TCR touring car series are springing up all over the world. On Easter Sunday the first round of the UK’s newest touring car series will take place on Silverstone’s National circuit. Welcome to TCR UK.
How did TCR come about?
At the beginning of 2014 the World Touring Car Championship brought in their new TC1 regulations to replace the Super 2000 cars that had been running for over 15 years. At the same time the European Touring Car Cup was expected to run to TC2 regulations, a concept one step down from TC1. As it turned out TC1 proved too expensive and not quite technically interesting enough for many manufacturers to commit to the series. Honda, Chevrolet, Lada and Volvo were among the few manufacturers to make TC1 machinery but ultimately it was the dominance of the Citroens in 2014 and 2015 which killed the interest of the other manufacturers.
At around the same time Marcello Lotti and his ML International company became involved in touring cars. Lotti looked at the success he had made of the GT3 sportscar regulations and decided to do something similar in the touring car world. With inspiration taken from the SEAT Leon single make trophy, TC3 was born with the aim of affordable racing for privateer teams. Balance of Performance was to be used to make sure that cars from every manufacturer were as competitive as possible. TC3 was soon renamed TCR standing simply for ‘Touring Car Racing’.
TCR cars first ran in 2015 and since then a host of national championships have taken the regulations and applied them to their national touring car championships. No less than ten national championships will take place in 2018 and the World Touring Car Championship itself will run to TCR regulations for the first time and be rebranded as the WTCR. TCR cars also have their own class in endurance series such as the 24H Series and the VLN.
Which cars can race?
To date there are 12 manufacturers that have cars homologated to the TCR regulations with as many as 16 expected before racing begins in ernest around the world in 2018. The most common cars seen are probably the VW Golf, Seat’s Leon model, Honda’s Civic Type-R, the Audi RS3 LMS and Hyundai’s i30.
The main technical regulations of a TCR car are –
Production based 4 or 5 door model
2 Wheel Drive
2.0 Litre Turbocharged engine
350bhp power and torque of 420Nm (depending of BoP)
6 speed sequential gearbox
1265kg minimum weight (including driver)
Control rear wing and floor splitter
Based on the manufacturer’s production road cars, a brand new TCR car is generally priced around the £120,000 mark. Very good second hand cars can be sought for around £80,000. With lap times of just a second slower than a BTCC car but for around a third of the price, TCR touring cars are a very attractive piece of kit indeed, and not just looks wise.
When is TCR UK racing in 2018?
The British Racing and Sports Car Club, the same group that organises the British GT Championship, will run a 7 event / 14 round series for the inaugural TCR UK Championship. The calendar is –
31st March/1st April – Silverstone National
12th/13th May – Knockhill Reverse
2nd/3rd June – Brands Hatch Indy
14th/15th July – Castle Combe
4th August (Sat) – Oulton Park International
8th/9th September – Croft
13th/14th October – Donington Park National
The main interest of this very strong calendar has been the announcement that the Knockhill round will be run in its reverse configuration meaning a whole new challenge even for those drivers that have raced at the Scottish circuit before. The addition of Castle Combe adds a ‘club’ feel to the year whilst the drivers will be taking in the notorious banked Shell Oils Corner during the Oulton Park round.
The BRSCC have made TCR the main event on their racing weekends and they will be joined by some excellent support series through the year. The Avon Tyres Formula Ford 1600 Championship and Mazda MX-5 Supercup will run at every event whilst the Milltek Volkswagen Cup and the Civic Cup will run at selected meetings. A host of Caterham series will be in attendance at Knockhill and Brands Hatch with many other BRSCC championships supporting throughout the year.
Who are the drivers?
The TCR UK organisers have said right from the off that they will not announce any entries until the Media Day which takes place at Silverstone on Wednesday 6th March. However a number of drivers have already announced or indicated their involvement in the series via their own social media platforms. These include Finlay Crocker and VFR Racing who will field a brand new Honda Civic Type R. Runner up in the 2017 Fiesta Championship, Lewis Kent, has confirmed he is entering a Hyundai i30 whilst Welsh team Spencer Sport have also took delivery of their Hyundai for the 2018 series. Carl Swift and Area Motorsport are expecting to run a Seat Leon whilst Volkswagen Cup racer Darelle Wilson should be on the grid in an Audi RS3.
In addition to those, former BTCC racer Stuart Lines will run a Maximum Motorsport Seat Leon either for himself or for a yet to be announced driver. Sean Walkinshaw racing are thought to be looking at entering a pair of Honda Civics and Motorbase are hoping to enter a pair of VW Golfs alongside their very successful BTCC operation.
The fact TCR cars are 99% similar in all their various categories across the world (except for such as regional tyre choices, for example) means that it would be very easy for teams and drivers from other series to race in the UK either for the full season for one-off rounds.
With all this in mind we expect something around 15 to 20 cars to be announced on Media Day with more in attendance at various times through the year. Overtake Motorsport look forward to March 6th with great anticipation and excitement!
What is the weekend format?
Quite simply the format of the weekend for the TCR cars will be a practice followed by a 30-minute qualifying session on the Saturday. Sunday will consist of two 30-minute races.
The schedule will be compacted at Oulton Park as all sessions will be run on the Saturday.
How can I watch?
TCR UK recently announced that all races will be shown live via Facebook, TCR’s YouTube channel and the TCR website. Races will also be shown on Front Runner, Motorsport TV and Sky Sports though the exact nature of the programmes (live, highlights, etc.) is not yet fully known.
The coverage will be produced by Pro-Active Broadcast and be fronted by Bryn Lucas who has previously hosted both the Goodwood Festival Of Speed and Autosport Show coverage. Overtake Motorsport has this week spoke to Lucas. “I have covered a great number of championships over the years and to be there for the inaugural season of the TCR UK is a real honour” he says. “I cannot wait to get started. The cars look amazing, TCR always produces great drama, and this year ahead is going to be no exception. I hope the viewers and race fans enjoy the season as much as I will.”
Of course you can always catch the action by attending the various rounds in person throughout the year. A (hopefully) sunny summer’s Saturday at the picturesque Oulton Park on August the 4th would be our choice if we were only allowed to pick one!
Rest assured that Overtake Motorsport will be reporting on all the build up to the season as well as the action and stories throughout TCR UK’s first ever season. Stay tuned!
Feature Image Credit – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2015_TCR_International_Series_Malaysia_Race_1_start.jpg