Saturday, 7 March 2015

2015 TCR International Series Update No.3...

Its been a busy two weeks for the TCR International Series and the domestic TCR Series and for Craft-Bamboo Racing...

Here are the latest announcements...

The TCR Asia Series has unveiled an impressive five round calendar for its maiden season, with the opening event at Guangdong International Circuit on August 16.

“Our original plan was to start in May in Korea, however after taking into account the organisation and logistics aspects, we decided to postpone the first event,” explained David Sonenscher, CEO of WSC Asia, the series promoter.

“We had to be realistic and accept the fact that most of the cars may not be delivered in time for an earlier start. Our first round will now be alongside the China Touring Car Championship which will allow us to showcase the new category to one of the biggest markets in the world. Already we have significant interest in the series from some of Asia’s most competitive teams, many of whom are waiting for the delivery of cars,” Sonenscher added. 

After Guangdong, the 2015 TCR Asia Series will visit Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, while the venue for the final race meeting will be unveiled at a later date.

Sonenscher said: “For Singapore,our competitors will enter in the TCR International Series, while in Thailand they will have their own races. We are already looking forward to include Japan and Korea in the 2016 calendar.”

2015 TCR Asia Series – calendar
16 August, Guangdong International Circuit, China
6 September, Sepang iCircuit, Malaysia
20 September, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore
25 October, Buriram International Circuit, Thailand
22 November, TBA

Craft-Bamboo Racing announced a title partnership with LUKOIL, to compete in the 2015 TCR International Series.
Entering the maiden season of TCR International Season under the name Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL, the team presents itself as a competitive force with a trio of SEAT León cars. The strong driver line-up, which will be announced soon. This partnership is a demonstration of the team’s clear intention to challenge for both the team’s and driver’s championship titles.
Craft-Bamboo Racing has a successful Touring Car history dating back to 2009. In 2013 they claimed the independent title with a third place overall in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing declared: “I am thrilled to announce our three car entry into the TCR International series.  We are very excited to be working with LUKOIL because not only are they an excellent partner, but they also have a reputation for backing winners. The title is our aim but we know how difficult that will be with so many top teams and drivers.”

Marcello Lotti, CEO of WSC Ltd, added: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Craft-Bamboo Racing and LUKOIL. This will prove to be a powerful alliance between a team that has established itself as a winner in many different categories and one of the most dynamic oil companies on the global market. The fact that these two prestigious brands have decided to join the series in its maiden season, is a further evidence that the TCR concept is sound and well grounded.”

Westcoast Racing announced that American racer Kevin Gleason will form one third of its attack on the inaugural season of the TCR International Series.
Westcoast Racing was created in 1994 by Dick Jönsson-Wigroth and has gone on to establish itself as the world’s leading Swedish touring car team by accumulating several championship titles over the course of two decades in the highly esteemed Swedish Touring Car Championship.

Westcoast Racing will field a trio of Honda Civic cars built and developed to the new TCR technical regulations by JAS Motorsport.

With a background in US-based touring cars, Gleason has demonstrated skill and adaptability by seamlessly transitioning between different specifications of race cars and accumulating various high profile race victories along the way. His key achievements include a win in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge VIR 13 Hour and the 2014 ADAC Nürburgring 6 Hours.

“I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Westcoast Racing team for the inaugural TCR International Series season,”said Gleason. “The team is well proven and brings a vast array of experience that I’m sure will help see it quickly adapt to the new challenge it faces in 2015. Beyond the team itself, I expect the Honda Civic TCR to be a competitive package, especially with the support of JAS Motorsport and Mugen. I look forward to building these relationships into a successful campaign.”

Westcoast Racing Team Manager, James Nixon, said: “Westcoast Racing is delighted to welcome Kevin Gleason to the team. His pace and hunger to succeed is very apparent and that was a big appeal when we started our conversations. The TCR International Series is the ideal category to start a full season campaign and to perfect his racecraft on some of the best tracks in the world. I have no doubt Kevin will soon be a name we all know and remember in touring cars.”

Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL announced Sergey Afanasiev as one of the three drivers that will be contesting the new TCR International Series.
The 26 year old Russian began his career with LUKOIL in Formula Russia in 2003. His first season was a success, taking three wins and the title in his first year of professional racing.

