2018 TCR UK Series: Oulton Park

The 2018 TCR UK Touring Car Championship arrived at Oulton Park in Cheshire for its “One Day Special” event in Cheshire for its fifth weekend of racing.

This event ran on the Saturday only due to noise restrictions, however it saw a new entry in Tim Docker. Docker was entered as the third Maximum Motorsport driver, piloting the ex-Motorbase Volkswagen Golf which he has also driven in Britcar competition this year.

A last minute change of driver saw reigning BTCC Champion Ash Sutton step in for Finlay Crocker, who was unable to compete at the Cheshire circuit due to business commitments.

It can be safely said that Sutton left his mark on the Championship…

The 2018 TCR UK Series Entry List For Oulton Park:

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Super-sub Sutton secures Oulton Park pole on TCR UK debut

Verizon Connect Racing’s Ash Sutton secured pole position on his TCR UK début at Oulton Park with a supreme lap that was 0.567 seconds quicker than WestCoast Racing’s Dan Lloyd.

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Having topped Friday’s second test session and then Saturday morning’s Free Practice session, Sutton marked himself as the man to beat around the Oulton Park International circuit.

The Honda Civic Type R driver went to the top of the times on his first full flying lap in the 30-minute qualifying session, posting a lap of 1 minute 42.348 seconds. That time put Sutton at the top by a comfortable margin over the TCR UK series points leader Lloyd, who left it until late in the session to secure a front-row grid position for the first race of the day, setting his best time with just two minutes to go.

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Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor was third, just under eight tenths behind team-mate Sutton, having been set for a Pyro 1-2 until Lloyd’s Volkswagen separated the Hondas. Andreas Bäckman (WestCoast Racing) was fourth fastest in his Golf GTi, whilst DPE Motorsport’s Derek Palmer Jr secured a best qualifying result of the season in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta by going fifth.

Also taking a best qualifying result of the year was CUPRA driver Stewart Lines in sixth, ahead of the third WestCoast Racing Volkswagen of Jessica Bäckman in seventh. Lewis Kent was eighth quickest in his Hyundai, after his team had to work flat-out after the practice session to fix a problem with his front-left wheel hub, which saw him lose a wheel earlier in the day.

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The second DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo of Robert Gilmour and Maximum Motorsport’s second CUPRA of Carl Swift rounded off the top ten, whilst the Maximum Motorsport-run Volkswagen of Tim Docker completed the times in 11th.

Swift secured the pole position for race two, which is set by the reversed second fastest times of each driver, with Sutton alongside him.

Sutton sprints to victory in interrupted race one

Ash Sutton claimed his maiden win in the TCR UK series with a dominant display in a disrupted race one, with the Verizon Connect Racing driver winning by over 16 seconds from WestCoast Racing’s Dan Lloyd.

2018-2018 Oulton Park Race 1---2018 UK Oulton PK R1, 88 Ashley Sutton_2

The first start saw Sutton hold on to his lead into Turn 1 as behind him Ollie Taylor slipped past Lloyd to claim second. However, after just one lap of racing, the red flags were brought out when Robert Gilmour and Carl Swift tangled at Island bend, making heavy contact with the barriers and causing extensive damage to both the Alfa Romeo and the CUPRA.

After a half-hour delay whilst the barriers were repaired, the race restarted as a 15-minute sprint to the flag. Sutton immediately got down to business, opening up a clear gap, whilst behind him Derek Palmer Jr moved into second at the first corner.

Palmer would then hold that position for the remainder of the race, despite pressure from firstly Taylor and latterly Lloyd. However, the Alfa Romeo driver would be demoted to fourth upon completion of the race, due to receiving a 5-second penalty for exceeding track limits.

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That gave Lloyd second and allowed the Volkswagen driver to extend his championship lead, whilst his team-mate Andreas Bäckman completed the podium after Taylor was also given a 10-second penalty for being out of position on the starting grid.

Lewis Kent took fifth in his Hyundai, whilst Jessica Bäckman was sixth in her Volkswagen.

Stewart Lines followed up his best qualifying of the year with another points finish in seventh as the only CUPRA driver to finish, whilst Taylor was classified in eighth after his penalty was applied. TCR UK newcomer Tim Docker completed the classified finishers in ninth.

Sutton reigns supreme in action-packed Oulton Park Race Two

Ash Sutton continued his dominance of the TCR UK races at Oulton Park with a second successive lights-to-flag win in race two, as Ollie Taylor pipped Lewis Kent to second place on the last lap.

2018-2018 Oulton Park Race 2---2018 UK Oulton PK R1, 38 Lewis Kent_2

Sutton inherited pole position when reverse-grid pole-sitter Carl Swift was unable to take up his pole position after a shunt in race one. That gave Sutton a clear run down to the first corner on the opening lap, and the Honda Civic Type-R racer never looked back.

