and Audi’s or a specific two car entry for the same make.

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Bas Koeten Racing in the 2017 TCR BeNeLux Series. Credit: Bas Koeten Racing

With the UK having such a big Touring Car fan base as well, this would open up the team to a new audience and also give them the chance to show off their racecraft and skills outside of the European TCR Arena.

The benefit of the TCR UK Calendar is that this doesn’t clash withe 2018 TCR Europe and TCR Benelux Calendars, so again a dual programme could be possible! Now my final “potential” entrant might be a bit of a surprise…but stick with me on this one, there’s some solid thinking behind this choice.

Team Target Competition

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The Team Target Competition Hyundai i30 N TCR that will compete in the 2018 TCR Europe Series. Credit: Team Target Competition

As I’ve pointed out earlier in this post, the benefit of the TCR UK Calendar is that this doesn’t clash with 2018 TCR Europe and TCR Benelux Calendars, so a dual programme is always possible! However it also raises another option: Teams from abroad could use the earlier start date of TCR UK as a test session to bed in their new cars.

Team Target Competition are another team who could potentially make an entry in the series. They already have experience of the ADAC TCR Germany Series, the TCR Europe Cup and the TCR Italy Series and have seen title success with Josh Files.

There is always the chance they could add the UK title to their belts, especially as the team has announced that Reece Barr will race one of the three Hyundai’s already confirmed for their 2018 TCR Europe campaign as well as a second programme in TCR Italy with 2018 Honda’s…

Stefano Comini

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Stefano Comini in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

“What??? Comini??? In the UK???” I hear you all say? “Never, he’d never race in the UK!”

Follow my thinking for a moment… The Guru hasn’t gone mad just quite yet…

So back in 2015, Autosport released an article where Comini, who had just secured his first TCR International Series, explained that he would love to have a chance to driver in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship:

“I want to do a BTCC round,” Comini told Autosport. “This is one of my dreams. I have a lot of respect for BTCC – really more than the World Touring Car Championship, which is boring now. BTCC is a proper touring car championship.”

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Stefano Comini in the 2017 TCR International Series. Credit: TCR Series

Now whilst this was three years ago, Comini has also done some guest appearances for the Top Run Italia Motorsport team in 2017, where he drove the Subaru Impreza at both Imola and Monza.

So, with his dream of wanting to race in the BTCC, a series that is difficult to get into unless you have a large budget that gives you a guaranteed ride for the entire season…why not race in the new TCR UK series? it makes sense.

Comini already has knowledge of four different TCR cars from his career so far: The SEAT Leon TCR, the Volkswagen Golf TCR, the Audi RS3 LMS TCR and the Subaru, so setup knowledge wouldn’t be an issue. The two time TCR International Series is also very good at adapting to new circuits so that wouldn’t present an issue either.

Stefano Comini (Top Run Motorsport,Subaru STI TCR #99)
Stefano Comini driving the Top Run Motorsport Subaru STI TCR in the 2017 TCR Italy Series. Credit: ACI Sport / TCR Italy

Also, imagine the entry list with Comini on board. I can see the headlines now: “Two time TCR International Series joins TCR UK Series!”…

OK, that would be mine anyway…

Besides the fact that the new for 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) has confirmed that they have all 26 slot filled for the season ahead and that if he can’t get a ride, its highly possible he’ll appear as a contender in the 2018 TCR Europe Series… but don’t rule out the chance that this popular character could make a visit to the UK.

The Brits from Abroad!!!

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Josh Files driving the Team Target Competition Honda Civic TCR in the 2017 TCR Europe Cup. Credit: WSC / TCR Europe

There is always the possibility of the British drivers who have competed in overseas TCR Series to have a go at winning the title for the first ever TCR UK Series as well and lets face it, we have some of the best TCR drivers in the world challenging for race wins and titles!

Josh Files is a three-time TCR Champion, having won the ADAC TCR Germany Series two years in a row and winning the inaugural TCR middle East Series. Add in fellow Brit Alex Morgan who has also raced in the ADAC TCR Germany Series and there is great pedigree already from two drivers who know how to race in a large and competitive field of TCR cars.

James Nash competed for Craft-Bamboo Racing for two years in the TCR International Series were he took several wins and in his first year was in the fight for the Drivers Title straight away. Add in his experience of the UK circuits from his days in the BTCC and again, this is an intriguing thought. With Finlay Crocker already announced to race in TCR UK, Nash would be a great addition to the series and well adapted to TCR Machinery.

What the Guru Thinks…

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So all in all, whilst not all of these driver/team suggestions and entries have been formally announced, I’m hopeful that there will be a grid size of up to 20 cars for the first season of the TCR UK Series. I think this is an achievable figure myself, however many would disagree…and probably will.

When you consider that there is a lot of interest for the series, this would be quite a decent number to start of with. Remember that ADAC TCR Germany started off with 26 entries and that is for a series that has the DTM to contend with as the country’s top tintop series. Although the DTM is a Manufacturer led series, the fact that there is a large contingent of TCR entries shows that a Domestic TCR Series can work with a much stronger Domestic Tintop series already established.

However, whats been made clear by the organisers is that they will release a full entry list on 6th March. Should drivers or teams wish to go pubic with their entry for TCR UK then that’s something that is encouraged and is supported by the TCR UK Organisers.

Whilst I do all that I can to support the series, I can only guess how many people are involved and entered as I won’t know the full entry myself… until 6th March, just like the rest of you.

kevin Giacon (Opel Astra-TCR-TCR #15)
Kevin Giacon driving the Opel Astra TCR in the 2017 TCR Italy Series. Credit: ACI Sport / TCR Italy

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!

Phil!!!

