The TCR Europe series begins the run in to the end of the season at Assen this weekend, with leading protagonists Mikel Azcona and Dušan Borković separated by just one point at the top of the table.
After eight races so far this year, Azcona and Borković have emerged as the main title contenders, although by taking two very different paths.
PCR Sport’s Azcona has held firm at the top of the championship standings by virtue of scoring consistently, with the Spaniard having been in the points in almost every race, the exception being the last race at the Hungaroring.
Borković, by contrast, has taken more wins (three) than any other driver, but the Serb has also failed to consistently finish races, having suffered from a technical issue in race two at Zandvoort and crashed into a rival in the most recent race at the Hungaroring.
On raw pace, Borković appears to have the edge in his Target Competition Hyundai i30 N, with more wins to his name, but the Serbian driver needs to stay calm if he is to keep his title chances alive to the end of the season, after his accident in race two in Budapest came after he had just narrowed the deficit to Azcona to one point.
Hungarian Hyundai racer Dániel Nagy heads to The Netherlands third overall in the standings, 25 points adrift, seeking to score his first win after taking more podium finishes (four) than any other driver in the field.
With 25 points available for a win, all of the drivers in the top eight in the standings are technically still in the running for the title, but the task is getting ever harder. Fourth-placed Josh Files – the leading Honda driver – currently has a 44-point deficit to Azcona after one win. The Brit could potentially still narrow that gap if he can achieve more consistency, after suffering from four non-scores to-date.
Also not to be discounted is the sole full-season Audi driver on the grid, Jean-Karl Vernay. The Frenchman is fifth in the standings, just six points behind Files, despite being forced to miss the Zandvoort races. He has already tasted victory at Spa, and with the fast and flowing Assen likely to suit the RS3, Vernay could be one to watch this weekend as he seeks to throw his name firmly into the mix.
Most of the leading TCR Europe will be taking on the TT Circuit Assen for the first time this weekend, although there is still a strong contingent of local drivers from the Benelux region who have prior experience of the 4.545 km circuit, including leading Belgian driver Maxime Potty, currently tenth in the drivers’ championship standings.
In terms of the Balance of Performance [BoP] and compensation weights, both the CUPRA TCR and Hyundai i30 N TCR of the leading two drivers will be on the same weight, running at 1,305 kg, making them the heaviest cars on the grid.
The Audi RS3 LMS TCR and the Honda Civic Type-R FK8 TCR are the second-heaviest cars at 1,295 kg, whilst the Peugeot 308 TCR and the Volkswagen Golf GTi cars run at 1,285 kg and 1,275 kg respectively.
Qualifying and race one take place on Saturday, at 08:59 and 14:51 CEST (07:59 and 13:51 BST) respectively, with race two following at 11:00 CEST (10:00 BST) on Sunday.