Second went to Taylor on the very last corner of the final lap, as several laps of sustained pressure on Kent finally paid dividends for the title challenger. Kent completed the podium in third, having run over the grass on the run up to the finish, to claim his second silverware of the season.

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Lloyd took the chequered flag in fourth, although the championship leader received three points on his licence and a five-place grid penalty for his next race following contact with Stewart Lines on lap seven, whilst the duo were scrapping for what was then the final podium place.

Jessica Bäckman finished in fifth, whilst Lines took the finish in sixth after losing significant time in the contact with Lloyd at Cascades. The CUPRA driver was buoyed after posting the fastest lap of the race.

Tim Docker and Andreas Bäckman completed the top ten, the latter after having to pit to deal with gearbox issues.

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Derek Palmer had been running in the final podium position, but the Alfa Romeo driver went off at Lodge Corner on lap six and retired from the race. Neither Carl Swift (Maximum Motorsport) nor Robert Gilmour (DPE Motorsport) took the start due to the damage their cars sustained in race one.

The 2018 TCR UK Touring Car Championship resumes for its penultimate weekend of action at Croft in Yorkshire on the 8th and 9th September.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

2018-2018 Oulton Park Friday---2018 UK Oulton PK, 27 Tim Docker_1

Oulton Park showed us one of several things: Ash Sutton left his mark on the Championship…

The reigning BTCC Champion filled in for Finlay Crocker in the Pyro Motorsports run Verizon Connect Racing Honda Civic TCR and promptly took the car to being Fastest in Practice, setting Pole Position in Qualifying and then romping home to take both of the race wins.

Championship leader Daniel Lloyd has some competition! Now just imagine how the series would have looked with just Croft and Donington Park left if Ash had also run a dual campaign over the season. That would have been an impressive fight!

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What was also good to see were the CUPRA’s and the Alfa Romeo’s showing good pace with improved Qualifying and Race paces respectively. Maximum Motorsport have been threatening this form since Brands Hatch and I suspect they will be challenging for more podiums at Croft and Donington Park.

With Croft and Donington Park looming on the horizon, this also means that the first ever season of TCR UK is slowly winding down. However there are so many more stories to be told before the end of the final race at Donington Park in October. The series has done well so far and there is a lot of talk about a bigger entry for 2019 after seeing the racing and cars in action this year.

For me, its all about seeing if Ollie Taylor can catch Dan Lloyd. Retirements can happen and its been seen before where a massive championship lead advantage has been zeroed or lost. The final two weekends of the year will have four more exciting weekends with the chance that there could always another twist in the tale.

2018-2018 Oulton Park Saturday---2018 UK Oulton PK, 76 Robert Gilmour_3

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of the The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from FIA WTCR, The TCR Europe Series, Domestic & Regional TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started this year.

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

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2018 TCR UK Series: Castle Combe

The 2018 TCR UK Touring Car Championship moved on to Castle Combe in Wiltshire for its fourth weekend of racing.

This event has been one of the most talked about rounds with the fans on Social Media as top line Touring Car Racing raced at the circuit for the first time.

The 2018 TCR UK Series Entry List For Castle Combe:

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Taylor snatches Castle Combe pole by three thousandths of a second

Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor secured pole position for the opening TCR UK race at Castle Combe, eclipsing championship leader Dan Lloyd by just 0.003s.

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Lloyd had set the pace earlier on in the half-hour session, only to be denied in the latter stages from scoring a fourth consecutive pole position by Taylor’s impressive effort.

Consolation for Lloyd is that he will start second in both the races, with his second-best time ensuring a front-row start in the reverse-grid contest at the 1.85-mile Wiltshire circuit. Lloyd led a WestCoast Racing trio in front of Andreas Bäckman who heads the second row with sibling Jessica for company with a time within a second of Taylor’s benchmark.

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Lewis Kent jumped from ninth to fifth in the second half of the session, with a time of 1:08.238, meaning the Brands Hatch podium finisher will start from the third row of the grid. Finlay Crocker was sixth, 1.265 seconds off pole position, ahead of the Maximum Motorsport CUPRAs of Carl Swift and Stewart Lines in seventh and eighth respectively.

Derek Palmer (DPE Motorsport) was ninth in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta, with Darelle Wilson rounding out the top ten with a time he set before his session-ending incident.

Due to his accident Wilson was set to start race two from reverse-grid pole, but his participation is looking uncertain after he sustained heavy damage after an off into the infield at Bobbies. The Alfa Romeo of Robert Gilmour was forced to miss the session after an earlier ECU problem.

Ollie Taylor takes first TCR UK win at Castle Combe

Ollie Taylor secured his first TCR UK win after surviving contact with Dan Lloyd’s Volkswagen Golf on the final lap.

