TCR Series - Results of the first season

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E do you remember the beginnings of the DTM in the mid-80s -Years? When the 'M' still stood for championship and not for masters? The concept back then was affordable motorsport for everyone. The field was full of privateers. The fans were offered a wide variety of cars that were not undrivable immediately after every minor collision. But with the growing popularity, the manufacturers came, invested millions in the technology and in the end broke everything. Many fans can no longer do anything with the modern DTM. But now the touring car fever in Germany could be rekindled.

The racing car price is a maximum of 100,000 euros

Ex-WTCC boss Marcello Lotti has created a new racing series with the TCR stamped, which is well on the way to building on the success of the old DTM. Instead of manufacturers, only private teams compete against each other. The technology is simple and stable, and the operating costs are accordingly manageable. The TCR makers have set a maximum price of 80,000 to 100,000 euros for the racing cars. Not much more has to be reckoned for each season.

On the other hand, those who want to play in the World Touring Car Championship can quickly reach a budget in the millions per vehicle. The WTCC cars are not much faster despite the use of expensive carbon parts - and thanks to the bulging Citroën domination, they are certainly not more exciting.

TCR series with growing popularity

With the race the TCR International series celebrated its premiere in Malaysia at the end of March 2015. It wasn't exactly the picture-book start that was hoped for: The field consisted of only 15 cars. And it could have been even less. The Engstler Motorsport team was only allowed to compete with two Audi TT Cup racers, which were actually not covered by the regulations because of their coupé shape, thanks to a special permit. The special regulation expired after four races and Bayern had to take a break. The new VW Golf TCR was only ready after the half-time of the season in Spielberg.

'We deliberately kept the field a bit smaller at the beginning so that it doesn't look like a Seat Leon one-make cup,' Lotti defends the tactic . Postponing the start of the season was never an issue: 'If we had told the manufacturers that it wouldn't start until 2016, we would have had the same problems a year later. So it was better to start right away.'

The plan worked. Reported during the yearother manufacturers interested in. After Seat, Ford, Honda and VW, Subaru and Opel have now also presented their own TCR vehicles. Then came Alfa Romeo. The competition in the WTCC or DTM can currently only dream of that. And even more should follow in 2016, Marcello Lotti promises.

No competition to the WTCC

Even with a few cars in the first races, it quickly became apparent that the series was working well. Although the really big names are still missing in the cockpits, the drivers delivered thrilling racing. 'For me, the level of driving is at a high level and has developed better and better throughout the year,' praised Franz Engstler, who at the age of 54 dared to make a fresh start in the TCR. 'If we get people with names from touring car racing like Menu, Huff or Coronel, that fits really well.'

Despite the similarity of the cars and the battle for driver and manufacturer, TCR Boss Lotti sees his new one Series does not compete with the WTCC. Small swipes here and there show, however, that this is not exactly a peaceful coexistence. The season finale took place on the legendary street circuit in Macau. The WTCC used to do its last laps of the year here. Thanks to the good friendship with Bernie Ecclestone, the TCR also drove in the Formula 1 program on GP circuits such as Shanghai and Singapore.

First year with only minor incidents

A balance of Performance system (BOP) ensures a balanced field and hot action on the racetrack. The adjusting screws are the air flow limiter, additional weights and the vehicle height. 'The BOP worked very well. Already in the second race eight to ten cars were within only one second,' recalls Engstler. 'I am sure that those responsible will also get a grip on the new manufacturers.'

Of course, not everything went perfectly in the first year. For example, the brand new Subaru Impreza was 'forgotten' at the airport in Luxembourg before its debut in Singapore. The TCR cargo plane was already packed with other cargo that apparently had a higher priority. The race car was simply left there.

Instead of training, the Italian top run team simply completed the shakedown in qualifying. Apart from such minor incidents, everything went surprisingly smoothly. 'The lead time I initially feared to bring a new racing series to life has not been confirmed,' said driver and team boss Engstler, praising the TCR organization.

