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TCR UK gears up for strongest-ever season in 2023

The TCR UK season gets underway this weekend at Snetterton, with the series looking stronger than ever ahead of the sixth running of the touring car competition.

With a field of 24 cars for the opening round at the Norfolk circuit, the series has never before been able to boast such strong grid numbers for the first round of the year.

And it is not only strength in numbers, either. Whilst previous seasons have seen the UK offshoot of the popular international tin top formula fielding a higher number of older cars, for the forthcoming campaign many teams have elected to upgrade to the latest models in the TCR showrooms.

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Those upgrades also include a world-first: reigning champion Chris Smiley will return to the grid this year, with the Northern Irishman getting behind the wheel of the all-new Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR.

Chris Smiley, Restart Racing, Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR
Smiley will take to the grid in the global début of the new Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR. Photo: TCR UK

Restart Racing is the first team in the world to race the new JAS Motorsport-developed car in anger, attracting additional interest to the UK championship.

Former BTCC racer Smiley hit the ground running when he joined the series at the last-minute a year ago, so expect the 30-year-old to be fighting at the front from the off in his new steed this year.

“Just like last year, it’s been a crazy few weeks just ahead of the season start,” said Smiley. “Last year, we took delivery of the car just before the first race, and somehow we’ve ended up doing the same again.

“This time, we have the newest touring car in the world at our disposal, which means we know we have a car with fantastic potential, but with that we may need some time to understand it and work through any teething issues.

“So, we’re going in to this weekend aiming high, but we’re aware it’ll be a different year to last year.”

Whilst Smiley will draw attention for his new car, his team will also field a previous-generation FK7 Civic for Scott Sumpton, who enters into his second season in the series.

Bruce Winfield, Area Motorsport, Hyundai i30 N TCR
Bruce Winfield was a title contender in 2022, changing to Hyundai machinery at the season finale. Photo: TCR UK

The series will also see at least one Hyundai Elantra N on track for the first time, alongside the South Korean’s other models, with one Hyundai Veloster N and five Hyundai i30 N cars on track for the opening round.

For the opening round only, multiple TCR title winner Josh Files will be at the wheel of the Area Motorsport Elantra, with Luke Sargeant set to take over the ex-Target Competition car for various rounds this year.

Whilst 2020 and 2021 title winner Lewis Kent won’t be present on the 2023 grid, his brother Bradley will, taking over the Veloster Lewis raced last season.

Continuing with their i30 N cars in 2023 are Bruce Winfield – who is Smiley’s closest rival from last year with 2022 runner-up Isaac Smith not making the grid this year – Alex Ley and Adam Shepherd.

Callum Newsham switches from CUPRA to Hyundai machinery in an i30, with the final Korean hatchback being raced by newcomer Alistair Camp.

No less than four second-generation Audi RS3 LMS cars will be on track for the first round this year. New entrant Rob Boston Racing joins the grid, fielding cars for Jac Constable and rookie Joe Marshall, whilst Paul Sheard Racing has a pair of the German cars for Oliver Cottam and Garry Townsend.

A further two first-generations RS3s will also continue to be campaigned by MPHR’s Bradley Hutchison and Steve Gales, with both drivers benefitting from prior knowledge of their cars.

Carl Boardley, Zest Racecar Engineering, CUPRA Leon Competición TCR
Six CUPRA Leon Competición cars will be on the grid this year – this is Carl Boardley’s car. Photo: TCR UK

All bar one CUPRA has been upgraded to the latest Leon Competición model for 2023. There will be six of the second-generation cars on the grid, fielded by Four outfits.

Zest Racecar Engineering will run two CUPRAs for Dan Kirby and ex-BTCC racer Carl Boardley, whilst JW Bird Motorsport is running George Jaxon and Matthew Wilson.

Two more Leons are in the hands of one-car outfits for the opening round – Chameleon Motorsport is running Lewis Brown, whilst Jenson Brickley will run himself in one of the Spanish racers.

Rick Kerry – known to tin-top fans for his 2007 outings in a diesel BMW in the BTCC – is the sole representative of the first-generation CUPRA cars in his first foray into TCR racing.

The series’ fifth manufacturer representation comes from the sole Vauxhall Astra TCR of Darelle Wilson, who has been a stalwart of the series since the inaugural year in 2018.

His Astra might be the oldest car on the grid, but he was still able to challenge for the odd top ten result last year when the car proved reliable enough to make the finish.

The championship

The season consists of fifteen races held at seven UK circuits – most events feature two races per weekend, but the return to Knockhill in July will see three sprint races staged.

The championship kicks off on the Snetterton 300 circuit this weekend, 8 – 9 April, and concludes at Brands Hatch in October.

Entry List

Driver No. Team Car
Chris SMILEY 1 Restart Racing Honda Civic Type-R FL5 TCR
Bradley KENT 4 Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai Veloster N TCR
Josh FILES 9 Area Motorsport Hyundai Elantra N TCR
Jac CONSTABLE 11 Rob Boston Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II
Dan KIRBY 14 Zest Racecar Engineering CUPRA Leon Competición TCR
Callum NEWSHAM 16 JH Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR
Scott SUMPTON 27 Restart Racing Honda Civic Type-R FK7 TCR
George JAXON 28 JWB Motorsport with Trade Nation CUPRA Leon Competición TCR
Matthew WILSON 31 JWB Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR
Bruce WINFIELD 37 Area Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR
Lewis BROWN 39 Chameleon Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR
Carl BOARDLEY 41 Zest Racecar Engineering CUPRA Leon Competición TCR
Alistair CAMP 45 Pro Alloys Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR
Darelle WILSON 50 DW Racing Vauxhall Astra TCR
Rick KERRY 72 Team AFM Racing CUPRA TCR
Alex LEY 76 Area Motorsport with Daniel James Hyundai i30 N TCR
Oliver COTTAM 98 Paul Sheard Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II
Joe MARSHALL 99 Rob Boston Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II
Adam SHEPHERD 117 Area Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR
Garry TOWNSEND 223 Paul Sheard Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR II
Jenson BRICKLEY 246 Jenson Brickley Racing CUPRA Leon Competición TCR
Darron LEWIS 285 Darron Lewis Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR
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