Work on the 2018 TCR Balance of Performance (BoP) is underway following last weeks’ official BoP tests which featured 11 brands and 13 cars across 2 days of testing.
The new BoP will be unveiled and introduced for all TCR series by mid March once the TCR Technical Department have confirmed the various parameters comprised of weight penalties, turbo restrictors and an imposed minimum ride height.
Each car had an appointed test driver who developed a comfortable base set-up before the official TCR BoP test drivers Daniel Lloyd and Gianni Morbidelli took over.
The representative drivers were : Mario Ferraris with the Alfa Romeo; Rahel Frey in the Audi; Josh Files and Esteban Guerrieri in the 2017 and 2018 Honda Civic; Gabriele Tarquini with Hyundai; Mike Halder in the Kia; Mikhail Grachev in the ‘new’ LADA Vesta; Franjo Kovac and Alex Morgan in the Renault; Jordi Gene in the SEAT; and Dieter Depping with the 2018 ‘facelift’ Volkswagen Golf.
Following scrutineering, the cars faced a programme split across the BAPRO dynamometres to test engine power outputs, a centre of gravity check and a session on track.
All ran smoothly without problem excluding the Vukovic Motorsport-prepared Renault Megane on day 1 which suffered a heavy impact with Morbidelli at the wheel following a brakes failure.
Lloyd, who contested half a season in a Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing SEAT Leon, enjoyed the chance to sample the full set of TCR cars and found it a tough yet rewarding experience working alongside the TCR Technical Department.
“It was nice to drive all the cars and see the differences between them. We were busy with the programme set up by the TCR Technical staff, especially because we had to deal with so many different manufacturers. I think we did a good job and went through everything that needed to be done,” said Lloyd.
“We had five or six laps on used tyres and then switched on new tyres, trying to be fast and consistent. Consistency was the priority. It was not a matter of setting the fastest lap, but of going through the same process with all cars: warming the tyres, respecting the track limits, set a consistent and steady pace.”
The cars were equipped with the new Yokohama tyres set to be introduced for most of the TCR series in 2018 including the World Touring Car Cup and TCR Europe, and Lloyd was positive of the comfort of the tyres.
“I was impressed. The big thing is their consistency, never mind the model of the car. They performed well and in the same way. They warmed up in the same time and set the fastest lap on the same lap,” he explained.
“The second flying lap was always the quickest. And then they remained consistent despite it was quite cold and we didn’t use warmers. There were no punctures, nor other issues.”
Morbidelli, who drove a Honda Civic in the first 2 years of TCR before switching to a Volkswagen Golf last year, also found it an intriguing affair to handle the increasing variety of TCR cars and hinted of interesting differences between his and his fellow competitors’ cars.
“It has been a very interesting experience, because it’s very rare to be given the opportunity to drive so many different cars. And it was even more interesting to me, as I have been racing in TCR during the last three years,” said Morbidelli.
“I was able to discover some of the cars driven by my competitors. I’m not providing the details, but for sure I had a few surprises.”
The touring car veteran covered more than a Grand Prix’s distance on the Wednesday alone with 320 kilometers across 6 separate cars, which the Italian unsurprisingly confirms as having been a tough challenge.
“Working on establishing an effective Balance of Performance is very difficult when you have so many different cars that have similar technical specifications but come from different designs.”
“However, the TCR technical staff is very experienced and then we must keep in mind that this was only the first step to fix a BoP for the beginning of the season. Then it will be refined race weekend after race weekend according to the track results.”