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2018 TCR Middle East Series Review: Dubai…

The middle two rounds of the 2018 TCR Middle East Series took place at the Dubai International Circuit on Saturday, so heres the TCR Guru roundup of all the action that took place in both Qualifying and the two races…

Giacomo Altoè and Luca Engstler shared wins at Abu Dhabi

2018-2018 Abu Dhabi Race 1---Race 1 start_01

The opening event of the 2018 TCR Middle East International Series delivered a couple of eventful races at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

Giacomo Altoè (Audi RS3 LMS run by Pit Lane Competizioni) and Luca Engstler (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI) emerged as the race winners and left Abu Dhabi as first and second in the standings.

2018-2018 Abu Dhabi Friday---10 Giacomo Altoe_05

In Race 1 Altoè converted his pole position into a victory. The Italian driver sprinted at the start and never looked back, as he was able to keep Mat’o Homola’s Volkswagen Golf GTI at bay in the first part of the race before increasing his leading gap in the final laps.
Homola maintained the second place, although he was closely chased by the Liqui Moly Team Engstler duo of Engstler and Florian Thoma who delivered a thrilling fight for the third position.

In the second race TCR returnee Lorenzo Veglia crossed the line first. He led for most of the race ahead of Thoma and Engstler, but the final laps were red-hot. On lap 15 Thoma clashed with Veglia and took the lead ahead of Engstler.

However, two laps later the young Swiss was forced to retire with a broken suspension. Engstler inherited the lead, but on the last lap he and Veglia made contact; the Italian got the better of the situation and crossed the line first, with a slim margin. Kai Jordan finished a comfortable third ahead of Giacomo Altoè and Homola.

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After the race, Veglia was given a 30-second penalty for hitting Engstler on the final lap. This dropped Italian from first to eighth, while Engstler inherited victory, with Kai Jordan and Giacomo Altoè promoted to second and third respectively.

Giacomo Altoè is the series’ first leader with 45 points, while Engstler is second, only one point adrift. Homola lies third with 33 points.

Giacomo Altoè to have maximum Success Ballast

The allocation of Success Ballast for the second race meeting of the TCR Middle East International Series follows the championship standings.

2018-2018 Dubai Race 1---10 Giacomo Altoe_07

Giacomo Altoè, who won the opening race in Abu Dhabi and is currently on top of the Drivers’ classification with 45 points will carry the maximum ballast of 30 kilos on board of his Audi RS3 LMS.

The 20 kilos for the second best scorer will be on Luca Engstler’s Volkswagen Golf GTI, as the young German won Abu Dhabi’s Race 2 and is currently second in the standings, one point behind Altoè.

Mat’o Homola – third with 33 points – will be given 10 kilos of ballast.
As a result, the running weights of the first three cars will be: Altoè’s Audi DSG 1285 kg (1250 + 5 BoP + 30 ballast); Engstler’s Golf SEQ 1285 (1285 – 20 BoP + 20 SB); Homola’s Golf DSG 1235 kg (1250 – 25 BoP + 10 SB).

Luca Engstler wins pole position with an amazing lap

Luca Engstler completed a lap of Dubai’s International Circuit with the amazing lap time of 1:44.454 that gave him pole position for Round 3 of the TCR Middle East international series.

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The young German drove his Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI car to smash the 1:45 barrier, while all his competitors remained above that mark. His performance was even more remarkable when considering the 20 kilos of Success Ballast he has to carry.

With a last gasp effort Giacomo Altoè was able to post the second fastest lap of 1:45.127, but still with a gap of nearly seven tenths from Engstler. The Italian too was fighting against the weight, carrying 30 kilos of ballast on board of his Audi RS3 LMS.
This result placed Engstler and Altoè as joint leaders in the standings on equal points.

2018-2018 Dubai Race 1---13 Kai Jordan_02

Kai Jordan confirmed his consistent progress and qualified in a brilliant third position with the time of 1:45.271, just ahead of Danny Kroes (1:45.369) and Mat’o Homola (1:45.411).

Florian Thoma (1:45.670) ranked sixth, with Jordi Oriola and Giovanni Altoè behind him having clocked the same lap time (1:46.316).

Costas Papantonis qualified tenth and will be on pole position on the reverse grid for Race 2 – just like in Abu Dhabi last week – and will have Martin Ryba alongside him.
Lorenzo Veglia could not post a decent lap time due to a broken rear suspension; he will be forced to start from 11th in both 14-lap races.

Drivers’ quotes after the Qualifying session

2018-2018 Dubai Race 2---Luca Engstler

Luca Engstler (pole position): “It was a crazy lap! I knew it was good and I expected to see a 45.0 or maybe a high 44. But when I saw 44.4, I couldn’t believe my eyes! The set up we chose was perfect for qualifying, the car was balanced and performance was not affected by the ballast. But now we have to find something different for the races, because this set up would be too tough with the tyres over the distance. Dubai is really my favourite track: I won last year in TCR Middle East – my first ever Touring Car race – and two weeks ago in the 24 hours.”

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Giacomo Altoè (2nd fastest): “I’m quite pleased as it was an unexpected result. We had struggled in the practice sessions and eventually decided to try something different and it paid off. My qualifying lap was really on the limit! I was amazed by Luca’s performance; he has been incredibly quick and it seems that the ballast is not causing him as many problems as it does to us. For sure the ballast will be a factor in the races, in terms of tyre and brake wear. We have to find how to manage them in the best possible way.”

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Kai Jordan (3rd fastest): “I’m very happy. My goal was to qualify between third and fifth and I did third. I couldn’t expect anything better than this. We have worked a lot to change the set up from the beginning of the first practice and we finally found a configuration that suits my driving style. I have managed to be faster lap by lap and to reduce the braking spaces. Now, my next goal is to finish on the podium again…”

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Danny Kroes (4th fastest): “Fourth was not a bad result for my first Qualifying in the Audi. However, I have lost a couple of tenths in my fastest lap, otherwise I could have been second. Now I will try to be on the podium in the first race.”

Team Engstler duo makes a clean sweep as Luca Engstler and Florian Thoma share race victories

The Liqui Moly Team Engstler emerged as the ruling force from the second race meeting of the 2018 TCR Middle East International Series at the Dubai Autodrome.

2018-2018 Dubai Race 1---39 Florian Thoma_04.jpg

After winning pole position on Saturday with Luca Engstler, the German team dominated both races with Luca himself and Florian Thoma. And it was not by chance, because these were the team’s fourth and fifth consecutive victories at Dubai, following those in last year’s TCR Middle East opening event (by Luca and Brandon Gdovic) and that obtained two weeks ago in the 24H Dubai (again by Luca, Thoma, Jean-Karl Vernay and Benjamin Leuchter).

Such a brilliant streak of wins proved that this racetrack has no secrets for the team’s crew that knows how to set up their Volkswagen Golf cars here, even in spite of the Success Ballast.

In fact, none of the other drivers was able to stay on Engstler’s and Thoma’s pace. Not even Giacomo Altoè who struggled for the whole weekend with the 30 kilos of Success Ballast that significantly affected the performance of his Audi RS3 LMS.

2018-2018 Dubai Race 1---44 Lorenzo Veglia_04

Both races provided some fighting. Lorenzo Veglia elbowed his way through the field in Race 1 and recovered from 11th on the grid to third at the chequered flag. He seemed to be able to improve that record in Race 2 as he crossed the line second, but was then hit by a penalty for a race incident, just like in Abu Dhabi’s Race 2 when he was stripped of the victory.

In the second race Mat’o Homola survived a final lap full of contacts to collect a well deserved second place, while Giovanni Altoè failed to claim his first podium result after he got the worst of the battle.

The title fight has now taken a clear shape as a two-way battle between Engstler (89 points) and Giacomo Altoè (75), with Homola in third position (64) waiting for them to make a false step.

Race One: Luca Engstler in a league of his own

2018-2018 Dubai Race 1---Race 1 start06

Luca Engstler dominated the third round of the TCR Middle East International Series, inflicting a six-second gap to Giacomo Altoè. Lorenzo Veglia completed the podium.
Engstler made good use of his pole position and sprinted to the lead.

His Volkswagen Golf car fitted with new front tyres, the German youngster was able to set a very fast pace in the first laps, creating a gap that Altoé was not able to fill.

Thinking about the championship, the Italian focused on bringing his car to the second place and keeping a rampant Veglia at bay. The latter made up of yesterday’s disappointing qualifying result that relegated him to 11th on the grid. He got past four or five cars at the start and then recovered up to third overtaking Kai Jordan and Mat’o Homola.

Race Two: Florian Thoma imitates his team-mate

2018-2018 Dubai Race 2---Race 2 Start

After Luca Engstler’s authoritative win in the first race, his teammate Florian Thoma provided the icing on the cake for the Liqui Moly Team Engstler by claiming victory in Race 2 in a similar way.

The Swiss was able to start well from the third row of the grid, took the lead from Giovanni Altoè on the first lap and then benefited from the fights behind him to pull away and score his first win in the series, his second in TCR after that in the opening event of last year’s ADAC TCR Germany at Oschersleben.

The battle for the second place was red-hot between Giovanni Altoè, Mat’o Homola, Lorenzo Veglia and Engstler. A series of clashes on the final lap ended up with Veglia crossing the line second, followed by Homola, Engstler and Altoè.

But Veglia was later demoted by a 30-second penalty for a previous incident with Costas Papantonis. Giovanni’s younger brother Giacomo was classified sixth after struggling to recover.

Quotes from the podium finishers in both races

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Luca Engstler (winner of Race 1 and third in Race 2): “In the first race my car was absolutely brilliant! Compared to the others I had a big advantage: new front tyres that I had saved from yesterday’s practice sessions. This made me able to push during the first laps like in qualifying. In this way I created a comfortable gap and then I just had to control the race in the second half, taking care of the tyres and brakes.

The second race was a tough one. I was driving very aggressively in the first laps, fighting with Veglia. Then I said to myself that it was better to try and follow him, because he could open the way. And it worked. The car was good, but of course not as good as in the first race, because when you have to fight for the positions it’s completely different. For example, when I was trailing the cars in front of me the water temperature peaked over 100°. Eventually the third place was a great result for the title fight.” 

2018-2018 Dubai Friday---39 Florian Thoma_05

Florian Thoma (winner of Race 2): “I have to say that it was quite easy at the beginning, because I managed to overtake a lot of cars at the start and then took the lead very early. After that it was just normal driving until the end. I really have to give credit to the team for the incredible job they have done. They gave Luca and me two cars that were really faster than the others and did no give us any problems in both races. Now my goal is to finish the championship on the podium.”

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Giacomo Altoè (second in Race 1): “From the beginning I was struggling a lot. I did my best to save tyres and brakes keeping a steady pace at the beginning of the race. However, with the 30 kilos of success ballast I couldn’t prevent them to wear significantly. All considered, second was a good result.”

2018-2018 Dubai Race 2---70 Mato Homola_01

Mato Homola (second in Race 2): “I tried my best to recover positions at the beginning of the race, but Giovanni Altoè was really driving fast. It was not possible to overtake him on the straight and I began to have some issues with the cooling of the engine. I tried several time to overtake him, but always avoiding to make contact. Then Veglia overtook me, but with all the clashes on the last lap, luckily I was classified second. I want to thank my team, and especially my mechanic Sergio. He did a great job. We cannot talk because he only speaks Italian, but he’s a nice guy and I really like him.” 

2018-2018 Dubai Friday---44 Lorenzo Veglia_02

Lorenzo Veglia (third in Race 1): “I took a great start and was able to pass three or four cars straight away. And then I managed to overtake some other drivers one by one without losing time. I had a very good pace and managed to closed the gap on Giacomo, but I couldn’t catch him up.”

The series will come to its end at the Bahrain International Circuit on February 23rd and 24th.

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, Regional & Domestic TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

Please take note that all images used in this blog post are used courtesy of
WSC / TCR Middle East Series.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

 

 

TCR UK Announces Broadcast Package for 2018 Season…

The TCR UK Series has confirmed its Broadcasting plans for the opening season of the Championship that gets underway on 31st March on the Silverstone National Circuit.

TCR UK will have every race streamed live on a variety of platforms, including Facebook Live, YouTube and the TCR portal, while TV stations including Front Runner, Motorsport TV and Sky Sports will also broadcast the series.

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The confirmation of Motorsport TV upholds a tradition for TCR Series racing as the channel has been the primary broadcaster in the UK for the TCR International Series, The TCR Asia Series and the TCR Europe Trophy. This announcement means that both TCR UK and The TCR Europe Series will be live on Motorsport TV in 2018.

Pro-Active Broadcast will handle the production for both the live stream and the broadcast programmes. The company has 28 years of experience in producing dynamic sports coverage, delivering broadcast services to clients around the world.  They also have a long history of motorsport coverage for successful endurance racing championships such as Britcar, the Fun Cup and previously TGP F1.

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Pro-Active Broadcast’s more recent outside broadcast projects include live coverage of the Varsity Rugby Match from Twickenham for the BBC, the Africa vs. UK international boxing event from Manchester and selected FA Cup and Women’s Premier League football for BT Sport.

The company is currently the broadcast partner for the live coverage of the Modern Pentathlon World Cup series and the Dubai Rugby 7s for World Rugby, as well as recent streaming providers for the Air Race 1 World Cup in Thailand and the Star Sailing Finals in the Bahamas. 

The Commenary team for TCR UK will consist of Bryn Lucas, who has hosted coverage of events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Autosport International Show, while Andy McEwan’s voice will be familiar from his circuit commentary plus broadcast and online coverage of a number of series, including several BRSCC championships.

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Mark James, Media Coordinator for TCR UK commented on todays announcement.

“The announcement we’re making today means that everything is now in place for our first season. We think Pro-Active will be fantastic partners and the channels have all shown great enthusiasm for the championship.”

“I’m particularly looking forward to working with Bryn and Andy as our presentation team and I’m sure the fans will enjoy superb coverage of what we are confident will be close, exciting racing this year.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

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, Regional & Domestic TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

Please note that all images in this blog post are used courtesy of WSC / TCR International Series / TCR Europe Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2018 TCR Middle East Series: Abu Dhabi…

The first two rounds of the 2018 TCR Middle East Series took place at the Yas Marina International Circuit on Saturday, so heres the TCR Guru roundup of all the action that took place in both Qualifying and the two races…

Giacomo Altoè wins pole position for the opening race

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It was a thrilling Qualifying session at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit that saw Giacomo Altoè setting pole position by a very slim gap for the opening event of the 2018 TCR Middle East series.

The young Italian moved up to the top of the time sheet when there were only ten minutes left in the session. Altoè clocked a provisional fastest lap of 1:47.710 that was only 20 thousandths of a second faster than Luca Engstler 1:14.730.

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A few moments later they both improved – Altoè to 1:14.569 and Engstler to 1:14.673 – locking up the front row for Race 1. Mat’o Homola (1:14.782) and Florian Thoma (1:14.851) ranked third and fourth, two and three tenths from the pole respectively.

Kai Jordan claimed a brilliant fifth place (1:15.021) ahead of a trio of drivers who were all covered by four hundreds of a second: Jordi Oriola (1:15.263), Giovanni Altoè (1:15.267) and Lorenzo Veglia (1:15.305). Alberto Vescovi was sixth, not far away (1:15.619), while Costas Papantonis was disappointed; in fact he was forced to stop early by an issue with the rear suspension that prevented him from repeating the times he had set earlier in Practice.

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As a consolation he will be on pole position of the top-ten reverse grid for Race 2. A place that Martin Ryba missed by only four hundreds of a second.

Drivers’ quotes after the Qualifying session

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Giacomo Altoè (pole position): “I’m over the moon. We have been able to show the great potential of our car. Everything worked perfectly and it was a great result, for the team and for myself. We have worked very well in setting up the car and this paid off as my pole position time was very impressive.”

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Luca Engstler (2nd fastest): “It was really close. The team has done a very good job and I was confident I could set pole position myself. Unfortunately I made a small mistake in my fastest lap, otherwise I could have beaten Giacomo. But I’m very happy with the car and tomorrow I want to win the first race.”

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Mat’o Homola (3rd fastest): “I’m happy. I was improving every lap, as I had to get used to the car that is very different from the one I drove last year. It is a good result, but because the gaps between the top four drivers are so small, I’m also a bit disappointed. In fact, taking away two tenths would have meant to be on pole.”

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Florian Thoma (4th fastest): “I really tried my best, but it was not enough. I have lost something in the last sector and this cost me a couple of tenths. However, I feel good in the car and I’m confident for the races.”

Giacomo Altoè and Luca Engstler shares victories as a penalty deprives Lorenzo Veglia of a Race 2 win

The opening event of the 2018 TCR Middle East International Series delivered a couple of eventful races at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

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Giacomo Altoè (Audi RS3 LMS run by Pit Lane Competizioni) and Luca Engstler (Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI) emerged as the race winners and left Abu Dhabi as first and second in the standings.