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Standings leader Lloyd made a poor start and dropped back on the opening lap, but survived drama at Quarry Corner as Jessica Bäckman and a fast-starting Finlay Crocker made contact. Crocker’s Verizon Connect Racing’s Honda went across the grass and hit Stewart Lines, forcing the latter to retire with radiator damage.

The safety car was then deployed, and Lloyd began to progress once the race got back underway, passing Lewis Kent on the start/finish straight after forcing him into an error through Camp Corner. He then made his way past team-mate Andreas Bäckman – who eventually completed the podium – before setting his sights on polesitter Taylor.

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He steadily reduced the gap before making a last-gasp move into Quarry Corner, hitting the side of Taylor’s Honda Civic Type R FK7 before completing the overtake at The Esses. Taylor attempted to fight back but was forced to settle for second, ahead of Andreas Bäckman and Kent, who tried to challenge the Swedish racer in the middle phase of the race.

The top five was rounded out by Carl Swift’s CUPRA, who had breathing space at the line after a tense battle with Derek Palmer’s Alfa Romeo, which slowed on circuit after challenging Swift and pitted with a few laps remaining. That DNF continued DPE Motorsport’s woes as Palmer’s teammate Robert Gilmour did not contest the opening race due to an ongoing ECU problem.

Afterwards the Stewards overturned the race win and awarded this to Taylor, with Lloyd’s move being deemed as Un-Sportsman-like.

Dan Lloyd secures his seventh win of 2018 campaign

Dan Lloyd won a dramatic reverse-grid race at Castle Combe to take his seventh TCR UK victory this season, ahead of Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor.

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Lloyd started the race from pole and faced early pressure from Carl Swift, who made a great start to challenge Lloyd around the outside at Quarry Corner on the opening lap, before settling for second for the remainder of the lap.

Race one winner Taylor made progress on the opening lap, and eventually hunted down Lewis Kent and then Carl Swift to take the chequered flag in second position, 1.7 seconds adrift of Lloyd. By the time Taylor made it to second, Lloyd enjoyed a seven second advantage, which was then nullified by a late safety car period following contact between Jessica Bäckman and Stewart Lines at Camp Corner.

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The pair were battling for fifth and sixth position when they tangled at the last turn and made heavy contact with the barrier, necessitating the safety car. Lines was later disqualified from the race and received four penalty points for the incident.

When the field returned to green flag racing, Lloyd got the jump on Taylor while Swift held station in third position. The CUPRA racer finished the race third but initially received a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits, dropping him down to fifth. After the race, Swift successfully appealed the decision and the penalty was withdrawn, which reinstated his first TCR UK podium result.

Derek Palmer secured his best result so far this season with fourth in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta, while his teammate Robert Gilmour did not start either race this weekend due to an ongoing ECU problem.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

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So, lets recap. There were twelve entries for the weekend and this dropped to eleven when Howard Fuller confirmed that due to budget reasons he wasn’t able to take part. To further add to this Darelle Wilson suffered terminal damage to his Vauxhall Astra after a big off in Qualifying and Robert Gilmour had an ECU issue that kept him out of the running.

Despite this, nine cars took part in both races and both races were really exciting with a lot of chasing and strategy required in trying to make passes on the fast Wiltshire circuit. With this event being one the fans were really talking about, the response back was really positive about the racing and the access to the drivers and teams.

However what the circuit also posed was a challenge with potentially two places to pass with a lot of high speed panning required. That’s not a bad thing as with most UK circuits, its bloody difficult to pass anyway!

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Again the subject of numbers came up, however you can’t account for the possibility of Budget issues or Mechanical/Damage Issues during a weekend. These things happen over any race weekend in any series, however it seems to be highlighted more with this series than anyone else. To add to this, other expected entries didn’t appear due to Budgets or trying to secure a car to race with. Its not that easy to do!

Oulton Park is next on Saturday 4th August and the action all takes place on the Saturday with Qualifying live online and both races also streamed live as normal. Oulton is always a challenge and its one I’m looking forward to.

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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 The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from FIA WTCR, The TCR Europe Series, Domestic & Regional TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started this year.

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

BTC Norlin Racing: A Modern Day BTCC Fairy tale brought to life…

It not every day that a team can come into the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and have such a popular following in a very short space of time.

However, Bert Taylor’s BTC Norlin Racing squad have managed to do this and score some impressive results since the teams return last year. Here is how I have seen the modern version of a fairy tale re-entry into the BTCC for the team…

The History Lesson…

BTC Racing was no stranger to the series, having competed during two stints (2006-2008 & 2014), having seen limited success using the different cars of the Lexus IS and the SEAT Toledo and then running the NGTC Hatchback version of the Chevrolet Cruze, the team took some time out from the championship.

