Just outside Turin in Italy, BRC Racing Team held the launch party for their assault on the 2019 World Touring Car Cup (WTCR). During which, two sub-teams were launched by the outfit in order to comply with the WTCR’s new-for-2019 entry quotas.
The quota states that each team must field exactly two cars, however BRC has four drivers signed up to compete in the series this year. As such, BRC Racing have split their resources across two separate teams for this year, ensuring that they can still run a quartet of Hyundai within the regulations of the competition.
The first team shall go by the name of ‘BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse‘, which will see reigning WTCR champion Gabriele Tarquini once again partnered with his 2018 team-mate, Norbert Michelisz. The Squadra Corse will race in the predominantly blue livery, as shown in the title image of this article, which has been widely hailed as an improvement upon the cars’ 2018 appearance.
As the reigning champion, Tarquini will take up the honour of racing with the number #1 on his car this year. However, the Italian veteran acknowledges that he faces a tough task ahead of him to retain the title:
“It will be a very competitive season as we look to defend the title. Honestly, I hope my closest challengers are the other drivers in the i30 N TCR! We saw last year how close the battle for the title was – coming down to the final laps of the year – and it will be the same in 2019. Everyone will have been working over the winter, and we have new rules of the series, new drivers and a new track to contend with before we reach the end of the season.”
After bedding into new team surroundings and a new car last year, Michelisz – who will sport the number #5 this year – has lofty ambitions for the season ahead:
“This year, I am aiming to win the title. With what Gabriele achieved last year I know I am in the right car and the right team to be able to do it, but the FIA WTCR is very long, and so much can happen. It will be so important to be consistent. It’s going to be important to be the fastest of course, but at the same time it might also be the smartest driver who is celebrating at the end of the season.”
The remaining two cars which BRC shall run this year will compete under the ‘BRC Hyundai N Lukoil Racing Team‘ banner, with the major Russian oil firm swapping allegiance this year. Last year, Lukoil were a sponsorship partner of the Team WRT Audi operation, but their colours will be emblazoned upon a pair of Hyundai in 2019. The substantially more red livery of the Lukoil Racing Team can be seen below:
Driving the cars will be a pair of familiar faces who return to the WTCR paddock after spending years elsewhere. Brazilian ace, Augusto Farfus, will embark on a dual campaign that’ll see him swap between the #8 Hyundai i30N TCR and BMW’s various GT commitments. In fact, Farfus last appeared in World Touring Cars with the German marque during the mid-late 2000s. Alongside the likes of Andy Priaulx and Jorg Muller, Farfus made a name for himself in that era but never managed to lift the drivers’ championship title. That is something which he hopes to put right this time:
“Watching last year’s WTCR as a spectator was really fun – some of the best world-level Touring Cars I’ve seen for some time. You could see from the results that the Hyundai was one of the best, if not the best, car in the category. As a driver you always want to be in the top series, in the most competitive car, so when the chance came up to drive the i30 N TCR with a customer team in 2019 it was an easy choice to join them. The season will bring some new challenges, but I think that we can face them with confidence and get some good results.”
Joining Farfus in the second #88 Lukoil-sponsored car is Dutchman, Nicky Catsburg – another racer with affiliations to BMW’s GT programme. Catsburg was snapped up by the German marque at the end of 2017 following Volvo’s withdrawal from World Touring Car competition. In his short time with the Swedish team, Catsburg proved himself to be a very capable touring car driver, and was delighted to be able to return this year with the Hyundai:
“I’m really looking forward to going racing. I saw some races last year, and it was always very close and very competitive. I think that the WTCR will suit my driving style quite well, and I’m excited for the season, especially thinking of the races at the Nürburgring to come. Above all, I’m looking forward to working with Augusto and the BRC Hyundai N Lukoil Racing Team to start taking points and race wins on track.”
Hyundai Motorsport Team Director, Andrea Adamo, will have to split his attention between Hyundai’s efforts on the circuit and off-road this year, having been promoted to oversee their World Rally Championship programme as well this season. Nevertheless, the Italian is still keenly focused upon the upcoming WTCR campaign. Adamo said:
“The 2019 FIA WTCR season is just around the corner and it looks set to be another highly competitive season. Over the winter break, we have supported our customer racing teams and drivers in their preparations. The i30 N TCR was incredibly successful in the series last year, which has set the benchmark for the season ahead. Both teams, and all four drivers, are worthy championship contenders, and we wish them all the best for the challenge ahead. We are under no illusions as to the challenge our customers will face but we are ready to support them every step of the way.”
BRC Racing Team Principal, Gabriele Rizzo, also had his say on what lies ahead for his team this year:
“The Hyundai i30 N TCR represents one of the strongest chassis available for the TCR regulations. The car is reliable and strong in all the main technical areas – braking, cornering, speed, aero and engine. We are convinced we have the ideal package to approach the season, and the best driver line-up we could have dreamed of. Last year we won the FIA WTCR with Gabriele and we finished second in the teams’ standings. The 2019 season is set to be definitely more competitive than 2018. Our mission is confirm our teams and drivers at the top, fighting for the overall victory until the last corner of the last race.”