Altoè claimed an authoritative lights-to-flag victory in Race 1 from a trio of Golf cars driven by Mat’o Homola, Engstler and Florian Thoma.

The second race was much more exciting with a tough battle for the lead between Lorenzo Veglia, Thoma and Engstler. The three made a few contacts that forced Thoma to retire with a broken suspension while in first position and then cost Veglia a 30-second penalty for hitting and passing Engstler on the final lap.

Race 1 – Giacomo Altoè wins from Homola and Engstler

Giacomo Altoè converted his pole position into a victory in the opening event of the TCR Middle East International Series at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

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The Italian driver sprinted at the start in his Audi RS3 LMS and never looked back, as he was able to keep Mat’o Homola’s Volkswagen Golf GTI at bay in the first part of the race before increasing his leading gap in the final laps.

Homola was able to maintain the second place, although he was closely chased by the Liqui Moly Team Engstler duo of Luca Engstler and Florian Thoma who also delivered a thrilling fight for the third position.

Behind them, Lorenzo Veglia overtook Kai Jordan for fifth.

Race 2 – Veglia beats Engstler after making contact

TCR returnee Lorenzo Veglia crossed the line first at the end of a closely-fought second race at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

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After taking the front at the start, Veglia led most of the race ahead of Liqui Moly Team Engstler teammates Florian Thoma and Luca Engstler. The final laps were red-hot, with Thoma trying to find a gap; on lap 15 the young Swiss clashed with Veglia at Turn 7 and took the lead ahead of Engstler. However, two laps later Thoma was forced to retire with a broken suspension.

Engstler inherited the lead, but on the last lap he and Veglia made contact; the Italian got the better of the situation and crossed the line first, with a slim margin.

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Kai Jordan finished a comfortable third ahead of Race 1 winner Giacomo Altoè and Mat’o Homola.

After the race, Veglia was given a 30-second penalty for hitting Engstler on the final lap. This dropped Italian from first to eighth, while Engstler inherited victory, with Kai Jordan and Giacomo Altoè promoted to second and third respectively.

Quotes from the podium finishers in both Races

2018-2018 Abu Dhabi Race 1---10 Giacomo Altoe_04

Giacomo Altoè (Race 1 winner): “I’m super happy. I was able to make a good start and I had a very good pace to keep the lead for the whole distance. The car’s set up was perfect and everything went well. I tried not to push too much in the first half of the race to save the tyres, and this helped me to stretch my gap in the final laps.”

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Mat’o Homola (second in Race 1): “I made a very good start, overtaking Luca. Maybe I could have tried to pass Giacomo as well, but I had some issues with the gearbox. Then I followed him, but his car was faster on the straight and in the quick corners. I was pushing like hell, hoping that he would make a mistake, but he didn’t. Second place in the first race is good.”

2018-2018 Abu Dhabi Race 1---8 Luca Engstler_02

Luca Engstler (Race 2 winner and third in Race 1): “These were tough races. In the first one I had a lot of understeer and lost contact with Homola in the first half. And then I had to defend my third place from Thoma. In the second race I was in the lead, braked in the usual position, turned in and Veglia crashed into the back of my car. I’m a bit angry, because he didn’t say sorry, but I’m pleased that the Stewards decided to act.”

2018-2018 Abu Dhabi Friday---44 Lorenzo Veglia_04

Lorenzo Veglia: “I was very pleased and satisfied. I didn’t think I could be so competitive on my comeback to TCR after two years of GT racing. It was a tough and thrilling race. At the beginning it looked easy, because I had a small gap, but then the two Engstler boys were on my back and it was difficult to keep them behind. We made a few contacts, but it’s part of the Touring Car game. I don’t think there was something beyond the rules.”

2018-2018 Abu Dhabi Friday---13 Kai Jordan_03

Kay Jordan (third in Race 2): “I made e very good start and jumped to third. This gave me a big boost to fight for the position and I was able to keep a good pace for the whole race. I’m an old man and finishing ahead of young and fast drivers like Giacomo and Homola was great, especially when you think that I hadn’t raced for six months due to a problem with a leg.”

2018-2018 Abu Dhabi Friday---17 Martin Ryba_07

Giacomo Altoè left Abu Dhabi as the first series’ leader with 45 point, while Engstler is second, only one point adrift. Homola lies in third position with 33 points. The championship will resume next week (26 and 27 January) at the Dubai Autodrome for rounds 3 and 4.

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, Regional & Domestic TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

2018-2018 Abu Dhabi Friday---9 Costas Papantonis_06

Please note that all images in this blog post are used courtesy of WSC / TCR Middle East Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

 

 

TCR Guru at the 2018 Autosport International Show…

During my recent visit to the 2018 Autosport International Show in Birmingham, I was finally able to get up close to some amazing TCR machinery and I also had the chance to speak to Mark James, who is part of the TCR Media Team.

Whilst at #ASI18 I enjoyed having a closer look at several TCR cars which included the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic TCR, SEAT Leon TCR, Opel Astra TCR. I have to say that having watched the TCR International Series on TV/Online for the past three seasons it was eye-opening to see these cars up close as I did.

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I have to say, first of all that the cars are bigger than they on TV. Obviously!

I was very impressed with the various cars, the technology used in them and also the various bodykits that have been developed by the Manufacturers to get every last piece of aero possible…and the fact that they all seem very similar as well.