Stockton
Credit: BTCC.net

During the off season in 2016, Taylor made the announcement that his squad had secured two TBL’s and would be re-entering the BTCC with the NGTC Chevrolet Cruze’s run by Power Maxed racing previously.

Later on during the build up to the 2017 season, Chris Smiley and Dave Newsham were confirmed as the drivers for the teams comeback.

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Credit: BTCC.net

With Smiley having suffered a poor season in 2016 racing for the Team HARD outfit, scoring a best position of 16th at Thruxton in what was uncompetitive car, the Northern Irish driver left after Croft that year and was soon snapped up by Taylor.

Retaining Newsham in the team was also a master stroke with the BTCC race winner having a lot of experience in the Chevrolet Cruze during his time at Power Maxed Racing. The scene was set for what looked to be a better first season returning back in the BTCC.

Bert Taylor sums up the emotions he felt about returning to the series:

“It was a dream come true, our lottery ticket had landed and it was a fantastic feeling to be back in the BTCC again!”

The 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship: Newsham to the Front

BTCNorlin2017MediaDay
Credit: BTCC.net

The season started quietly for the team as they bedded in the “Stealth Bomber” looking Chevy’s and began to learn about the cars, however Newsham gave an early showing of the cars promise in round six at Donington Park.

During extremely wet conditions, Newsham guided the Cruze into the lead and stayed there for several laps before giving best to cars on a better setup around him.

However, the Scotsman would come home in fourth place and take the team’s first top five finish of the year. Knockhill added more silverware as Newsham was the winning Independent driver in the days second race where he finished in seventh place overall.

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Credit: BTCC.net

Rockingham was a good weekend for Chris Smiley, who having gotten to grips with the car during the season and taking a lot of guidance from Newsham, secured his first two top ten finishes of the season with tenth place in race two and then ninth place in race three.

Silverstone where the team made its mark and really showed the promise that was waiting in the wings. With the National circuit offering its normal fast spectacle of racing and difficult overtaking chances, Newsham guided the Chevy to take the team’s first overall podium of the year in third place in race three.

Smiley-18 (1)
Credit: BTCC.net

With the team having signed off their first year back with silverware, the off season for the buildup to 2018 would be crucial to maintaining their momentum.

With a lot of Silverware from the teams first season back, Bert Taylor explained how he felt about the teams achievements during the 2017 season:

“The season was a game of two half’s. The first half was Tried hard, second half was just what we needed.”

“Donington in the wet was where Dave almost put us on the podium and in the 2nd half of the season both drivers got us into the top ten on a regular basis and Dave got 3rd overall at Silverstone!”

The 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship: The Young Guns Fly!

Chris Smiley, BTC Norlin Honda Civic
Credit: BTCC.net

Over the offseason, BTC Norlin confirmed that they had purchased the two ex-Team Dynamics/Works Honda Civics for the new season and that they had kept Smiley on board for a second consecutive year.

Adding to the line-up was experienced BTCC and TCR International Series driver James Nash, making his return to the BTCC after seven years away. With the competitiveness of the Honda’s already well known and two talented drivers signed up, 2018 was looking good already.

Once again Brands Hatch was a learning curve for the team, however Donington Park once again delivered. Josh Cook took pole position in differing conditions, but Smiley was there on the front row only three hundredths of a second behind. The scene was set. Could the team take its second podium in the BTCC or could Chris take that elusive win?

The answer was a second podium, however the achievement was immense. Chris delivered a great result for the team and gave notice that once again the “Stealth Bomber” Honda’s were ready to challenge at the front with the rest of the big-name teams and drivers. The elation for both Smiley, the Team and Taylor was evident on TV.

Chris Smiley, BTC Norlin Honda Civic
Credit: BTCC.net

With a podium taken with a brand new car for the team, Taylor explained the emotions of seeing Smiley take his first podium in the series:

“Its a feeling I’ll never forget for both of us I’ve always known Chris had the capability!”

“He delivered that day from 7th place in the second race and it was fantastic feeling after a front row start on the hard tyres in race one.”

Thruxton was a good weekend for the team again as the Hampshire circuit saw Smiley take three top ten finishes, however it would be all change for Oulton Park. With Nash deciding to leave the series, Taylor scored a popular signing in getting the current TCR UK Championship leader Dan Lloyd in the second seat.

With Lloyd carrying late entry ballast in Oulton Park, it was always going to be a difficult debut for the Huddersfield driver. 22nd on the grid for race one, Lloyd made his way up to 18th at the end of race two. With both driver 17th and 18th for race three, a possible top ten was on the cards, however a start-line accident wrecked both cars there and then.

Croft Race Three: That’s the way to do it!