Afanasiev progressed through various single-seater series, culminating with a third place in the 2010 FIA Formula Two Championship; the following year he finished third again in the AutoGP. In 2013 Afanasiev switched to the FIA GT1 World Championship and was crowned champion in the Pro-Am division.

Earlier this week Afanasiev has completed four successful days of testing at Valencia and Barcelona with the SEAT León Racer, which allowed him to familiarize with the car and adapt to front wheel drive.

Afanasiev said: “The TCR International Series is a new challenge for me and I'm looking forward to the season. We conducted several tests, in which I learned the car. The new SEAT León is very different from GT cars, but I did not have any problem adapting."

Evgeny Malinovskiy, Head of LUKOIL Racing, commented: “I am pleased to present our international project for 2015 with Craft-Bamboo Racing. We decided to combine the efforts of two successful teams to conquer another challenge. I believe that in our maiden season in the TCR International Series we will be able to fight for the championship. From my point of view, this series is one of the best championships for independent teams.”

Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing, commented: “I am delighted to welcome Sergey to the team, he is a true professional and has already been adapting well to front wheel drive racing. I am sure that he will achieve success this season, he has impressed in his attitude and shown very good pace in testing.”

Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil announced Pepe Oriola as the second of three drivers that will be contesting the 2015 TCR International Series.

The young Spaniard began his career in karting at the age of nine and moved up to Touring Cars when he was 15 to finish on the podium in the final round of the SEAT Leon Supercopa. In 2011 Oriola became the youngest ever driver in the FIA World Touring Car Championship at 16 years old and in the 2013 WTCC Race of Morocco he took his first win and became the youngest ever driver to win an FIA World Championship race.

“The feeling is very positive with Craft-Bamboo Racing and we have already begun working to prepare for the TCR International Series that will surely become a championship of reference. It has a very attractive calendar and several races will be shared with Formula 1, which is another attraction for this championship,”Oriola said.

Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing, commented: “I am so pleased to welcome Pepe Oriola to Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil, he is a proven race winner and despite his young age will not be a number two driver. He brings with him tremendous speed and experience in Touring Cars and I expect him tol be a championship contender. I think Craft-Bamboo Lukoil will give him the environment to take the step from a race winner to a champion.”

Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL announced Jordi Gené as the final driver in the trio that will contest the TCR International Series.

A factory development driver for SEAT since 2005, Gené was instrumental to the development of the SEAT León Racer. The Spaniard has been focusing on testing and development during his role in the past few seasons. His professional input has helped SEAT to prepare the car for its upcoming series debut. Gené’s distinguished career in motorsport contains multiple championship wins spanning numerous racing disciplines, including the FIA World Touring Car Championship, in which he won four races and helped SEAT win the manufacturers titles in 2008 and 2009.

Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing, stated: “It is great to welcome our third driver, Jordi Gené. He is a proven race winner and brings with him vast amounts of knowledge as a factory development driver for SEAT. I have high expectations for results with the quality of drivers and years of collective racing experience they possess, and will be looking forward to a very exciting season.”

Gené said: “I am really looking forward to this new project, and I'm also very motivated to participate in the TCR International Series with the SEAT León Racer, especially after having collaborated with SEAT Sport in its development. I know the car very well and I've done some testing during the pre-season, which I also have combined with karting to make sure my reactions and skills are up to the challenge.”

At Craft-Bamboo Lukoil, Gené joins his fellow countryman Pepe Oriola and Russian racer Sergey Afanasyev.

Finally, WSC Ltd, the promoter of the TCR International Series, appointed Touring Car legend Nicola Larini as the driver in charge for the forthcoming Balance of Performance test.
The Italian ace will take the wheel of the various eligible cars on Monday and Tuesday next week at Barcelona’s Catalunya Circuit.

A former Formula 1 driver and tester, with 49 Grands Prix under his belt, including one second place at Imola for Ferrari, Larini established himself as one of the most successful Touring Car drivers in the latest twenty years. At the wheel of Alfa Romeo factory cars he was crowned Italian Supertouring champion in 1992, won the 1993 DTM, finished second in the FIA World Touring Car Challenge at Monza in the same year and claimed eight race victories in the FIA European Touring Car Championship between 2001 and 2003. From 2005 to 2009 he raced for Chevrolet in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, in which he was classified fifth in 2007.