Being a life long Vauxhall Touring Car fan, I have to say that the Japo Motorsport Astra was my favourite car to visit, however both the SWR Honda Civic and the Motorbase VW Golf are tied for second as they are both good looking cars. Apparently there were seven cars at the show so I seemed to have missed one somewhere…

Interview with Mark James…

Whilst at the 2018 Autosport International Show in Birmingham, I had the chance to speak to Mark James, who is part of the TCR Media Team and has commentated on the TCR International Series as well as working in the Pits/Paddock. I asked Mark about his thoughts on recent developments in the world of TCR.

How excited are you about the first season of TCR UK Series which starts in March?

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“So I have two answers for this question, First, Professionally: I think its great, with the UK being a very big and important Marketplace for Motorsport and its also a very big marketplace for many of the brands that you have in TCR. The fact that the likes of Audi, SEAT, Volkswagen and Hyundai to name a few are interested is great and its also the fact that the cars look very similar to what you see on the road every day.”

“As well as this the UK has a long history of Touring Car racing with the BTCC celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year as an example.”

TCR International Series Dubai, UAE 16 - 18 November 2017

“Secondly, Personally: I’m a Brit! I grew up spectating on the BTCC and working in Motorsport so I’m delighted to see a TCR Series come to the UK. However that said, it was never a priority 4 years ago to have a TCR Series in the UK. Marcello Lotti explained at the 2015 ASI that the priority was to bring TCR to countries that were struggling to establish a Touring Car Championship.”

“That’s definitely not the case in the UK and it was Jonathan Ashman (TCR UK Promoter and former FIA Touring Car President) who approached Marcello Lotti and explained that 2018 was the right year to have a TCR UK Series. Judging by the reaction and interest we’ve had, he was spot on with that thinking.”

There seems to be a lot of disagreement about where TCR UK fits in the UK Motorsport hierarchy, where would you say many should see this series in that hierarchy?

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“Quite simply we are a level below the BTCC. The TCR regulations fit in nicely under the NGTC regulations but are also an ideal next step for those drivers and teams who have competed in single make tintop categories as well.”

“We are in no way a threat to the BTCC, in effect we are a feeder series for it with budgets that are lower than its costs to run tin the BTCC. The cars are cheaper and slightly slower but this does allow for exciting racing.”

Are there any plans in place for TV Coverage and or Online Streaming for the TCR UK Series this year? TCR Racing is well known for its Online Streaming which has set it out from other Touring Car series around the world.

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“From the very first meeting I had with Jonathan Ashman last year in Monza, we’ve always said that the number one priority for this series is to have Live Streaming. It’s worked so well for TCR that its built the awareness for the various series around the world from zero to being an expectation of any TCR Series that Live Streaming is in place.”

“For example I can sit at home and watch TCR Russia, TCR Scandinavia, TCR China, TCR Asia or any number of TCR series. These series are being streamed either through the TCR Portal or on any number of Social Media Streaming sites such as YouTube or Facebook Live. In contrast to that, where Series have not embraced this type of coverage, there has been a negative response from fans and the like.”

With this in mind, have you been approached by interested parties to show TCR UK coverage online or on TV?

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“Fans expect to be able to have access to TCR Racing whether its online or through a Free to air TV Channel, but they also expect to have Free Access to the racing and that’s where the TCR UK Series wants to be as well. TCR UK will have the likes of Facebook, YouTube etc and we also talking about having TV Coverage in place as well. We have been approached by several interested parties who want to offer both Live coverage and Highlights coverage.”

“With the Tyre Partner announcement and the Suspension Partner announcement made at ASI, the last part of the jigsaw is the Coverage and this is the highest priority for myself as part of the TCR UK Series.”

Since the announcement of the creation of the TCR UK Series, what has been your reaction as a part of the WSC/TCR Team to the opinions and reactions from fans/drivers/teams on Social Media?

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“Its been quite an interesting actually. I have worked as a journalist and a broadcaster for many years in my career which has covered series like the FIA World Rally Championship and the FIA World Touring Car Championship and I’ve seen a lot as you might imagine.”

“However its been interesting to see the various reactions about the TCR UK Series since it was announced. I read on a Forum this week that the series was dead for example.”

(At this point Mark points towards the Motorbase VW Golf GTI TCR car parked on the BRSCC stand…)

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“Thats interesting news to myself and the organisers who are working so hard to get the final pieces in place as well as fielding the huge amount of interest we’ve had from drivers teams etc. We stand beside the Motorbase VW Golf GTI TCR car whcih is one of seven TCR cars at the show, so to read things like that is quite alarming.”

“Most people have been quite welcoming of there being a TCR UK Series and this includes race fans in the UK who on the whole, have welcomed another race series to the UK. There are those who are staunch supporters of their favourite series and that their right to support that series.”

Mark then goes on to talk about how much interest was received about the TCR UK Series at the BRSCC Stand at the Autosport International Show with various enquiries about how to join and also where to watch the series.

TCR International Series Spa - Francorchamps 04 - 06 May 2017

“Generally speaking we have found that people have been very welcoming and very curious about the series. Certainly the conversation we have had at ASI with interested parties have been centred around how can they get involved and take part, where can they watch it, and its been a real eye opener.”

“As a series, we’ve decided that we won’t drip feed information about entries, however if the teams and drivers want to announce this themselves then that’s we’re happy to share and promote this news. The time for that is on Media Day on 6th March, having said that if Teams wish to contact us at TCR UK, we are happy to give an off the record account of whats happening but we won’t go public with any announcements until Media Day”

The recent change in the International Touring Car scene has seen the announcement that the TCR Europe Trophy has become a seven round series which is now TCR Europe Series and that the WTCC has changed to become the FIA World Touring Car Cup or WTCR. How do you feel that these changes will affect the TCR UK Series, if at all?

