TCR Series Roundup: 30 April – 6 May

by Phil Kinch

During 2019, The Checkered Flag is rounding up the news and results from the various TCR Series around the world on a weekly basis.

This weeks review includes The 2019 TCR Scandinavia Touring Car Championship, The 2019 TCR Asia International Series, The 2019 TCR Australia Touring Car Series, The 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship, The 2020 ETCR Series, The 2019 IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge Series and The 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR).

Here’s a look at all of the action and announcements from the last seven days.

Luca Engstler secures WTCR Slovakia Wildcard entry

Luca-Engstler-Wildcard-Slovakiaring-WTCR

Image Credit: TCR Hub

Luca Engstler has been announced as the first wildcard entry for the 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) event at the Slovakiaring.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Franz, Engstler will make his world level racing debut with the family team. As part of the newly-formed Hyundai young driver academy, Engstler will compete behind the wheel of a familiar i30 N TCR.

Despite being just 19 years old, Engstler has been a part of the TCR family for a few years now. The youngster made his debut with the family team back in 2017 in TCR Germany. Since then, he has transitioned from Volkswagen to Hyundai and has shown a rapid rate of development. In 2018, Engstler became a double TCR champion, picking up the drivers’ championship trophy in both the TCR Middle East Series and the TCR Asia Series.

This year, Engstler added the TCR Malaysia championship to his title honours but will be splitting his full-time commitments between TCR Asia and TCR Europe for the rest of the season. The opportunity to appear as a wildcard in the WTCR represents yet another step up in calibre and will prove to be a valuable learning experience.

Will Brown to drive a Hyundai for HMO Customer Racing

The HMO Customer Racing Hyundai. Credit: TCR Hub / TCR Australia

HMO Customer Racing announced that Will Brown will drive its second Hyundai i30 N TCR car in the 2019 TCR Australia Touring Car Series alongside his former Super2 Series teammate Nathan Morcom.

The 21-year old is one of only five drivers to achieve two national circuit titles in Australia in the same year, after winning both the Australian Formula 4 Championship and Australian Toyota 86 Series in 2016. Brown is a recipient of the 2017 Peter Brock Medal and Mike Kable Young Gun Award, awarded to the best first-year driver across the Supercar Championship and Super2 Series.

“Personally, I’m stoked to be on board with the HMO Customer Racing Team. It’s a great opportunity for me, the cars look really cool and the HMO Customer Team are all great people so it was a bit of no brainer in the end. I’m definitely looking forward to driving the Hyundai, the car looks pretty competitive overseas so it should be pretty capable of fighting up front,” said Brown.

“The ultimate goal would be to win the series. I’ve done a lot of production car racing like TCR so I’m confident I’ve got what it takes to run up the top end of the field.”

Rik Breukers to race in TCR Australia’s opening event

Rik Breukers will drive an Audi RS3 LMS in the opening weekend for TCR Australia Credit: Alexandre Guillaumot / DPPI

Rik Breukers will drive an Audi RS 3 LMS for Melbourne Performance Centre in the opening round of the 2019 TCR Australia Touring Car Series at Sydney Motorsport Park this month.

The 20-year old Dutch driver has secured the one-off drive, giving the inaugural TCR Australia race a distinctly international feel.

Breukers currently drives for leading GT squad WRT, competing in an Audi R8 LMS in the Blancpain Endurance GT Championship. He recently won the Dubai 24 Hours and is also a two-time class winner of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Breukers has competed in numerous TCR events across the world, and two weeks ago won the 12H Spa-Francorchamps sharing a CUPRA with his father Ivo.

Cherry Cheung joins Teamwork Motorsport for TCR China

Cherry Cheung in the Teamwork Motorsport Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR. Credit: Hussein Zain

After making her TCR debut earlier this year in TCR Malaysia’s season finale at Sepang, Cherry Cheung will compete for Teamwork Motorsport in the 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship.

Cheung started out racing only last year, where she has been coached and trained by race driver and member of the Teamwork Motorsport operation, Samuel Hsieh. During the course of the season, Cherry became a regular front-runner in the Chinese Racing Cup.

After driving the team’s Volkswagen Golf GTI in Malaysia, for her TCR China campaign, Cheung will sit at the wheel of an Audi RS 3 LMS. Alex Hui will be driving the Teamwork Motorsport sister car.

Further driver announcements for TCR Australia

the TCR Australia field has taken shape with more drivers signing up. Credit: TCR Australia

Kelly Racing and Ashley Seward Motorsport announced drivers for the 2019 TCR Australia Touring Car Series last week.