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Credit: BTCC.net

With so much potential being shown by the team since they returned to the series last year, there was a point when the question was asked:

“They have the cars, they have the talented drivers… Where’s the first win coming???”

One common theme during the first half of the 2018 season was that the BTC Norlin Honda’s were getting noticed by the ITV Pundits for their speed and reliability in races and once Lloyd joined the team, the talk moved to when that first win would happen and either Lloyd or Smiley would take it.

Smiley (1)
Credit: BTCC.net

With Dan Lloyd picked for pole position for race three at Croft, the dream suddenly seemed to become a reality. Lloyd made a great start off the line and was never headed after the first lap.

Whilst many fans have said about how much of a dominating force Lloyd had been in TCR UK (Where he has the best car and the best team at his disposal), it was great to see the Yorkshire driver lead from the front and control the race in a different series.

Lloyd duly took the win by just under five seconds and secured his first win in the BTCC as well as giving the team their first BTCC win. A proper double whammy and a great way to head into the Sumer Break.

Start2
Credit: BTCC.net

With that elusive first race win finally taken, Taylor explains his emotions of seeing Lloyd take his first BTCC win:

“Dan just fitted into the team, it really felt like he’d been with us for ages and what a result he delivered after siting in the car for 5 races! WOW!”

“The win in race three at Croft was absolutely incredible for the whole team after both cars suffered from so much damage from the start-line accident that took place in the final race of the day at Oulton Park.” 

The remaining second half of the season got underway at Snetterton in the last weekend of July with another fine opportunity of Pole Positions and race wins presented as the series celebrates its 60th Anniversary with the “Double Diamond” Race:

A ballast free, no holds barred, double points scoring race?

It sounds like another chance to add a new chapter to that Fairy tale…

(To bring this up to date, both drivers enjoyed a positive meeting with Smiley taking fifth place in race two as his highest finish of the weekend whilst Lloyd took two ninth place finishes in the first and third races repsectively.)

Chris Smiley (GBR) BTC Norlin Honda Civic

Despite this being a BTCC Post, I will be keeping things up to date 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 Jakob Ebrey Photography / BTCC.net

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2018 TCR UK Series: Brands Hatch

The 2018 TCR UK Touring Car Championship moved on to Brands Hatch for its third weekend of racing and saw an increased entry list as well as some interested observers who just failed to make the entry in time…

The biggest news was that between Knockhill and Brands Hatch Laser Tools Racing decided to leaves the series, which left a question on the participation of the Alfa Romeo’s. This was soon answered with DPE Motorsport (who originally purchased the Alfa’s and announced their participation) confirming the cars would be a season long entry with Robert Gilmour brought in to race the second car.

There was also a provisional entry list that alluded to a potential 17 car entry, however due to a lack of funds/time/resources, these entries did not make it to the grid. One of the provisional entries was for BTCC runner up Sam Tordoff…

The 2018 TCR UK Series Entry List For Brands Hatch:

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Daniel Lloyd secures pole position for the opening TCR UK Series race at Brands Hatch.

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A quickest time of 48.483 seconds around the 1.2 mile Indy Circuit configuration on his final run meant the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR racer and championship leader headed up the front row alongside Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor, who enjoyed a strong start to life with the Honda Civic Type R FK7 in second, three tenths adrift.

Strong performances from Swedish siblings Andreas and Jessica Bäckman put the sister WestCoast Racing machines into third and fifth respectively, with Lewis Kent’s Hyundai i30 N TCR separating the pair as he chases a season-best result from fourth.

BMR Autoglym Academy’s Josh Price was another to improve in the second half of the session and will start the FK2 model from sixth, whilst the second Pyro-run FK7 of Finlay Crocker and championship newcomer Robert Gilmour (DPE Motorsport) share the fourth row behind in close company.

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Row five was an all-CUPRA and Maximum Motorsport affair, with Stewart Lines heading Carl Swift, both of whom have now made the switch to a sequential gearbox from a DSG unit, and the latter will start the second race from a reverse-grid pole position.

Sean Walkinshaw Racing’s Howard Fuller marked his racing return to Brands Hatch with eleventh, half a second clear of Alex Morgan as the Renault Mégane TCR makes its competitive debut in the UK.

Darelle Wilson’s Vauxhall Astra lines up in thirteenth, a further tenth of a second behind, with Derek Palmer set to round out the field after a mechanical issue prevented his Alfa Romeo Giulietta from setting a fast lap.

Lloyd fights back to win fifth consecutive TCR UK race

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WestCoast Racing’s Daniel Lloyd claimed victory in the opening TCR UK championship race at Brands Hatch after recovering to edge out a fast-starting Ollie Taylor.

