By Mick Palmer
Essex and Kent Motorsport racer Bradley Kent will return for a third season in the growing TCR UK championship in 2023. The former VW Cup and MX5 Super Series race winner bagged three victories when he made his debut in the class during the 2021 season. The Hyundai racer confirmed at Autosport International that he would be switching from the i30 that he campaigned last season to the Veloster N TCR that two-time champ and elder brother Lewis raced in 2022.
The 2022 season didn’t run to plan for Bradley as he pointed out at the event in Birmingham. ”It was more than disappointing,” he said of the tough campaign. “You can’t win a championship if you DNF nine times in 15 races, so reliability will be key this year, and I think that will come now that we’re concentrating on a single car entry.”
Lewis Kent confirmed that he will step back from racing in the series in 2023 and that he will be on the pitwall overlooking operations with the outfit. After running the pair in the Veloster and an i30, along with Scott Sumpton (who is moving to Restart Racing this year) in another i30 for Essex and Kent, Lewis admitted that it had diluted the efforts of the squad.
“It put a bit of a strain on all of us last year,” Lewis said of the expanded team. “This year we can fully concentrate on Brad – and we can fully put all the money into the one car and get a data engineer in so we’re not guessing at the setup of the car.”
Some of the lessons learned in 2022 will be valuable. With a season of information on the books the baseline of the Veloster on British circuits is ready to be built upon, but Brad did point out one area where there will be some adjustments. “The data does carry over but our driving styles are different,” he explained. “Where Lewis can be very aggressive, I’m a lot more smooth in how I attack the circuit, so it will be different.”
Until this year Lewis was one of only two drivers (along with DW racing driver Darelle Wilson) to have been ever present since the introduction of TCR racing in the UK in 2018, and he is perfectly placed to understand what it takes to take the crown – having claimed the TCR UK part of the Touring Car Trophy in both 2020 and 2021 – along with being the driver with the most wins in the history of the series. Of the expectation placed on his sibling he said: “Hopefully this year we can pull it out of the bag and Brad can win the championship, and then we can be three-time TCR UK champions.”
Brad himself remains calmly confident with his chances and stated that: “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could win. We have a car that can do it, I’ve had two years in TCR UK and I’m motivated.”