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“To be honest, all of the recent news could have an effect, however the teams that we have spoken with are very happy that they can use the cars in a business sense in more than one championship at the same time and that there are always other series that they can be raced in.”

“People are getting into TCR now because they realise that this type of car can be raced in more than one series, its not series specific machinery and it makes good business sense as you can make money with the car in almost all 12 months of the year.”

One of the benefits of having a TCR Regulation Touring car is that it can be raced anywhere in the world and there is a marketplace for them to end up racing anywhere with any team.

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The former Boutsen-Ginion Honda now run by SWR. Credit: Sean Walkinshaw Racing

“So a TCR car can end up having several owners whilst staying in competition. A TCR Car obviously has a used value and several teams for this season have purchased used TCR Cars from different series. So the cars are already on their second owners and they have the option of selling on the car to another team who could look at TCR Racing when they have completed their programme or time with that car.”

“Its also good business sense not only to have a Used TCR Car market but also the fact that these cars can be used in over 30 different TCR Championships around the world and also in Endurance racing as well. The Dubai 24 hours is taking place as we speak and there are up to 15 TCR Cars taking part there.”

To help promote the TCR UK Series, you’ve had the recent Test day at Brands Hatch and a lot of exposure of on Social Media. With the Entry/Registration period open for Teams and drivers to apply, do you feel that there is anything more that can be done to grow the Brand and awareness of the TCR Brands in the UK?

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“I’ll be honest, TCR has grown so staggeringly fast, I’m not sure what more we can do that hasn’t already spoken for itself. For some context, I wrote the first ever TC3 Press Release announcing the creation of the regulations.”

“When Marcello Lotti announced the TCR concept, that there was going to be a pyramid system of national series that led to Regional series and then led to The International Series, that we were going to race on the F1 support bill at three venues., there was a lot of scepticism and disbelief that he could pull it off.”

TCR International Series Malaysia, Sepang 27 - 29 March 2015

“Yet our first two races were at Sepang in Malaysia and Shanghai in China on the F1 Support Bill. What that proved is, if Marcello Lotti says its going to happen, he delivers on making that goal a reality.”

“To back this up, we are in the fourth year of the regulations and we have around 30 TCR Series around the world. We have 14 Car Brands represented around the world with more to come and we have several more TCR Series that are taking shape that have yet to be announced so we’re not stopping the expansion.”

“We’re getting the message out there and people who understand racing are giving us a chance and seeing TCR racing as a part of the bigger picture within the Domestic and International Touring Car scene. Watch the racing and give us a chance to show off what a great product we have.”

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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, Regional & Domestic TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

Please note that all images in this blog post are used courtesy of WSC / TCR International Series / TCR Middle East Series / TCR Europe Series / ADAC TCR Germany Series / TCR UK / FIA WTCC / Eurosport Events / BTCC.net

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2018 TCR Middle East Series Preview: Abu Dhabi…

TCR Middle East kicks off with two events in the Emirates

The 2018 TCR Middle East International Series kicks off with a two back-to-back race meetings in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit

This will be followed by the second at the Dubai Autodrome next week. The series will award two titles for Drivers and Teams that were won by Josh Files (Lap57 Motorsports Honda Civic) and Liqui Moly Team Engstler in 2017.

A quartet of drivers for Liqui Moly Team Engstler

Liqui Moly Team Engstler has entered four Volkswagen Golf GTI cars with the aim of retaining the Teams’ title and clinching the Drivers’ title as well.

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The 17-year old Luca Engstler returns to TCR Middle East after his 2017 campaign that saw him victorious in the opening round at Dubai, his very first race in a TCR car. Later on during the season, the young German successfully took part in the ADAC TCR Germany series, clinching the Rookie Trophy.

Florian Thoma, 22 years old from Switzerland, is also facing his second Touring Car season. In 2017 he was another front-runner in the ADAC TCR Germany series and scored one race win. Last week, Engstler and Thoma won the 24H Dubai, the opening round of the 24H TCE Series, sharing a Golf TCR with Jean-Karl Vernay and Benjamin Leuchter.

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The team’s third driver is Kai Jordan, the experienced Touring Car racer who was twice champion in the German Production Car series and has joined the ADAC TCR Germany since 2016.

Former TCR International Series competitor Lorenzo Veglia completes the team’s line up.

Pit Lane Competizioni to run six DSG cars

Italy’s Pit Lane Competizioni will run six cars fitted with a DSG gearbox: three Audi RS3 LMS and three Volkswagen Golf GTI’s.

Giacomo Altoè (Target Srl,Audi RS3 LMS TCR #10)

Brothers Giacomo and Giovanni Altoè will both race Audi cars. Giacomo (19) emerged last year as one of the fastest young drivers in TCR competition, claiming brilliant results in the International, Benelux, Italy and Middle East series. His older brother made his TCR debut in the Europe Trophy in which he won the DSG class. Alberto Vescovi, a regular competitor in the Italian SEAT Cup, will drive the third RS3 LMS.

Two of the Golf cars will be driven by a well-known duo: Mat’o Homola and Jordi Oriola.
Despite their young ages, both Homola (23) and Oriola (21) may be considered successful Touring Car veterans, with a great deal of experience in the FIA ETCC and the TCR International Series.

Motorsports / ADAC TCR, 5. Event 2016, Nürburgring, GER

The team is currently in negotiations with a couple of other Touring Car experts to drive the third Golf.

Martin Ryba in the Brutal Fish Volkswagen

The Brutal Fish Racing Team from the Slovak Republic has entered one Volkswagen Golf GTI for Martin Ryba.