The Pyro Motorsport racer made the better start from the front row and edged ahead in the Honda Civic Type R FK7 on the outside line heading into Paddock Hill Bend. Drama ensued behind the pair as Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport) moved up to third and then made light contact with Lloyd’s Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at Druids, before sliding a little wide at Graham Hill Bend and allowing the top two to escape up the road.

Though Taylor held firm in his defence of the lead, Lloyd would not be denied and pounced on an opening at Clearways to reclaim top spot and then extended his advantage to 1.8 seconds before the end. The result increases his advantage in the championship to 80 points, whilst second for Taylor means he moves up to the same position in the standings.

Josh Price (BMR Autoglym Academy) looked to have held onto fourth after an absorbing race-long contest with Jessica Bäckman (WestCoast Racing), but disaster struck on the run to the chequered flag and the Honda Civic FK2 slowed, allowing the TCR Scandinavia racer to seize a strong result on her debut at the 1.2 mile Indy circuit.

Another drama struck the CUPRA TCR of Stewart Lines (Maximum Motorsport) on the formation lap as an issue with the air jacks forced him to a halt, but swift work by his mechanics allowed him to make the start, and he recovered in composed fashion to post a season-best result of fifth. Jessica’s sibling Andreas survived a sideways moment after contact at Surtees to put all three WestCoast Racing machines in the top six, ahead of the Pyro Motorsport machine of Finlay Crocker.

Carl Swift claimed eighth and looked to capitalise on pole position in the reverse-grid race as he chases a maiden victory in the series, with Price eventually crossing the line ninth and Howard Fuller (Sean Walkinshaw Racing) rounding out the top ten after edging out a thrilling scrap with Darelle Wilson’s Vauxhall Astra.

Alex Morgan was forced to retire the Renault Megane TCR on its competitive debut on domestic shores, but gathered valuable data on the car and will look for a better turn of luck in the second contest later today.

Daniel Lloyd and Jessica Bäckman give WestCoast a 1-2 finish

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WestCoast Racing secured a 1-2 finish in the final TCR UK Touring Car Championship contest at Brands Hatch, with championship leader Daniel Lloyd taking a sixth victory in a row to extend his lead in the standings.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR started on the fifth row of the grid but made a strong start and cut through the field in sublime fashion, eventually besting a stoic defence from the CUPRA of Carl Swift to seize the advantage into Graham Hill Bend. The result extends Lloyd’s advantage at the top of the table to 99 points.

Team-mate Jessica Bäckman followed Lloyd through to complete a strong result for the Swedish outfit – her first podium in the championship – with Howard Fuller (Sean Walkinshaw Racing) emerging on top of a duel for the final spot on the rostrum with the sister Maximum Motorsport machine of Stewart Lines.

Swift drove valiantly but was unfortunate to pull off at Surtees in the closing stages with a suspected front-right suspension problem, whilst contact between Lines and Andreas Bäckman on the exit of Druids similarly prevented the latter from challenging for silverware.

Ollie Taylor saw out a strong weekend with fifth in the Pyro Motorsport-run Honda Civic Type R FK7, though team-mate Finlay Crocker’s obvious pace went unrewarded and a spin at McLarens forced the Scottish racer into the pits and out of contention.

Darelle Wilson put in a season-best showing in the Vauxhall Astra, claiming sixth ahead of Lewis Kent’s Hyundai i30 N TCR, which started well but fell back and eventually took seventh via a trip to the pit lane for a tyre change.

In a race of high attrition Swift came next ahead of Backman, with Crocker, Josh Price’s Honda Civic FK2 after a suspected recurring fuel surge and the Renault Megane TCR of Alex Morgan rounding out the field after continued mechanical struggles.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

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Brands Hatch offered some great racing from the TCR UK Series and it also confirmed that the interest from Knockhill wasn’t just a one off. Whilst Laser Tools Racing decided to return to the BTCC, the cars remained in the series with DPE Motorsport, putting to bed the many rumours that the series was in trouble without the cars or team being involved.

Dont. Be. So. Bloody. Ridiculous!!!

With the arrival of Alex Morgan and the Renault Megane being developed by Wolf Power Racing for their ADAC TCR Germany campaign (the car is in its first year of development) and also the signal of intent from both Sam Tordoff and BMR Team Principal Warren Scott about wanting to take part, this showed that there are others out there watching with interest.

14 cars is a great entry list and even with the two Alfa Romeo’s not competing due to engine issues, 12 cars on track is still a good sign. I maintain that unless the series reaches the lows of TCR Italy in its first year (2 full season entries, 7 part time entries that did not race at every TCR Italy event…) then there is still a lot of hope for TCR UK.

Lets give it a bloody chance eh?

Finally I felt for Carl Swift. The Maximum Motorsport driver led the most laps of the year so far before Lloyd found a way past. It was great to see Swift holding and defending his line and retirement for the CUPRA driver was a poor reward for a podium that was waiting for him. Looking forward to more positive performances!