“I have accepted with pleasure to run this test; it is going to be an interesting experience and I trust I will be able to deliver a clear and detailed feedback that help to balance the performance of the different cars. I have gained enough experience in Touring Car racing and with the turbo engine to duly accomplish this task,”declared Larini.

Marcello Lotti, CEO of WSC, said: “Having a very experienced driver like Larini is the best guarantee of success for the test. From his undisputed driving skill and technical knowledge, Nicola is the right person to help our technical department to fix Balance of Performance among the different cars. We are very grateful to him for having accepted our invitation.”

The Balance of Performance will be based on three different parameters: the minimum weight of the car (+/- 70kg), its ride height (-10/+20mm over 80mm) and the air restrictor (95/90% of nominal diameter).

All the best!


2015: A Big Year for Rallycross...

Rallycross is big news right now in the Motorsport World...

And 2015 is an important year.

Let me explain why...

In 2013, the running of the FIA European Rallycross Championship was taken over by IMG Motorsport and they relaunched the brand as "RallycrossRX" Several big name drivers joined the series in the form of Petter Solberg and Tanner Foust, going up against regulars such as Liam Doran and Timur Timerzyanov whilst being joined by newcomers like Timmy Hansen and Anton Marklund.

The series proved so popular that the FIA took the step to create the first ever World Rallycross Championship or WorldRX for 2014. In came factory supported efforts from Peugeot-Hansen, Ford OMSE and VW-Marklund whilst names such as Jacques Villeneuve, Toomas "Topi" Heikkinen and Manfred Stohl raced in Supercar machinery taking on the best. With added live TV & Internet coverage, the series boomed with many European rounds seeing over 40 Supercar entries and Petter Solberg crowned as the first ever World Rallycross Champion.

So, why is 2015 so important?

Well, the fact that the RallycrossRX regulations have been left largely unchanged means that there are plenty of Supercars out there to use and race that are eligible in Domestic, European & World Championships. Factor in the point that its relatively easy to transport a Supercar to any of the EuroRX events and that alone allows domestic series competitors to take on the best from WorldRX and even have a chance at winning the EuroRX Title. All this means that you can expect large numbers of entrants and big crowds at Rallycross events.

The hugely positive effect that the expansion of WorldRX has had on Rallycross has begun to spread. In 2014, The 5 round FIA European Rallycross Championship saw large entries in the Supercar, Touring Car, Super1600 and RX Lites catergories. This prompted a rethink for the Support Catergories that resulted in a revised calendar in 2015 that now allows drivers from the various different European Domestic series to compete on home turf and compete in Europe as well at little more cost.

This has led to 3 British drivers confirming their intention to contest the Euro Super 1600 catergory in Citroen C2's this year.

But theres also growth to be seen in the British Championship. In 2014 Julian Godfrey secured his 4th British Rallycross Championship title. However there were plenty of regular drivers chasing him for that title in Supercars, such as Steve Hill, Simon Horton, Steve Harris, Kevin Proctor and Colin Anson. Godfrey enjoyed a good early season run that helped him build up a cushion of points, but the racing remained close and fast between all of the competitors.

British Rallycross veterans Mark Flaherty and Ollie O'Donovan both returned to the series. O'Donovan piloted a Mk 2 Ford Focus from midway in the season and took three event wins. Had he contested a full season, Godfrey would have been pushed hard. Flaherty, a veteran from over 20 years ago made sporadic appearences in a LD Motorsports Citroen DS3 during a fact finding return to the series.

This has led to early confirmations of programmes for BritishRX. O'Donovan has confirmed he will run a full programme in British RX and EuroRX in a new Mk7 Ford Fiesta Supercar run by RX Racing Ltd with further appearences in other WorldRX rounds possible. Andy Scott, whose Albatec Racing team contested all WorldRX 12 rounds last year has confirmed a two car assault on BritishRX for 2015 with further plans for EuroRX & WorldRX to be announced.

Add in confirmation of renewed series Title Sponsorship from The Shannon Group, a revised calendar and a revised TV & Online package that will hopefully be confirmed and this could see BritishRX on the road to becoming a domestic series that is capable of rivalling both the BTCC and British GT Championships, the UK's two biggest domestic Championships.

But both EuroRX & WorldRX continue to grow in 2015 as well. Tommy Rustad confirmed over the winter he will race a VW-Marklund Motorsport Mk5 Polo Supercar in EuroRX. Per Eklund announced his intention to run a VW Beetle in EuroRX as well, returning an inconic name to Rallycross.