Ryba still has limited racing experience, having only entered into competition in 2016. In his maiden seasons, the Slovak has achieved promising results in the FIA Central European Zone Challenge and the ESAT V4 Endurance Cup at the wheel of Renault Clio and SEAT León cars. Twice he finished as vice-champion in the ESET V4 Touring Car class. The TCR Middle East will mark Ryba’s debut at the wheel of his 2017 Golf GTI TCR.

A SEAT León for Costas Papantonis

Greek by birth, but long since transplanted to Dubai, Costas Papantonis has become a successful racing driver in the Emirates Touring Car series. He was crowned champion in the 2007 UAE Volkswagen Golf GTI Cup and the 2009 Dubai Suzuki Swift Cup.

At the wheel of a SEAT León Supercópa he grabbed six class titles in the United Arab Emirates Touring Car Championship between 2007 and 2016. In the TCR Middle East series he will drive a SEAT León TCR V3 SEQ.

The Weekend Timetable

The event format sticks to the usual TCR pattern, but it has been adapted to the Middle East tradition that considers Saturday as race day.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

Competitors will hit the track on Friday for two 30-minute Free Practice sessions, with the 30-minute Qualifying in the afternoon that will be split into Q1 (20 minutes for all the competitors) and Q2 (10 minutes for the 12 fastest drivers in Q1).

The two 60-kilometre races will be run on Saturday in the late morning and the early afternoon.

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The 2017 TCR Middle East Series in Abu Dhabi…

RACE ONE:

Josh Files, driving for the UAE-based Lap57 team, took his first victory in the TCR Middle East series after earlier setting the fastest time in both the Practice and Qualifying sessions.

The Honda Civic driver didn’t have an easy run to the chequered flag, however, as the Mulsanne Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Davit Kajaia led for eight of the race’s eleven laps. Files eventually took the lead on Lap 9.

Behind the race-long battle for the lead, Italian teenager Giacomo Altoè drove a solid race to give the Top Run racing team their first international podium result by finishing third in the Subaru WRX STi TCR.

Brandon Gdovic finished fourth for Liqui Moly Team Engstler, while Mohammed Al Owais was classified fifth in a Honda after stopping on track on the final lap. Similarly, Luca Engstler and Stefan Goede failed to finish the race but were classified sixth and seventh respectively.

RACE TWO:

After setting the fastest times in Practice and Qualifying and then winning Race 1, Josh Files rounded off a near-perfect event in Abu Dhabi with another victory in Race 2. A brilliant start by Files saw the Lap57 Honda Civic storm through the field to take the lead by Turn 6 and he then never looked back.

In a repeat of the 1-2 result from Race 1, Davit Kajaia finished second in the Mulsanne Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta while Luca Engstler salvaged third place after a disappointing opening race, in which he started from the back of the grid and was then involved in a collision with his teammate Brandon Gdovic.

Any thoughts of another podium finish by Giacomo Altoè were dashed when the Top Run Racing Subaru suffered a technical problem on the grid and the car had to be pushed back into the pit lane before the green flag lap.

Files’ teammate Mohammed Al Owais then stalled at the start after apparently failing to engage the Honda’s launch control system. Five cars then finished the race, with the Liqui Moly Team Engstler duo of Gdovic and Stefan Goede bringing their Volkswagen Golf GTi cars home in fourth and fifth places respectively.

TCR International Series Oschersleben, Germany 08 - 09 July 2017

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, Regional & Domestic TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

Please note that all images in this blog post are used courtesy of WSC / TCR International Series / TCR Middle East Series / TCR Europe Series / ADAC TCR Germany Series

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

Denis Dupont confirms 2018 WTCR Programme with Comtoyou Racing…

Belgian driver Denis Dupont has revealed that he has signed a deal with Belgian Audi team Comtoyou Racing to contest the 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR)

Dupont has confirmed that the RACB will be supporting his first full season of International Touring Car racing. Dupont competed in a SEAT Leon jointly backed by both the RACB and Comtoyou Racing where he competed in the final two round of the 2017 TCR International Series in China and Dubai.

Dupont explained his excitement ahead of the new season:

 

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

“First of all, I am very happy to continue the adventure in the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium! “ Denis explained. “Few drivers have made it to three seasons with the support of the national federation. I am very honoured.”

“I am on a cloud with the idea of ​​carrying out a full campaign in WTCR, in a world championship. In addition, I will continue to run with Comtoyou Racing, a team I already know well for having driven in both the TCR International Series and the VW Fun Cup.”

Dupont is joining Comtoyou Racing for the season, who outlined they have the potential to run up to three Audi RS3 LMR TCR cars in the 2018 WTCR. The Series organisers have confirmed that entries will go to both WTCC and TCR International Series as a priority as it looks to have a quality grid of 26 cars.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Whilst being the first driver to confirm that he will be contesting the WTCR, Dupont is keeping his aspirations in check.

“To say that I will aim for the title would be pretentious,” he adds. “There are a lot of circuits that I will discover. But no question of playing the fake modest either.”

“My goal is to fight at the front of the pack, score and finish on the podium as often as possible. Already, I thank the RACB, Comtoyou Racing and Diamond for allowing me to live this wonderful adventure.”

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

Comtoyou Racing ran 2015 and 2016 TCR International Series Champion Stefano Comini and Sportscar driver Frederic Vervisch in 2017 with Comini taking three wins during the year.

Dupont joined the team in his SEAT Leon at the Zhejiang Circuit in China for his first taste of International Touring Car action outside of the TCR Benelux Series. Dupont took two wins in the series and one pole position during 2017 and was straight up to speed in the TCR International Series

The first round of the 2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) takes place at the Marrakech circuit in Morocco on April 7 – 8.

TCR International Series Zhejiang, China 06 - 08 October 2017

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, Regional & Domestic TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series that starts in 2018.

Please note that all images in this blog post are used courtesy of WSC / TCR International Series.

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!