2018 TCR UK Series: Castle Combe – Preview


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Image Credit: TCR UK-PSP Images

The TCR UK Series heads to the Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire this weekend, as the championship reaches the half-way stage of the 2018 campaign. A fast-paced and exciting circuit, Castle Combe should be more than capable of providing TCR UK fans with plenty of great racing to watch.

It also provides an element of variety too. For many touring car fans, Castle Combe is a circuit which they certainly won’t have come across in modern day BTCC. In addition, due to the increasing interest in the championship, large crowds of spectators are expected at the track which should make for a great atmosphere on race day.

WestCoast Racing’s Winning Ways

Swedish outfit, WestCoast Racing, have been the team to beat so far in this campaign. Admittedly, the team has competed with TCR machinery since it was first conceived in 2015, so it’s perhaps not such a surprise that they’ve generally been the quickest on track. Behind the wheel of one of the Volkswagen Golf GTi TCRs, Daniel Lloyd has been dominant at the front of the pack. The current BTCC star and ex-TCR International racer has won all six races this year, and therefore has a stranglehold on the championship points standings.

Having recently completed a new sponsorship deal, Lloyd can now race without concern about his finances for the rest of the season too. Whether this will take the pressure off and evoke even stronger performances, or whether it’ll result in a slight slump, remains to be seen. However, everyone involved with TCR UK Series must surely be thrilled by the news that a driver of Lloyd’s quality shall remain involved with the championship for at least the rest of the year.

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Dan Lloyd has been in brilliant form in 2018. Image Credit: TCR UK-PSP Images

That said, Lloyd isn’t the only WestCoast driver to have shown good form. The other two cars, piloted by Swedish siblings Andreas & Jessica Backman, have also shared some of the team’s success. Aside from the likes of Ollie Taylor, Andreas Backman is one of the nearest challengers to Lloyd for the championship title, while Jessica has made steady progress since the start of the season. However, their TCR UK rivals shouldn’t lose hope just yet. As a result of their good performances, 60kg of compensation weight has been added to the WestCoast Racing cars, while all other competitors have been permitted to run at their standard weight.

Strong performances from Ollie Taylor and Carl Swift ensured that WestCoast Racing didn’t have things all their own way last time out at Brands Hatch, so with this new compensation weight adjustment, the other drivers will have their best chance yet of knocking Lloyd off of the top step of the podium.

Maximum Attack

Last time out at Brands Hatch, the Maximum Motorsport team were rejuvenated by the performance boost gained from swapping their DSG gearboxes for sequential ones. Carl Swift looked set to claim his first podium result in TCR UK until mechanical woes forced him to retire in the latter stages of Race Two, while Stewart Lines recorded the team’s best result of the season so far.

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Maximum Motorsport are on a positive trajectory at the moment. Image Credit: TCR UK-PSP Images

Plus, although they have recently joked on TCR social media forums about their cars inevitably being heavier with them onboard, the charismatic duo should gain some sort of pace advantage compared to the ballast-laden cars of Lloyd & the Backman siblings. Their promising Brands Hatch display was a sample of what’s yet to come, so Carl Swift and Stewart Lines could be ones to watch this time out at Castle Combe.

Overseas Antidotes

It’s no secret that the Brands Hatch event was one to forget for DPE Motorsport and DW Racing. The former of the two teams struggled with mechanical failures, forcing them to withdraw from Sunday’s action. This was on the back of Aiden Moffat and his Laser Tools Racing supporters leaving the team after Knockhill, and so a difficult time had been compounded even further.

However, the Scottish outfit took their pair of Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR engines back to Italy during the break since the races at Brands Hatch, and it looks as though a mechanical cure may well have been found. Team Boss, Derek Palmer Snr, is confident that the Romeo Ferraris engineers were able to diagnose and amend the issues with both engines. As such, Derek Palmer Jr and Robert Gilmour should hopefully now be able to get stuck in amongst the action.

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Darelle Wilson will hope that his Astra’s power woes have been overcome in time for Castle Combe. Image Credit: TCR UK-PSP Images

DW Racing, the sole representative of Vauxhall in the TCR UK Series, also suffered from engine issues at Brands Hatch. Although Darelle Wilson was able to take part in both races, a significant lack of power in the Astra TCR meant that he was unable to properly compete. However, a trip to Germany in order to collaborate with Kissling Motorsport appears to have resolved not only that power issue, but also various other minor issues with the car. The team expects Castle Combe to suit the driving dynamics of the Vauxhall Astra TCR, so Wilson’s bright green machine could well be another car to keep your eye on this weekend.

Coverage

TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk will bring you written coverage of qualifying, which is scheduled for 15:20 on Saturday. As ever, both races will be broadcast live on the TCR UK YouTube Channel, with Bryn Lucas as presenter and Andy McEwan in the commentary box. You can catch Race One at 12:55 on Sunday, while Race Two is expected to take place a bit later on at 15:45. Of course, we will also have written race reports right here on TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk.