Following a successful visit to Castle Combe in 2021, TCR UK organisers had no hesitation in taking the championship back to the Wiltshire circuit this year for rounds 10 and 11 from a calendar of 15, at Saturday’s (6th August) meeting entitled ‘Combe Carnival’.
Whilst many of the teams took part in a pre-event test on Thursday, the legendary 1.85-mile circuit is renowned for rewarding those who are familiar with its fast sections and deceptive bends that have a reputation for their unforgiving nature.
With this year’s nine previous rounds revealing seven different winners – Max Hart (JamSport Racing Hyundai i30N) and Alex Ley (Daniel James Motorsport Hyundai i30N) the only drivers to have scored two wins – the race for the title is wide open.
However, such is the strength of the competition, it’s none of the above who currently top the driver’s standings. Instead, it’s Isaac Smith’s (Race Car Consultants VW Golf GTi) consistency that has paid off, his five visits to the podium and 100% finishing record providing him with a 42-point advantage going into this weekend.
Hart’s two-second places at the start of the year at Oulton Park, followed by his pair of wins at Donington in May, saw the young Irishman take an early lead, but two DNFs, when the championship returned to Oulton Park in July, cancelled out his early advantage. Consequently, he’s a self-confessed man-on-a-mission this weekend, as he attempts to regain lost ground.
Hart stands just one point ahead of round one winner and former BTCC front-runner Chris Smiley (Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7), whose two fourth places last time out at Oulton Park puts him back on track for a title challenge.
Five points behind and eager to replicate his round five victory at Brands Hatch is Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai Veloster), the 2020 and 2021 TCR UK Champion now getting to grips with his new-for-this-season car and will be looking to secure his place in the line-up of 2022 title aspirants this weekend.
Another driver gaining pace as the season progresses is fifth-placed Adam Shepherd (Area Motorsport with Shepherd Motors Hyundai i30N) and whilst the two-times podium finisher is a Castle Combe debutant, his recent form is expected to hold him in good stead.
In sixth place and only two points behind Shepherd is 17-year-old Ley, the youngest ever TCR winner recording back-to-back victories in round seven at Brands Hatch and then round eight at Oulton Park.
Other winners this season are seventh-placed Jamie Tonks (Area Motorsport/FastR CUPRA), who claimed his first ever TCR victory following a storming drive in the most recent round of the championship at Oulton Park; Jac Constable (Power Maxed Racing CUPRA), who staked his claim on the top step of the podium in round six at Brands Hatch and Jess Hawkins (Area Motorsport/FastR CUPRA), who took an impressive lights-to-flag victory in round two at Oulton Park and in doing so, became the first-ever woman to win a TCR race in the UK.
Other silverware up for grabs this weekend is the Goodyear Diamond Trophy, an award presented to drivers over 40 years old and the Tom Walker Memorial Trophy for rookie drivers and those who had not visited the podium in previous seasons.
Andy Wilmot (JamSport Racing Hyundai i30N) and Isaac Smith are currently leading the two categories respectively.
The TCR UK action gets underway on Saturday with a 15-minute Free Practice session at 08.30 followed by a 30-minute Qualifying session at 09.50. Following a lunchtime public grid walk, the first of the two 25-minute races get the green light at 13.00, followed by the second at 16.10. Qualifying and both races can be watched live on the following platforms:
TCR UK is supported by Goodyear, Maximum Networks, Liqui Moly, Corbeau, MaxiCloud Hosted Telephony, Co-ordSport, Berkshire Turbo, Joyce Design, Shepherd Compello Motorsport Insurance, Woya SEO and Sunoco. The Championship is administered by Club Time Attack.