2018-2018 Brands Hatch Race 1---2018 UK Brands Hatch R1, 32 Oliver Taylor_2

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of the The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from FIA WTCR, The TCR Europe Series, Domestic & Regional TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started this year.

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

Until next time, all the best!

Phil!!!

2018 TCR UK Series: Knockhill

The 2018 TCR UK Touring Car Championship moved on to Knockhill in April for is second weekend of racing and enjoyed a larger entry on the grid.

Sean Walkinshaw stepped in to make his FWD debut in the Honda Civic whilst Howard Fuller was unable to drive due to other commitments whilst Josh Price made his first appearance in a 2017 Honda civic run by the BMR Autoglym Academy outfit.

Dan Lloyd secures pole position in competitive Knockhill qualifying

Round 2 TCR UK Series
Credit: Craig McAllister / CMC Images

Dan Lloyd made it two pole positions out of two events by securing the top time in qualifying for the TCR UK series at Knockhill, as local racer Aiden Moffat qualified on the front row of the grid in second.

Championship leader Lloyd made his intent clear early on in a sunny Qualifying session when he went to the top of the times after eight minutes.

But with Scottish racer Moffat getting ever-quicker, Lloyd had to improve his lap time throughout the session, eventually setting a time of 50.823 seconds to claim pole position for the first race.

Laser Tools Racing’s Moffat ended up two and a half tenths back having posted his best lap time of the weekend on the anti-clockwise configuration of the Knockhill circuit.

Round 2 TCR UK Series
Credit: Craig McAllister / CMC Images

The series once again featured a diversity of brands in the top three positions, as Lloyd’s Volkswagen and Moffat’s Alfa Romeo were followed by the Honda Civic of Ollie Taylor (Pyro Motorsport) in third, who improved his time twice inside the final ten minutes to secure a strong starting position.

Swedish racer Andreas Bäckman was fourth fastest, giving the WestCoast Racing driver a second row starting position for Race One.

TCR newcomer Josh Price (BMR Autoglym Academy) overcame an engine failure in practice to take to the circuit with seconds to spare at the beginning of the half-hour session, qualifying his Honda Civic in fifth, ahead of the 2018-specification Honda of Scottish racer Finlay Crocker (Verizon Connect Racing) in sixth.

Lewis Kent put his Hyundai i30 N in seventh for the first race, with the third WestCoast Racing Volkswagen of Jessica Bäckman in eighth.

Darelle Wilson (DW Racing) was ninth in his Vauxhall Astra, ahead of TCR UK debutante Sean Walkinshaw in tenth and Derek Palmer Jr (Laser Tools Racing) completing the field in 11th. Walkinshaw had earlier missed practice whilst he waited for a spare suspension component to be delivered to the circuit after a failure on Friday.

The grid for the second race, which is based on a reversal of the top ten drivers’ second fastest laps, saw Walkinshaw start from pole position with Wilson alongside.

Daniel Lloyd victorious in exciting opening race at Knockhill

Round 2 TCR UK Series

WestCoast Racing’s Daniel Lloyd put in a flawless drive to take victory in the opening TCR UK Series race at Knockhill, as Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor and the BMR Autoglym Acamdemy’s Josh Price completed the podium after a thrilling scrap.

Lloyd started the race from pole position and never looked back as he built up a comfortable margin early in the race, whilst the pack behind him scrapped for position in a thrilling race.

Taylor had got the jump on Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat at the start, before he slid wide in his Honda Civic on lap six and dropped to fourth, releasing Moffat to try to reduce Lloyd’s then six-second gap.

However, Moffat’s charge came to an abrupt end at the mid-point of the race when he suffered from a driveshaft failure, elevating WestCoast Racing’s Andreas Bäckman into second.

A mid-race safety car period was required in order to retrieve the beached Hyundai i30 N of Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport) who had gone off at McIntyres whilst running in 11th, and when the race resumed on lap 22 Andreas Bäckman made an unforced error into the first turn, locking his brakes and handing second to Taylor.

Round 2 TCR UK Series

Bäckman sought to re-pass the Honda two laps later but contact between the pair gave Price the opportunity to move into second. The BMR driver would only hold the position for two laps though, and Taylor re-passed with just five laps to run and the podium positions would remain unchanged thereafter.

Fourth went to Bäckman, ahead of Sean Walkinshaw in fifth, who is making his TCR UK race début for his team of the same name this weekend.

Derek Palmer finished the race as Laser Tools Racing’s sole remaining Alfa Romeo in sixth after a relatively uneventful drive for the Scot, ahead of Jessica Bäckman (WestCoast Racing) in seventh.