Molly Taylor will drive one of the Kelly Racing’s Subaru WRX STI cars this season, with the 30-year old being was the first of four drivers confirmed for the teams TCR effort. Taylor’s drive in the TCR Series will mark her first full attack on a circuit racing championship having carved her career in the Australian and international rally scene. She has tested a Subaru TCR late last year at the Cremona Circuit, near Milan.

Alex Rullo has been confirmed in one of Kelly Racing’s Opel Astra TCR cars. The West Australian is no stranger to the team, having driven alongside Simona De Silvestro in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship endurance races last year.

Despite being just 18 years old, Rullo has a wealth of top-level experience under his belt. He started his national career in the Super3 V8 Series at the age of 14, followed by a season in Super2 before progressing to Supercars.

Meanwhile, Dylan O’Keeffe will compete for Ashley Seward Motorsport in one of the Garry Rogers Motorsport-owned Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce cars.

O’Keeffe is one of the rising stars of Australian motorsport, having learnt his craft in Porsche racing at both state and national levels. Last year, O’Keeffe enjoyed a successful stint in the Australia Porsche Carrera Cup, finishing sixth outright before making the step to the Super2 Supercars Series with GRM this year.

Ashley Seward Motorsport will run a joint program with GRM to run the Alfa Romeo that will see the two organisations supporting each other with technical information, data and logistics.

Williams Advanced Engineering to Power ETCR

The 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) in Marrakech. Credit: Frederic Le Floc’h / DPPI

WSC Group has chosen Williams Advanced Engineering to design, develop, manufacture and supply the batteries and vehicle control modules (VCMs) for the first electric multi-brand Touring Car racing series, ETCR, the future of motorsport and electric mobility. Racing between revolutionary electric cars will start in 2020, supported by a range of engagement and entertainment activities from WSC.

In the near future, the series aims to position itself as the leading motorsport platform for R&D of electric vehicle technologies to be applied to road cars. ETCR will seek to make motorsport relevant to a wider range of production vehicles and provide a marketing platform to demonstrate new and existing technologies and innovation. WSC plans to aim the series at motorsport lovers, enthusiasts of new technologies and their sustainable application.

Engstler and Lloyd double up at Zhuhai TCR Asia TCR China joint encounter

The TCR Asia and TCR China combined races at Zhuhai. Credit: TCR Asia-Ying Ching Heng

The first race at Zhuhai for the combined 2019 TCR Asia International Series and The 2019 TCR China Touring Car Championship encounter ended behind the safety car after Douglas Khoo’s CUPRA had gone off.

Luca Engstler claimed his second victory of the season as he led from the start to the end and re-took the lead in the standings two points clear of his teammate Diego Moran. Engstler was followed by Pepe Oriola in second position, whilst 2018 TCR UK Champion Daniel Lloyd and Filipe de Souza were classified third and fourth respectively and topped the TCR China classification.

During the first lap, both Lloyd and Oriola overtook Moran who would progressively drop to finish seventh. Engstler built a leading gap of a few seconds, while midway through the race, Oriola passed Lloyd for second. Behind them, de Souza, Alex Hui and Martin Xie were all able to pass Moran. Hui and Xie completed the podiums of TCR Asia and TCR China respectively.

The second TCR Asia and TCR China joint race at Zhuhai finished behind the safety car once again. Just like in race one, Engstler was the first to cross the finishing line. His team-mate Moran and Eurasia Motorsport’s Daniel Miranda followed to secure a Hyundai 1-2-3. NewFaster Racing’s Huang Chu Han was classified fifth overall and won the TCR China race.

Pole sitter Kenneth Look stalled at the start as Roland Hertner took the lead from Oriola, Adam Khalid, Hui and Engstler. On lap one, Engstler moved up to third, then Hertner went wide at the last turn and dropped behind Oriola and Engstler. On lap two, Engstler stole the lead from Oriola, but then Hertner went off following contact with Moran and the safety car was deployed.

Racing resumed on lap six as the rain began to fall. Engstler led from Oriola, Hui, Lloyd, Xie and Moran. Oriola slipped off the track and was followed by Lloyd, Xie and Souza. Only Lloyd was able to rejoin at the back of the field. With three cars stranded onto the gravel, the safety car was prompted into action once again.

When action resumed on lap eleven, Moran and Miranda passed Hui and moved up to second and third, but a pileup that involved Khalid, Khoo and Cherry Cheung resulted in a third intervention of the safety car. The chequered flag was waved at the end of the following lap, at the completion of the 75% of the planned distance.

Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Wernersson share the spoils in TCR Scandinavia premiere

Andreas Wernersson leads the TCR Scandinavia standings after two races. Credit: Bengt-Åce Gustavsson

Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Andreas Wernersson claimed wins in the opening weekend of action in The 2019 TCR Scandinavia Touring Car Championship at Ring Knutstorp.

2017 champion Robert Dahlgren beat Tobias Brink in a close fight for the second position in race one, where his team-mate Åhlin-Kottulinsky took the win and completed a 1-2 finish for PWR Racing.

It was raining when Åhlin-Kottulinsky sprinted from pole position to take the lead from Brink, Dahlgren, Wernersson, Andreas Ahlberg and Hannes Morin. Mattias Andersson spun after contact with Dahlgren and dropped at the back of the field. At the end of the first lap, the safety car was deployed to recover Andre Kill’s Audi that had stalled on the grid.

The race resumed on lap four with Brink and Dahlgren fighting for second place, while Ahlberg overtook Wernersson for fourth as Morin skidded off the track and rejoined in eighth position.

The track began to dry and on lap six, where Dahlgren overtook Brink for second, before the pair began to close in on the leader. Åhlin-Kottulinsky’s margin was reduced to eight-tenths of a second on lap thirteen before she was able to respond, increasing her pace whilst her team-mate Dahlgren struggled to keep Brink at bay.

Andreas Ahlberg and Tomas Engström in the Micke Kågered Racing VW Golfs. Credit: Bengt-Åce Gustavsson

The second TCR Scandinavia race at Ring Knutstorp provided plenty of emotion, with Wernersson taking a lights-to-flag victory as he resisted pressure from Dahlgren on a drying track and surviving two safety car periods.

Dahlgren who was later dropped from second to sixth by a penalty, allowing teammates Andreas Ahlberg and Tomas Engström to be classified second and third followed by a recovering Mattias Andersson.

Race one winner Åhlin-Kottulinsky did not finish as she got the worst out of a clash with Tobias Brink. The fight for the positions behind leader Wernersson were close with Dahlgren chasing Morin, while Åhlin-Kottulinsky went off after making contact with Brink on lap four.

The safety car was deployed for a couple of laps and when racing resumed, Dahlgren pushed Morin wide and moved up to second. Morin dropped one more place behind Ahlberg and then lost more positions after running wide on lap nine.

On lap thirteen, the safety car returned on track after Louise Frost’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta went off the track. When the race resumed for the final four laps, Dahlgren tried in vain to steal the lead from Wernersson. Eventually, he crossed the finishing line in second place but was dropped by a ten-second penalty for his incident with Morin.

Andersson put in a great show in the final laps. After pitting for slick tyres he elbowed his way through the field and recovered to the fourth position, that became third when Engström too was hit by a penalty for an incident with Brink.
The victory also means that Wernersson is leading the standings, two points over Ahlberg and six ahead of Åhlin-Kottulinsky.

Lewis and Wilkins claim last gasp victory for Hyundai

The Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N. Credit: Bryan Herta Autosport

All eyes were glued to the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge TCR battle in the final fifteen minutes at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It was Hyundai versus Audi as the race approached the chequered flag, with Bryan Herta Autosport’s #98 Hyundai Veloster N battling against Audi RS 3 LMS entries from Mark Motors Racing and Roadshagger Racing.

Michael Lewis in the Hyundai had all he could handle against Remo Ruscitti in the #81 Mark Motors Audi, with the two continuously swapping lead changes. The #61 Roadshagger Audi of Jon Morley lurked in third and was looking to make a move to second if one of the top two faltered.

Two moves decided the race with the first coming with less than three minutes remaining. At that point, Lewis slid his Hyundai around Ruscitti and another car blocking the latter to take the lead. The move solidified Hyundai’s first IMSA win in just its third start for Bryan Herta Autosport, Lewis and co-driver Mark Wilkins. On top of this, the pair finished an outstanding fifth overall, 33 seconds behind the race winning Porsche 718.

With Lewis’ pass, Ruscitti was relegated to second and left to battle Morley. Contact with the #61 sent Ruscitti spinning into the grass, ultimately winding up fourth, and Morley with co-driver Gavin Ernstone runner-up. Rounding out the podium in their best finish-to-date as rookies were Russell McDonough and Ryan Nash in the #12 ROWE Racing Audi RS3 LMS.

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