National series planned for 2016

The man from Allgäu is so convinced of the new TCR concept that he wants to launch a German offshoot in 2016 together with the ADAC. The national series will start as part of the ADAC GT Masters. Individual races will even be broadcast live on free TV. 'We are planning realistically for our starting yearwith around twelve teams and around 20 cars, 'reveals Franz Engstler.

There seems to be a great deal of interest from privateers in the TCR. 500 guests came to the open house in Mettet, Belgium at the beginning of October.' It is not the problem of finding drivers or teams, but of getting enough racing cars in good time, 'says Engstler. Manufacturers such as Volkswagen or Opel are currently still in the development phase. At the wheel, young talents should primarily get a chance.' The promotion of young talent is far too formal . The touring car sport is treated too neglected, something has to happen ', complains the veteran of the scene.

In addition to the TCR Germany, private teams can also use their cars as part of the VLN and the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring in one The long-distance distance is not a problem for the racing cars: the robust, around 330 hp two-liter turbo engines should easily last a whole season.

Organizers with a lot of freedom

Lotti promises that the once homologated cars can compete in the various series for at least three to five years. His network of regional and international championships should then span the entire globe. Lotti leaves the organizers a free hand with regard to the sporting regulations. 'If a national The organizer thinks that the spectators want to see longer race distances, that's no problem at all. We're not getting involved.

The promoters also have a free hand when it comes to marketing. 'There is only one point where the boss has no mercy:' The technical regulations are laid down and must be identical everywhere. ' ensure that the cars can be used in a variety of ways without any modifications.

Being close to the fans is the key

With his experience from his first season in the international TCR, Engstler sees himself not only as a team boss in the future , but also as an interface between the ADAC and the other teams. He promises to bring motorsport very close to the fans again with the TCR Germany.

The new championship cannot be compared with the works sport in the DTM 'emphasizes the Kämpe.' We offer popular sport with interesting and extremely strong duels. A variety with vehicles to which the fan has a personal relationship. The viewer has to get in contact with the brand, the team and the driver again and be able to live out their emotions. With the GT Masters, Formula 4, TCR touring cars and an attractive supporting program, the ADAC is offering spectators a really extensive and high-quality racing weekend in 2016. The fan really gets something for his money. '

Interview with TCR boss Lotti

' We don't see our series as WTCC competition '

How well did the first TCR year go?

Lotti: It was exhausting, but we aresatisfied. There were some construction sites at the beginning. In the end, however, the manufacturers' response was very positive. Many are now considering developing cars according to the TCR regulations. Many organizers have also contacted us who are interested in starting TCR series on a national level.

There was a shortage of cars at the start of the season. Wasn't the start a little early?

Lotti: We must have had a few problems. But if you don't start at some point, it never starts. If we had told the manufacturers that the TCR series would not start until 2016, we would have had the same problems a year later. So it was better to get started right away.

How many cars are planned for the second year?

Lotti: You have to be realistic. At the moment we are conservatively anticipating a number of 24 cars from seven different brands.

Will the series also attract more prominent drivers?

Lotti: I don't see the participation of stars as that important. When you start a new series, the first thing you have to do is to establish solid technical regulations. Above all, we had to ensure that our goals on the cost side were met. If the championship continues to grow, we might one day produce the stars ourselves. A well-known driver from outside would perhaps provide a brief flash in the pan - but not permanent media attention.

Which manufacturers are currently still interested in joining the TCR?

Lotti: We already have so many that we'd need a podium with five places to make everyone happy. Joking aside: there are currently eight specific projects with Alfa Romeo. In addition, two or three brands show interest. But I won't be able to say more about it until spring 2016.

The TCR fought with the WTCC about the race in Macau this year? Are the series now competing with each other?

Lotti: No, it wasn't like that. We waited until the space was free. Only then did we start negotiations. We generally don't see ourselves as WTCC competitors. These are two different beasts. The WTCC is a world championship that is controlled by the FIA. It is technically at a higher level and therefore also produces higher costs. We only look at ourselves. If you look too much left and right, it's easy to miss the tree in front of you.

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