Darelle Wilson (DW Racing) was eighth, having received a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits in the race, although his race ended with an accident with Finlay Crocker (Verizon Connect Racing) at McIntyres bend on the final lap, despite the latter running a lap down. Crocker had earlier suffered from several spins during the race and was a lap down as a result.

Incident-packed Race 2 at Knockhill delivers thrills aplenty

2018-2018 Knockhill Race 1---2018 UK Knockhill R1, 23 Daniel Lloyd_3

Daniel Lloyd continued his dream start to the TCR UK Series with victory in the reversed-grid second race at Knockhill, coming through from ninth on the grid to take his fourth win of the year ahead of Josh Price and Sean Walkinshaw.

Walkinshaw started the race on pole position and led heading into Turn 1, but the Hyundai of Lewis Kent got an even stronger start from the second row of the grid and immediately made a move into Taylor’s Hairpin, with slight contact allowing Kent into the lead. Further back Team BMR’s Josh Price, who had started from sixth, got past Walkinshaw for second on lap four, and immediately set about slashing Kent’s early lead. On lap seven Kent made a mistake at Turn 1, gifting Price the lead, although the Honda driver would only be at the front of the field for four laps.

Championship leader Lloyd had been making steady progress in the early phase of the race, moving up to sixth by the end of the first lap and into second by lap eight. On lap 11 Lloyd got a superior exit from Turn 1 and passed Price for the lead heading towards Turns 2 and 3 with a clean pass.

Lloyd had opened up a lead of over two seconds by lap 23 when the safety car was required to clear up the damaged Honda of Ollie Taylor. The Pyro Motorsport driver had spent much of the first half of the race running seventh, before stepping up a gear heading into the final third of the race. Whilst trying to pass WestCoast Racing’s Jessica Bäckman for fourth at Turn 1 the two cars made contact and title contender Taylor was out of the race with broken steering.

Round 2 TCR UK Series
Credit: Craig McAllister / CMC Images

With the clock continuing to count down there was only time for one more racing lap when the action resumed, and Lloyd went early to build enough of a lead to take his fourth win of 2018. Price ultimately settled for second, ahead of Walkinshaw in third, giving the latter’s fledgling team a maiden podium in TCR. DW Racing’s Darelle Wilson was fourth, with the Vauxhall Astra racer almost securing a podium finish after pressuring Walkinshaw late in the race.

The Bäckman siblings finished in fifth and sixth, with Andreas ahead of sister Jessica respectively. Both WestCoast Racing cars were involved in fierce battles during the race, with their Volkswagen Golf GTi cars bearing the scars of multiple contacts at the end as the Knockhill circuit once again delivered close battles. Derek Palmer once again had to fly the flag for the Laser Tools Racing team and finished in seventh, as team-mate Aiden Moffat failed to make the start with a different failure to the driveshaft issue that took him out of the running in race one.

Lewis Kent completed the finishers in eighth, two laps down after tyre issues struck during the race.

Another two victories mean Lloyd leaves Scotland with a 66-point lead over Andreas Bäckman in second, with Taylor a further seven points behind in third.

The Guru’s Thoughts…

2018-2018 Knockhill Saturday---2018 UK Knockhill, 28 Josh Price_.jpg

The second weekend of the 2018 TCR UK Touring Car Championship showed that the exciting spectacle of TCR Racing takes place in every TCR Series around the world. Add some greasy conditions on a drying track and your guaranteed of exciting races.

I’m not going to talk about the Qualifying/Race Day issue, as far as I’m concerned it was sorted out on the day. Its not the best way to have done things with the decisions taking place live on air, but time constraints led to this happening in the way it did.

It was great to see Josh Price enter with BMR Autoglym Academy Honda Civic and it showed that others are interested in join the series in its first year. In a season where so far a lot of people have commented on the grid size (due to oversized expectation built by everyone outside of the series), a new car and team entering the fray shows that what I have said all along is correct:

People are waiting in the wings to see how it progresses before committing to an entry. Thats fair enough, its a new series and to make it worth their while the teams’/drivers want to see some action and racing to justify budgets.

Finally, racing in the reverse direction seemed to offer more overtaking spots than the normal way around. I liked it! I hope it returns for 2019…

2018-2018 Knockhill Race 2---2018 UK Knockhill R2, 55 Sean Walkinshaw

As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of the The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from FIA WTCR, The TCR Europe Series, Domestic & Regional TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started this year.

All images are used courtesy of BRSCC / TCR UK Series & CMC images where credited.

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.

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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.”

Pierre_Runic_Rome_Photographer
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.”

Pierre_Audi_Tweet-1
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!!!

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

2018 TCR Honda
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

TCR International Series Spa - Francorchamps 04 - 06 May 2017
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.”

TCR International Series Spa - Francorchamps 04 - 06 May 2017
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!!!