TCR Update No.7…

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The TCR International Series returns from its break after being part of the support bill of the Singapore Grand Prix along with the TCR Asia field. Last weekend saw both series race in Thailand…

However that hasn’t stopped the news flowing…

Here are the latest updates…. 

Alain Menu to drive Subaru in Thailand and Macau

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Touring car ace Alain Menu will join the TCR International Series for the last two race meetings of the season in Thailand and Macau. The Swiss driver will be at the wheel of a Top Run-built Subaru STi TCR.

One of the most successful touring car racers of the latest twenty years, Menu claimed two titles in the British Touring Car Championship (1997 for Renault and 2000 for Ford) before switching to the FIA World Touring Car Championship in which he scored 22 race victories for Chevrolet, finishing twice on the Drivers’ Championship podium (second in 2012 and third in 2011).

“This will be one of the greatest challenges in my racing career, as in Thailand I will have to cope with a new team, a new car, a new championship and a new racetrack altogether. But I like challenges! Because Top Run is currently building a second car, I hope we will run a test before the event. In any case we will treat Thailand as a shake down, an occasion for us to get to know each other and prepare for Macau. I love the place, it is one of the most exciting circuits in the world and I have always been fairly competitive there. Therefore I wish we’ll be in a position to do well,” Menu said.

Team manager Renato Russo commented: “To have Alain driving for us is a unique opportunity. We couldn’t wish for a more experienced and faster driver to help us in the process of developing the Subaru TCR. For the whole team this is a fantastic motivation to do our best and give him a competitive car.”

Hugo Valente joins Campos Racing in Thailand

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French driver Hugo Valente will make a one off appearance in the TCR International Series on the next event at Buriram’s Chang International Circuit, Thailand.

Valente will drive one of the two Opel Astra OPC cars run by Spanish outfit Campos Racing. In the latest seasons, the 23-year old Frenchman has established himself as one of the fastest touring car youngsters, thanks to his performances in the FIA WTCC that resulted in some podium results.

“I’m excited to go to Thailand!” he said.“It’s always thrilling to discover new places, a new championship and a new circuit. I’m pleased that Campos Racing offered me the opportunity to participate in the TCR event and learn the track in view of the WTCC races. Campos Racing has been running the Opel and shown some good progress over the past few races. I want to help them to improve as much as I can, realistically it will be difficult to achieve good results, but our aim is to develop the car and learn the track. Races should be fun as I’ve always seen good battles in TCR! I’m looking forward to it!” 

500 guests attended the first TCR Open Day at Mettet 

The Circuit Jules Tachény at Mettet, Belgium, yesterday played host to the first TCR Open Day that was attended by more than 500 guests. 

The event was mainly intended as an opportunity offered to teams and drivers who are interested in joining one of the TCR racing series next year, to meet the representatives of car manufacturers and engineering companies, plus the promoters of the national championships in Europe that have either already adopted the TCR regulations or will do from next year: Benelux, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Russia and Spain.

Two press conferences served to launch the TCR European Trophy and the TCR Benelux Championship.

During the whole day 25 drivers coming from all over Europe had their first taste of a TCR machine, driving on the track at the wheel of Honda Civic and SEAT León cars run by JAS Motorsport and Bas Koeten Racing respectively. 

A small exhibition of TCR cars was also set up in the paddock with the new Opel Astra, Volkswagen Golf and Subaru STi alongside Honda and SEAT.

Marcello Lotti, promoter of the TCR concept, commented: “The participation was even larger than expected. We were literally overwhelmed by the influx of people who were asking for information or wanted to book tests and meetings. Indeed it was such a successful event that, by general request, we are thinking of organising an Open Day twice a year, at the beginning and the end of the season.”

TCR launches the European Trophy in 2016

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WSC Ltd, promoter of the TCR International Series, announced that a TCR European Trophy will be organised in 2016. 

CEO Marcello Lotti commented: “This is a commercial trophy, based on the cooperation with the promoters of the TCR national championships in Europe. The plan is to nominate six or seven events, one per each country that will have a TCR championship, and make four of them valid to award the Drivers’ and Teams’ European Trophies.”

A provisional list of events includes Benelux, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Russia. Only the competitors (teams or drivers) who have registered for the full season in one of these national championships will be eligible to score points in the European Trophy.

“Our priority is encouraging the participation in the national series, and we don’t want to see drivers and teams deciding to enter in the European Trophy rather than in their own country’s series,” Lotti explained.

Each round of the European Trophy will be run according to the Sporting Regulations of the hosting championship and all competitors will have to conform to the local prescriptions in terms of format, control tyres, etc.

Further details, including the 2016 calendar, will be unveiled in due course.

Opel will deliver first TCR cars by mid February

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The brand new Opel Astra OPC TCR broke cover at Mettet, Belgium, during the TCR Open Day that was attended by a large number of manufacturer representatives, promoters, teams, drivers and journalists.

