The FIA has announced the initial entry list to the Touring Car Cup element of its new Olympic-style tournament, with some well-known stars set to take part.
The FIA Motorsport Games is a new competition where drivers shall compete for their country, as well as for personal pride, much like competitors do in the traditional Olympic Games.
In the past week, the initial entry lists for various events have been published, including the Touring Car Cup. For this competition, drivers will be using cars that conform to the TCR regulations created by Marcello Lotti‘s WSC organisation. So, let’s take a look at who’s getting involved, and what they’ll be driving:
First up is Team Germany, who will be represented by TCR Europe Series front-runner, Luca Engstler. Despite still only being nineteen years-old, Engstler is already a double champion in the Asian international TCR series, and also has titles from the Malaysian and Middle Eastern leagues too. For the FIA Motorsport Games, Engstler will be sticking to his tried and tested weapon of choice, the Hyundai i30N TCR. Undoubtedly, the youngster will be one of the favourites to win that gold medal.
Another competitor who’ll be driving a Hyundai i30N TCR is Dusan Kouril Jr. of Team Czech Republic. Born in 2002, 17 year-old Kouril Jr. even makes Engstler seem old, but don’t let his youth distort the fact that he’s already proving himself to be a driver who’s worth their salt. Competing with K2 Engineering, Kouril Jr. has been racing in the TCR Eastern Europe Trophy throughout 2019. During that time, he’s picked up two race victories and never finished off the podium in the races that he’s been classified in. He may be relatively unknown, but with a car as strong as the Hyundai, Kouril Jr. could well be a surprise package.
Keeping with the theme of talented youngsters, Luca Engstler will be joined by fellow TCR Europe Series front-runner, Gilles Magnus. Driving an Audi RS3 LMS TCR, Magnus will represent Team Belgium in the familiar RACB-backed car that he’s competed in all year. This is a proven package, and one which should see the 20 year-old challenge Luca Engstler for victory.
A second Audi RS3 will be entered by Team Russia for Klim Gavrilov who, you guessed it, is an up-and-coming star in the world of touring car racing. Gavrilov has been challenging for the TCR championship title in his native homeland this year, but has previously shown strong pace in the European and Italian TCR leagues too.
Also betting on the Audi to deliver the goods, Team New Zealand has entered a car for 23 year-old racer, Faine Kahia. Kahia has previously driven in Asian junior formulae, before switching to his local Ssangyong Utes series in more recent times.
Next up, a duo of brand new MG6 TCR cars have been entered for both Team United Kingdom and Team China; a nice nod to the MG brand’s native routes as well as it’s current ownership structure. The entries are subject to the car securing official homologation from the WSC governing body, but will offer a new layer of unpredictability should everything go to plan.
The United Kingdom’s entry is set to be piloted by Scottish superstar, Rory Butcher, who’s fresh from winning his home race at Knockhill in the British Touring Car Championship. 2019 has been something of a breakthrough season for Butcher, who finds himself right at the sharp end of the standings in this year’s edition of the BTCC.
As for Team China, their car shall be raced by Zhang Zhen Dong; an experienced and very fast driver who’s been integral to the development of the MG6 TCR so far. Zhang has been testing the new vehicle in the TCR China Series over the course of the past two events, and there has already been a lot of progress made between the two sets of races.
Alongside Team China, Team Hong Kong will be another Asian entry to the Motorsport Games. The team has entered a Honda Civic Type-R TCR for the accomplished touring car racer, Jim Ka To. A regular in the Chinese Touring Car Championship, Jim has plenty of experience in front-wheel drive racing cars, and was part of the team which drove this Honda in the Dubai 24 Hours earlier in the year.
Two other drivers have also been confirmed on the initial entry list. Gonzalo de Andres, who has been racing in various local GT and tin top series for the past fifteen years will represent Team Spain in a Peugeot 308 TCR. Meanwhile, Baltic Touring Car Championship regular Julius Adomavicius will represent Team Lithuania in a Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR.
Team Hungary have also confirmed their entry to the FIA Motorsport Games Touring Car Cup, however their chosen driver and car has not yet been announced.