TCR enters it’s third season of the Marcello Lotti developed concept in 2017 with more and more national and regional series’ adopting the rules set. With the 2017 season comes new cars and drivers for a more affordable touring car championship whether it be in the International series or one of the many national and regional series’.
Here’s how 2017 is shaping up so far-
Although the season starts on March 12th in Georgia the International Series has been a little slow at getting the entries in. Already confirmed are two Opel Astras from Belgian squad DG Sport with very experienced racer Pierre-Yves Corthals, the man who finished second for the team in TCR Benelux last season, with his teammate yet to be confirmed.
This year sees the first American team take part in the championship with Duncan Ende’s Icarus Motorsport. Ende will be the lead driver in the team, running a pair of SEAT Leons with the second driver to be announced.
WestCoast Racing have not yet confirmed their plans for 2017, however are expected to be on the grid with at least two new cars after they announced at the Macau season finale in 2016 that they will switch from the Honda Civics they have been campaigning for two seasons and a deal with a new title sponsor.
The future of reigning champions Leopard Racing, who took Stefano Comini to his second title in 2016, remains up in the air with the Luxembourg based energy drinks company reportedly in financial trouble, with WRT who run the two Volkswagon Golfs unsure of their future participation.
Another top team, Craft-Bamboo Lukoil, are also yet to make any announcements despite coming very close to the title with James Nash in 2016, however Top Run Motorsport and Mulsanne Racing have been competing in the Middle East Series more for development purposes with their Subaru WRX and Alfa Romeo Guilietta respectively and are expected to be on the grid.
TCR Asia has grown considerably since its inaugural season in 2015 and will be the first championship in 2017 to go completely standalone away from the International Series. They also have more cars confirmed already.
Reigning champions Team Engstler have committed to running two cars again with Thai racer Katandhee Kusiri, who was an absolute star in the Buriram round of the International Series in 2016 at the wheel of his Honda Civic, signed up to effectively replace outgoing champion Andy Yan, with Ecuadorian driver Diego Moran in the second of the team’s Volkswagon Golfs.
The Ford Focus TCR has had a troubled life so far, first with the British based Onyx squad, run by Proteam, in 2015, and then making only a handful of appearances last season after Hong Kong based outfit FRD Motorsports took over the development of the car. There is light at the end of the tunnel however, as FRD’s boss Kenneth Ma has confirmed that at least one car will compete in a full season with the second taking to the track as soon as possible.
Viper Niza Racing will also be back this year with a pair of SEAT Leons with the luckless Douglas Khoo, who was involved in far too many incidents last year, at the helm with his teammate yet to be confirmed.
Not officially called TCR Scandinavia but the STCC (Scandinavian Touring Car Championship), this season sees the championship switch from their TTA regulations which they have attempted to build up for the last few years, however only attracting eight full time entries in 2016. The Series would like to get back to the heyday of the S2000 regulations where it enjoyed much larger grids.
Although the championship doesn’t start until May 7th they already seem to have attracted more entries than last year, with nine cars confirmed so far. They will also see at least three of the new Audi RS3 LMS’.
The first two come from Brink Motorsport for Micke Ohlsson and Tobias Brink with the third for Anti Buri’s LMS Racing team, although Buri has not confirmed who will drive the car.
Biggest shock of the STCC this season is Robert Dahlgren. The Swede has driven for Volvo since 2003, and when the home grown manufacturer announced they wouldn’t build a TCR car the versatile racer quit motorsport to run a car dealership. He has since made a u-turn on those plans by joining SEAT Dealer Team PWR Racing in one of four Leons. Joining him will be Peter Wallenberg with the other two seats currently still vacant.
Also not on the grid will be Flash Engineering. Team boss Jan ‘Flash’ Nilsson was attempting to put a deal together with Nissan but unfortunately it all fell through at the final hurdle.
Th other two cars currently on the entry list are a Volkswagon Golf for Albin Warnelov run by Lestrup Racing Team and a Honda Civic from Rent A Wreck Racing, driven by Marcus Annervi.
Germany has once again become a touring car sensation, boasting three championships as it did in the 1990s with DTM, DTC-which has undergone a class restructure to allow TCR cars to compete- and the ADAC TCR Germany, which has confirmed thirty two entries for this year.
Of the confirmed entries in TCR Germany this year the biggest news comes from 2015 International champions Target Competition, with reigning champion Josh Files seemingly not in the Italian team’s plans, at least not in Germany.
The squad will run four of the new Audi RS3 LMS’ alongside two Honda Civics in the six car line up. Tim Zimmermann, Tom Lautenschlager, Simon Larsson and lady racer Gosia Rdest will pilot the Audis with reigning ETCC champion Kris Richard partnering Jurgen Schmarl in the Hondas.
GermanFLAVOURS Racing will also be part of the Audi stable with Thomas Kramwinkel and a yet to be confirmed driver as is PROsport Performance with South African Sheldon van der Linde and Austrian Max Hofer.
Back with the Honda Civics are Honda ADAC Sachsen with Dominik Fugel and Steve Kirsch with Team Engstler again running Volkswagon Golfs, matching Target for six cars. Already confirmed in the team are team boss Franz Engstler’s sixteen year old son Luca, currently second in the TCR Middle East standings for the team, and Danish Poulsen brothers Kristian and Roland.
Sebastien Steibel will also campaign a Volkswagon Golf in his family run team, whereas Lubner Motorsport will be back with their two Opel Astras for Dino Calcum and Jasmin Preisig, the team also entering TCR Benelux.
Schlappi Race-Tec will make their debut in the series with Fabian Danz racing one of the two tried and tested SEAT Leons with the second seat yet to be filled, as Mike Halder has confirmed he will race in the series but team and car have not yet been stated.
So wherever you are in the world you just can’t escape TCR this year, so just sit back and enjoy.