The German car was at the centre of the attention and Opel Motorsport Director Jörg Schrott proudly presented the company’s new baby: “This is a prototype that we will use in the next days for the final aerodynamics tests. The following step will be the track testing, probably in Southern Europe in order to find favourable weather conditions. Our aim is to complete the technical development as soon as possible and be able to make the first contingent of ten cars available for sale by the mid of February. The plan is to have another twenty cars ready by the end of May.”

Talking about the participation in the different TCR series, Schrott explained:“Our priority are the International Series and ADAC TCR Germany, but we are also interested to extend the Opel presence in the other national championships in Europe. We are currently talking to a few teams with which we wish to establish high level partnerships; we will support them with a technical package, but they must be able to help in further technical development and to perform at a competitive level.”

The selling price of the Opel Astra OPC TCR has been fixed at 95000 euros plus VAT, including sequential gearbox with paddle-shift and the 100-litre fuel tank that will permit its participation in the long distance races.

Asia Racing Team to compete in Thailand & Macau

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The Asia Racing Team announced its participation in the two final events of the TCR International Series and TCR Asia, at Buriram and Macau. After dominating the inaugural race meeting of TCR Asia at Sepang, claiming victory in all the three races, the Zhuhai-based squad was forced to skip the Singapore event. The team has named Kevin Pu Jun Jin from China and local driver Tin Sritrai to drive its pair of SEAT León cars in Thailand.

The 31-year old Pu returns at the wheel of a front-wheel drive touring car three years after his maiden racing season in the Volkswagen Scirocco Cup China; in latest years Pu split his racing activity between single seaters and sportscars with brilliant results. “I have been looking to competing in TCR and I am very happy to get this opportunity. I never drove the SEAT Léon before and Buriram’s circuit is new to me. Nevertheless I will be aiming to perform my best at this event, hoping to finish on the podium in the TCR Asia and fight with the best of the international field,” he said.

Sritrai is facing his first appearance in an international series, but he can claim perfect knowledge of the Buriram circuit, as he leaves nearby. On top of this he is an experienced touring car driver in spite of his young age (25), having grabbed four titles in the Touring Car Series Asia and two in the Super 2000 class of the Thai Super Series in the last four years. “This will be a new challenge for me. The SEAT is a front-wheel drive turbo car; very different from what I am used to drive. I’m not going to know what to expect until I get out there on Friday and get a proper feeling of it. It’s going to be a great experience though and I’m going out to do a good job in front of my home fans,” Sritrai stated.

Team manager Philippe Descombes commented: “We are pleased to be back in the series with such a strong line up. Tin and Kevin are no stranger to the team. They both did well with us in single seaters and having them back at this event will be special for us. We are still leading the teams’ championship standings and we want to keep it that way. You never know until qualifying how the weekend will be, but we’re feeling confident.”

Team Target Competition confirms Thailand driver lineup

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Target Competition has confirmed its driver line-up for the next event of the TCR International Series that takes place next week in Thailand, at Buriram’s Chang International Circuit.

Just like in the previous race meeting at Singapore, current championship leader Stefano Comini will be joined once again by Rafaël Galiana from France and Loris Hezemans from Netherlands.

Comini will be focusing on defending his leadership in the Drivers’ standings, in which he has built a cushion of nine points ahead of Pepe Oriola; the Swiss driver will race with a carbon frame around his left knee due to a broken meniscus and strained ligaments. Meanwhile, the 18-year old Hezemans will be aiming for some brilliant results after he managed to score points in both his maiden TCR races at Singapore.

24H Series Confirms Class for TCR Regulation Cars

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WSC Ltd. and CREVENTIC announced an agreement to include a class for TCR-spec cars, ruled by the TCR Balance of Performance, in the 24H Series from 2016.

“TCR is growing quickly, with no less than 16 national and regional series announced for 2016, on top of the TCR International series, and an ever-increasing number of cars from various manufacturers becoming available. We are delighted for having reached an agreement with WSC to use the TCR Series’ regulations and BOP,” said Gerrie Willems on behalf of Dutch agency CREVENTIC, promoter of the 24H Series.

Marcello Lotti, CEO of WSC commented: “We are pleased and proud for the deal with CREVENTIC that makes the TCR cars eligible for the 24H Series, which is growing quickly after a successful maiden season. TCR cars have already proven to be exciting to drive in sprint races, but they are also extremely reliable and may be run in long distance races with a reasonable budget, giving more opportunities to teams and drivers to enjoy different experiences. We are looking forward to a long standing and successful cooperation between TCR and the 24H Series.”

The 2016 24H Series will kick off on 14-16 January with the 24H Dubai.
Five other rounds will follow:
12H Mugello (18-19 March)
24H Silverstone (1-3 April)
12H Zandvoort (6-7 May)
24H Paul Ricard (15-17 July)
24H Barcelona (2-4 September)
12H Brno (7-8 October).

Theres not a lot of news in this update, but theres sure to be plenty of action from Thailand this weekend!

Thats all of the news for now, keep an eye out for further updates on the world of TCR!!

All the best!

Phil!

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