The next stage of TCR’s rapid expansion across domestic and international touring car markets continues this Easter weekend with the inaugural TCR UK Series event.
The championship, which runs under the organisation of the British Racing & Sports Car Club (BRSCC), will field a 13-car grid for the opening two rounds on Silverstone’s National circuit.
British Touring Car Championship racer Aiden Moffat is one to watch after the Laser Tools Racing driver confirmed his participation earlier this week in an Alfa Romeo Guillietta TCR alongside ex-BTCC racer Derek Palmer Jr.
Maximum Motorsport’s Stewart Lines is another convert from the TOCA package, running a CUPRA Leon TCR – a model also eligible for the championship’s DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) Trophy.
TCR International Series competitors WestCoast Racing will field a trio of Volkswagen Golf GTi machines for experienced TCR pilot Daniel Lloyd as well as siblings Andreas and Jessica Backman.
Volkswagen Cup racer Darelle Wilson confirmed his participation in a Vauxhall Astra, as has Lewis Kent (Hyundai i30 N) and Finlay Crocker (Honda Civic Type R FK8), with a grand total of six different marques set to compete at the season opener, including Sean Walkinshaw Racing’s FK2 Type-R for Howard Fuller.
Following Silverstone, the series takes in further rounds at Knockhill, Brands Hatch, Castle Combe, Oulton Park and Croft before concluding at Donington Park in October.
Paddock View – Damian Meaden (UK National Editor)
Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room – much discussion has been made about the birth of a TCR championship on domestic shores, particularly given the almost monolithic position the British Touring Car Championship enjoys at the top of the market.
There’s absolutely no denying the TCR formula works, though. A total of 15 regional championships (including TCR UK) currently use the TCR regulations as their main class of competition, and when TC1 regulations started to cripple the now-defunct World Touring Car Championship, there was only one method forward. Step forward, the new-for-2018 FIA World Touring Car Cup, made possible by a merger with TCR’s International Series.
The UK championship has taken every care to position itself in the market at a level just beneath the BTCC, and enjoys a unique selling point in that it’s cars can be easily modified for international and domestic competition overseas – there’s nothing stopping drivers from contesting several TCR championships in a single season (step forward, Josh Files).
Some will undoubtedly compare the BTCC’s capacity 32-car entry with the 13 lined up for TCR UK at Silverstone this weekend and criticise. It’s the nature of the beast, but in this case the beast should be mindful that to come into a market as difficult as the UK and attract this many entries at a level similarly budgeted to the TOCA support package is an achievement in itself.
It’s asking drivers to put their faith in an emerging package, rather than follow the established route into contention for BTCC seats or GT drives.
To suggest both championship’s cant co-exist with healthy grid sizes is, in my opinion, a poorly-supported view to have, and if the series can kick start on the right foot in 2018, history shows us the only way forward for a TCR-backed championship tends to be consistent growth.
There are some very interesting years for the shape of touring car racing ahead.
It’s also easy to assume those with BTCC mileage to their names will emerge on top this weekend – Moffat, Lloyd, Lines, Palmer Jr and Fuller – but the large majority of the field have enjoyed plenty of testing, so whilst they’ll be at the sharp end on pure ability, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a more varied set of results.
As is normal for TCR championships, races will be live-streamed online, and TouringCars.net will be track side throughout the three-day event and across the entire season to bring you the latest news, features and reaction from a new chapter in UK touring racing.