By Mick Palmer
In the first part of the TCR UK primer we looked t how the championship works, here were going to look at the cars, and a few of the rules/restrictions related to that area of the championship. And boy, are there some outstanding cars in the series this year.
At the time of writing there are 10 models of car in the field, with the possibility of more landing on the grid during the year with a further 17 models currently homologated (more if you include those that have DSG or Sequential options.) Audi has two model year variants of the RS3 LMS in the mix. Hyundai has three different cars with the i30N, Veloster and Elantra entered. Cupra has the Grandaddy machine of TCR with the original León still in service, as well as the new León Competición. Vauxhall once again has the Astra on hand. The Honda Civic Type R has two of the three eligible incarnations involved with the recently superseded FK8, and – making an international debut – the new for 2023 FL5. There are examples of cars from Subaru, Renault and Peugeot connected with possible entries, but we’ll have to wait and see about those.
CARS AND COSTS
If we’re completely honest here, a fair few cars on the grid are ‘pre-loved.’ That is what has made the expansion of TCR UK viable at this juncture, with a plethora of quality used machines taking to the tarmac for 2023, but there are a number of factory fresh brand new cars taking a shot at the crown this season. Alongside the FL5 Honda there are unused Cupra and Audi examples entered into the series. Even then however a top end of €148,000 is price capped on cars taken race ready from the factory
There are restrictions on engines, components and tyres, with a control fuel used – all to keep costs in check, and to attempt to level the playing field. Each driver is entitled to one engine for the season. A change is hit with a penalty (back of the grid for each new unit.) The only exception being if a driver is forced to race another marque. A switch of teams, but not car should see a driver carry over their powerplant – but realistically the ownership structures surrounding cars owned by drivers or teams makes that highly unlikely. Four turbos can be used throughout the season
Our TCR UK season magazine was released last week, and while the print version has sold out you can download the PDF version for £1.20 which features an 18 page season preview featuring the drivers, and the cars – because for 2023 the influx of new machines is a BIG story!
You can get that (featuring a ton of other Touring Car coverage here:
The Goodyear slick used in the series (265/660R18 GY SLICK TC 02B3) is related to the Goodyear tyres provided to the BTCC, but have a longer life usage. If you or I were to buy one from the manufacturer it would set us back over £300 per corner. A limit of 50 slicks across the season is the maximum allowed (to put in perspective, a BTCC car goes through 120 of those on a race days alone through the season) so it isn’t a cheap endeavour. At the first round a minimum of six and a maximum of 10 are allocated to be used (assuming it’s dry running all the way through.) From then on it’s a limit of six new and four used per event. There is only one compound. There are no intermediates and wets are unlimited in number that can be used.
WEIGHT AND BALANCE OF PERFORMANCE
The target racing weight for cars using a racing gearbox is 1,265 kg, with mass production boxes allowing 35kg to be knocked from that. The regulations also state that: ‘The minimum front axle load proportion is 59%,’ which gives you an understanding of why these cars handle the way that they do. The driver is included in there with a pre-season and halfway weighing part of the regulations. On that drivers have to be able to get out of the driver side in seven seconds, and the passenger side in nine. A fat geezer like me would struggle with that – as proved by the passenger lap I had at Donington – find out more and watch/mock here:
Balance of Performance is not a popular subject among racing drivers and teams. The two championship contenders last year were the only drivers to run their respective machines, meaning that on top of the international BoP the compensation weight affected themselves only when they were successful. Drivers of the other front running machines complained that their cars would be further affected if a rival in the same type of car had a good day, but it’s the way the cookie crumbles, and for fans it makes the racing across the season more balanced and fair. Naturally the season starts with everybody at 0. From Croft onwards the weight compensation runs from 40kgs down to 30kg, 20kg, 10 kg.
The international formula for TCR around the world is calculated by WSC as far as Balance of Performance goes. A maximum of 70kg can be added to the minimum weight for an individual model. An engine ECU can restrict power with levels from 1 to 6 (ranging from a restriction of only 90% of available engine power up to 92.5%, 95%, 97.5%, 100% and 102.5% options.) To further adjust different models boost pressure between those percentages can be altered too. Add to that a Minimum Ride Height set-up range of 80mm ±20mm.
For TCR UK in 2023 there are an incalculable number of variances with all of those options, success weights and car models, but one thing is certain, and that is that the racing through the field will be close.