TCR Talk: The 2nd Year…

Its been an amazing 12 months in the World of TCR…

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Here’s a quick recap of what’s taken place…

Marcello Lotti had sat on the stage at the 2015 Autosport International Show at the NEC in Birmingham explaining his vision for the TCR International Series and also the regulations that would go on to serve both the International Series and also Domestic Series in years to come.

2015 would be a year that gave the regulations growth and interest as its first year of competition got underway at Sepang in Malaysia on 29th March 2015. Well established teams such as Craft-Bamboo Racing, WestCoast Racing, Team Target Competition, Engstler Motorsport and Campos Racing were amongst those on the grid and the numbers quickly rose from the original 14 entries that made the first grid. The number of various Manufacturers that would be represented during the first season was impressive as VW, Audi, SEAT, Ford, Opel, Honda, Subaru all saw action around the world.

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During a season that offered both excitement, intrigue, gamesmanship and close door to door racing on a myriad of different types of circuits that included support slots on the Formula One Calendar at Sepang, Shanghai and Singapore, racing at iconic venues such as Monza, Sepang, Valencia and the Red Bull Ring as well as taking part on the legendary Macau Street circuit, there was nothing held back for the fans as each race weekend held plenty of action with moments such as 4 cars wide into the first chicane at Monza, the fast slipstreaming action at the Salzburgring and Oriola/Comini tussling into Lisboa at Macau for the championship finale that saw Stefano Comini become the first TCR International Champion.

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However the TCR International Series wasn’t the only championship to get underway in 2015. The TCR Asia Series began in Malaysia in September with a small number of well known teams and drivers already established in the Asian Touring Car arena taking part that included Roadstar Racing, Asian Racing Team, FRD Motorsports and Prince Racing. After the first round at Malaysia, the TCR Asia Series joined the International Series at Singapore, Thailand and Macau to offer combined grids of at least 24-30 cars at all three events with Michael Choi becoming the first ever TCR Asia Champion.

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The off season has proven to give the TCR Regulations a big boost as not long after the Macau Finale, there were driver announcements and confirmations from teams regarding their 2016 plans. Add to this the fact there during the year there were announcements from different countries that they would be adopting the TCR regulations for domestic series in 2016. These include: Russia, China, USA, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Dominican Republic, Thailand, Benelux and Central America. However the biggest announcement was yet to come.

In December 2015, The FIA took the decision to use the TCR Regulations as the new template for their FIA TCN-2 Regulations for Domestic Touring Car series around the world. They also made the decision to allow the TCN-2/TCR cars into the same class as the outgoing Super2000 TC2 & TC2Turbo cars in the top tier of the FIA European Touring Car Cup. This decision now meant that any team wanting to race TCR machinery in Europe could now do this and also be eligible to challenge for victories in the ETCC. the beauty of the TCR regulations now meant that you can race a TCR Honda/SEAT/VW or any other TCR spec car in several different series throughout 2016 with minimal change to it.

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A further added bonus to the FIA incorporating the TCR Regulations into the ETCC is that both the WTCC and ETCC will race together in 2016 at one of the series blue riband events: The Nürburgring Nordschleife weekend, being held on May 26th-28th. New sporting regulations mean that the TC1 Touring Cars will start first with the ETCC Entrants starting 2-3 minutes later, offering larger grids and more competition and exposure.

So, as we look to the second year of TCR Regulations, there are big things happening already…

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The TCR European Trophy was launched last year. Here’s a quick explanations from Series Boss Marcello Lotti: “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.

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There is also news of large grids for two major series starting in 2016 with TCR Germany confirming that they have 23 registered entries for their first season whilst the TCR BeNeLux series has confirmed that they could have up to as many as 24 entries for their first season. Saturday 23rd January also sees the launch of the TCR Italy Series, which has chosen to setup a second class, called “TCS” to allow other competitors with cars that have engine capacities from 1.4 litre up to 1.8 litre to also race alongside the regular TCR entries.

