There has been growing speculation of a merge between the TCR International Series and the World Touring Car Championship, with WTCC-promoter Eurosport Events keen to find a solution to the impending death of the expensive TC1 rule-set, the cost-focused TCR concept a seemingly perfect answer to the problem.
The WTCC has suffered a difficult 2017 as Citroen and Lada left the series ahead of the sesaon. 18 cars at the final round in Macau stands as the largest grid size of TC1 cars to date and it is understood that there was even less interest ahead of a further season with the cars.
A new generation of the Honda Civic has rendered the current Honda TC1 car outdated with Honda understandably unwilling to build a new car to TC1 regulations, whilst Volvo are set to solely produce electric cars as of 2019 and thus were expected to leave the WTCC in the near future regardless.
Factory-backed teams are expected to be permitted under the merge although the original customer-based model of the TCR concept will be kept in place as the series is set to be rebranded as the “FIA WTCR” with a promotion to “World Cup” status.
An array of current and former WTCC drivers have featured in TCR cars in both the national championships and the International Series, amongst them front-running independent driver Tom Coronel and Macau race-winner Rob Huff.
Coronel, who assisted Benjamin Lessennes to the TCR Benelux crown at Assen in October, believes a move to TCR is the “only solution to make touring car racing survive”.
“Marcello Lotti did a mega job in the last three years and it was just a matter of seeing how they would match,” said the popular Dutch privateer to TouringCarTimes.com, “the rumour is that it will happen, I think it’s the best thing I’ve seen in the last ten years of motor racing. I’m really happy, also for myself, because I’m in a car that can’t fight against the factory teams.”
Whilst discussions between Eurosport Events and the FIA, who promote the TCR Series, are expected to be reaching a conclusion, no comment from representatives of either series are to be anticipated until an official decision has been made.