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 Australia Touring Car Series, The 2020 New Zealand Touring Car Championship, The 2019 TCR UK Touring Car Championship, The 2019 TCR Europe Touring Car 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.
Winton hosted TCR Australia’s pre-season test day
Twelve cars took part in an open test session at the Winton Raceway, as teams and drivers start to get into race mode for the opening round of the 2019 TCR Australia Touring Car Series that kicks off at Sydney Motorsport Park on May 17-19.
Almost all of the confirmed drivers were able to sample their new cars, but no official lap times were recorded from the test. For many teams, it was the first time that they had the chance to put their new TCR cars to test.
Subaru rally star Molly Taylor was a popular figure in pit lane, attracting the lion’s share of media attention as she gets to grip with her new circuit racing role. The Hyundai HMO Customer Racing team brought one car to the test, allowing young gun Will Brown his first laps in the i30 N TCR. Jason Bright enjoyed a productive day in his Volkswagen Golf GTI.
The only confirmed cars that were not at Winton were the Garry Rogers Motorsport-prepared Renault Méganes and one of Kelly Racing’s Opel Astras. Those three cars will arrive in Australia this week.
Stefano Comini launches the TCR Europe Academy
Double TCR International Series champion Stefano Comini has launched The TCR Europe Academy that will begin its activities this summer. Based in Switzerland, The TCR Europe Academy will operate at different racetracks around Central Europe.
The Academy will offer drivers different options for approaching TCR competition through three levels: Performance, Master and Advanced.
- 3-day Performance Course: focusing on theory on day one that will be followed by two days of on-track apprenticeship. The course is aimed at young drivers and at those who approach TCR and Touring Car competition for the first time.
- 2-day Master Course: dedicated to those who have attended the Performance Course and to racing drivers with proven experience. It will mainly consist of track activities, accompanied by in-depth analysis of theoretical knowledge. It will focus on performance and driving technique.
- 1-day Advanced Course: a private individual lesson for drivers who have already attended the Performance Group. The programme will be customized according to the driver’s characteristics.
Activity and practice sessions during the courses will include: physical and psychological training, simulations with specific training programmes, on board cameras, starting procedures, car set-up, telemetry analysis, overtaking techniques, racing strategies for sprints and endurance, simulation of a whole racing weekend (qualifying, sprint and endurance races).
All coaches will be experienced TCR drivers and, for on-track activities, TCR racing cars with DSG and sequential gearboxes will be used.
Daniel Lloyd joins Brutal Fish for TCR Europe
Brutal Fish Racing Team has confirmed that reigning TCR UK Champion Daniel Lloyd will make his debut in the 2019 TCR Europe Touring Car Series at the Hockenheimring at the end of May after securing a seat with the Slovak-based team.
The Yorkshireman will compete in the remaining six rounds of the season, whilst continuing with his TCR China Touring Car Championship program, where he also drives a Honda Civic TCR FK7 for Dongfeng Honda Racing Team.
The Huddersfield-based racer will partner Brutal Fish Racing Team Owner Martin Ryba, as the Slovak squad expands to a two-car lineup for the rest of the year. Ryba has already competed in the opening rounds of the series in Hungary two weeks ago.
Lloyd is already a known talent in TCR competition, where he drove for Craft-Bamboo Racing in the 2017 TCR International Series, before moving to the TCR UK Touring Car Championship last year with WestCoast Racing. Lloyd secured the Drivers title in the penultimate round after a dominant season.
TrackTec Racing confirms it will race in TCR New Zealand
TrackTec Racing is the first team that confirmed its plan to take part in the inaugural 2020 New Zealand Touring Car Championship next year.
The newly-formed team is based at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell and is led by engineer Matt Waters who has experience in Formula 1, Formula 2, IndyCar and Formula E.
The outfit has purchased an Audi RS 3 LMS that will be run in the South Island Endurance Series before joining the TCR New Zealand Series in 2020. A second Audi car will be purchased soon, as the team may enter up to four TCR cars in the new series.
“Our main focus is on the TCR championship,” Waters said. “I think TCR is going to become the premiere saloon car series in New Zealand. I feel that a lot of people who do endurance racing will go this route. I feel that TCR is a very cost-effective way of racing for what you’re going to get. I think it’s going to be really good for New Zealand motorsport.”
Two wins for CUPRA cars at the first TCR UK event
Carl Swift and Oliver Taylor shared race victories in the opening event of the 2019 TCR UK Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park.
Swift inherited the win when race one was red-flagged, following an incident that involved the leading pair of cars. A poor start from pole-sitter Henry Neal (TCT class) saw the two CUPRA cars of Taylor and Swift pass the Honda. The pair then ran first and second, with Taylor steadily opening up a lead, with the recovering Neal attacking Swift for second place.
Neal briefly took second place at the start of lap five, but Swift then retook the position. Neal then attacked again and succeeded in taking second from Swift before setting off in pursuit of Taylor who drove a superb defensive race, holding off a series of determined passing moves from Neal until lap eleven when the pair made contact and Neal took the lead briefly.
They swapped positions until they made contact again, with both cars ending up in the barriers. The race was then red-flagged, leaving Swift to take the victory with Sunny Wong finishing on the podium on his TCR UK debut.
In race two, Swift started from pole position, but the Success Ballast he picked up following his win meant that he was outgunned off the start line by the TCT Audi of Alex Day; Taylor made up three places to lie in third place behind Swift.
On lap two, Taylor passed Swift for second and then took the lead two laps later. Swift had been threatening to snatch second position away from Day, but an off-track excursion meant that Neal moved up into third place.
Neal resumed the battle he had had with Taylor in Race one, but the leader was able to keep him at bay until the end. Swift finished third and so left Oulton Park in the lead of the Drivers’ championship.
Three for three in thrilling WTCR Slovakia weekend
The 2019 FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) moved to Slovakia for its third weekend of racing and the Slovakiaring provided three action-packed races on Sunday.
With Balance of Performance seeing its first adjustment since the original test back in March, this had an effect on the field as there were several surprises from the teams as they struggle to get the cars adapted to the circuit with the new restrictions.
There three different winners from each of the WTCR races, with Néstor Girolami extending his championship lead with a race two win despite retiring from races one and three. Frédéric Vervisch took his first win of the year in race one whilst Ma Qing Hua took his first ever WTCR victory in the final race of the day.
This weekend will see six TCR Series in action, with the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) moving to Zandvoort, the ADAC TCR Germany Touring Car Series racing at the Most Autodrome, the TCR Italy Touring Car Championship at Misano, The TCR Russia Touring Car Series competing at Nizhniy Novgorod and the TCR Eastern Europe Trophy powered by ESET racing at the Red Bull Ring.
Finally, two brand new TCR Series get underway this weekend with The TCR Australia Touring Car Series holding its first ever event at Sydney Motorsport Park and the TCR Japan Touring Car Series making its debut at Autopolis.