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Another big draw has been the confirmation of 2015 Single Make Trophy ETCC Champion Dusan Borkovic who will drive a B3 Racing Team SEAT Leon in the International Series. The Serbian Titan already has previous FIA World Touring Car Championship and ETCC experience and will be one to watch in the 2016 season.

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What has also been good to see is the many announcements of teams buying some of the best TCR machinery around to use in the various series in 2016. There has been confirmations from many teams buying JAS Motorsport built Honda Civics, SEAT Sport built SEAT Leon’s and VW Motorsport Golfs. Add in that the Alfa Romeo TCR that is due to debut this year in TCR BeNeLux has spent a winter of testing and many will be watching to see how this new car goes as well as what progress has been made over the winter with the likes of the Ford Focus, the new Opel Astra TCR currently being developed and the fan popular Subaru Impreza

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Finally, here are the confirmed Calendars for some of the TCR series in 2016:

2016 TCR International Series:

April 3rd:     Bahrain, Bahrain (Formula 1 Support Bill)
April 24th:   Estoril, Portugal (Joint Weekend with TCR Portugal)
May 8th:      Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (FIA WEC Support Bill)
May 22nd:   Monza, Italy (Joint Weekend with TCR Italy)
June 5th:      Salzburgring, Austria
June 19th:    Oschersleben, Germany (Joint weekend with TCR Germany)
July 3rd:        Sochi, Russia.
Sept 18th:    Marina Bay, Singapore (Formula 1 Support Bill)
Oct 2nd:       Sepang, Malaysia (Formula 1 Support Bill)
Nov 20th:     Macau, SAR China (Joint Weekend with F3 Macau GP & FIA GT World Cup)

2016 TCR Asia Series:

May 15th:    Korea International Circuit, South Korea
June 12th:    Buriram International Circuit, Thailand
Aug 7th:        Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia
Sept 18th:    Marina Bay, Singapore (Formula 1 Support Bill)
Oct 23rd:      Zhejiang Circuit, China
Nov 20th:     Macau, SAR China (Joint Weekend with F3 Macau GP & FIA GT World Cup)

2016 ADAC TCR Germany Series:

April 17th:   Oschersleben, Germany (Joint weekend with ADAC GT Masters)
May 1st:       Sachsenring, Germany (Joint weekend with ADAC GT Masters)
June 19th:    Oschersleben, Germany (Joint weekend with TCR International Series)
July 24th:     Red Bull Ring, Austria (Joint weekend with ADAC GT Masters)
Aug 7th:       Nürburgring, Germany (Joint weekend with ADAC GT Masters)
Aug 21st:     Zandvoort, The Netherlands (Joint weekend with ADAC GT Masters)
Oct 2nd:      Hockenheim, Germany (Joint weekend with ADAC GT Masters)

2016 TCR BeNeLux

May 22nd:   Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (Joint Weekend with International GT Open)
July 17th:     Zandvoort, The Netherlands (Joint weekend with DTM)
Aug 20th:     Zolder, Belgium (Joint weekend with 24 Hours of Zolder)
Sept 25th:    Colmarberg, Luxembourg (Luxembourg Trophy)
Oct 23rd:      TT Circuit Assen, The Netherlands (Formido Finale Races)
Oct 30th:      Mettet, Belgium (Joint Weekend with Kronos 10 Hours of Mettet)

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When you take all of these developments into account, the TCR Phenomenon has literally exploded and expanded at a vast rate of knots in 12 months and it shows not signs of slowing down as the regulations enter their second year of competition.

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I have to admit, with so many TCR series starting up and competitors running cars that can be raced in any of these series, I have a small hope that sometime in the future we could see an event similar to one that took place between 1993 & 1995: The FIA Touring Car Challenge/FIA Touring Car World Cup. Like I said, I hold a small hope that something like this for TCR cars could take place, however with the Finale being held at Macau for the time being, this could be someway off.

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Please keep following my blog this year as I will be updating it with race reports from as many TCR Series as I can fit in this year. Please also feel free to join up to the TCR Talk Facebook Group that I run and follow my good self at Tintop Guru on twitter where I will be sharing all things TCR as well as many other series!

All the best!

Phil!

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