2014 French Rallycross Supercar Champion Fabien Pailler has confirmed he will contest EuroRX 2015 in a Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar, a similar machine to the Albatec Racing and Hansen-Peugeots campaigned this year in WorldRX. 2014 EuroRX Champion Robin Larsson is looking to expand to a WorldRX campaign, whilst VW driver Johan Kristoffersson and KMS Motorsport are looking to a larger Rallycross programme in 2015.

WorldRX has seen 2 brand new teams confirm their full season campaigns for 2015. WRC driver Manfred Stohl and Austrian Rallycross driver Max Pucher announced the formation of WorldRX Team Austria, running two Mk7 Ford Fiesta Supercars built by Stohl Racing. Munnich Motorsport confirmed they are running two Audi S3 Supercars with Team Owner/driver Rene Munnich driving one of the cars in a full campaign. Swedish Rallycross racer Ramona Karlsson has announced an original route to competing this year, setting up a Crowdfunding scheme to allow her to run the first ever Female Supercar Rallycross team in EuroRX

With the confirmation on New Years Eve by 2014 WorldRX Champion Petter Solberg to defend his title and the return of Mattias Ekstrom's EKSRX Team, who have signed Anton Marklund to be his team-mate, VW-Marklund signing Per-Gunnar Andersson... All this already and theres still more to come from big hitters such as Peugeot-Hansen, Ford OMSE, LD Motorsports and others as well.

Add in new venues in Barcelona, Spain and the Double-Header with the DTM at Hockenheim for this year and the chances of the show getting bigger and better are 100%!

Recently Tino Anayi, WorldRX Managing Director for IMG Motorsport confirmed the increase in Social Media alone last year was huge. The Championship witnessed huge growth via its social platforms with Facebook likes showing a percentage increase of 348% over a 12 month period. Twitter saw a 202% increase in followers, while Instagram proved to be the biggest growth platform with a 900% rise.  Overall, the average reach across all social media platforms per event rose from 430,000 in 2013 to 6.7 million in 2014.

Thats huge interest on a Global scale.

In the US, the Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship saw an increased entry last year with Manufacturers such as Ford, Subaru, Hyundai, Chevrolet and Volkswagen represented. Former F1 driver Nelson Piquet Junior joined SH Motorsport whilst Ford OMSE fielded Joni Wiman & Patrick Sandell. Gymkhana star Ken Block competed in his Hoonigans Division Ford Fiesta with limited appearances in EuroRX.

Andretti Autosport joined the series with support from Volkswagen. Scott Speed & Tanner Foust drove for the team, starting out in works Volkswagen Polo Supercars before switching to GRC Beetles. The Team has confirmed both drivers will return in Beetles this year. Subaru Rally Team USA have also confirmed they will be back with two cars for regulars Sverre Isachsen and Bucky Lasek and a limited programme for Travis Pastrana. The Championship itself has confirmed a larger 12 round Calendar for 2015 as well.

In a time where Motorsport fans are looking for a bigger and better spectacle than the current pinnacle of Motorsport, Formula One, Rallycross is stepping up to meet that need. The Supercars alone are machines to behold themselves: Flame Spitting Monsters, producing over 600bhp from 2 litre Turbocharged engines, using 4 Wheel Drive to slide and drift on various surfaces such as Dirt, Tarmac and gravel. These guys are sliding sideways in cars that can accelerate faster than an F1 car.

Now dont get me wrong. I love Motorsport as my regulars know. I watch F1, Touring Cars and Rallycross and I enjoy them all. To all the people I talk to who say Motorsport is boring, I recommend Rallycross as its a new, exciting sport again. It has a very large coverage base utilising the Internet and Social Media very well and in 2015, its prescence can and will only grow.

I'm looking forward to the 2015 Rallycross seasons in:

The FIA World Rallycross Championship
The FIA European Rallycross Championship
The Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship &
The MSA British Rallycross Championship

I hope you'll join me in what is looking to be a stellar year for Rallycross in general.

One final thing to add. If your reading this and you love talking about Rallycross or your a fan of all things Rallycross and you are on Facebook, type in "Rallycross Talk" into the search bar. Its a group dedicated to all things Rallycross and we chat about everything there.

Heres The link:

All the best!