Rounds 8 & 9 – PREVIEW
Oulton Park Island – 16th July 2022
Saturday sees the TCR UK Championship make its second visit of the year to Oulton Park, for rounds eight and nine of the 15-round calendar.
On this occasion, competitors will tackle the 2.26-mile Island configuration of the circuit, whilst previously it was the 2.69-mile International version that hosted rounds one and two of this burgeoning national championship for global-platform touring cars.
The inaugural visit to the historic Cheshire venue took place over the Easter weekend in April, alongside the British GT Championship. Chris Smiley was the first driver of the year to claim honours, when he took his Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7 from pole position to victory in round one, transferring his BTCC winning ways seamlessly to the TCR UK grid.
History was made later that day when Jessica Hawkins became the first British woman to claim overall victory in a touring car race, the Area Motorsport by FastR driver taking her CUPRA from second on the grid to win round two ahead of a 24-car field. But it was young Irishman Max Hart who came away leading the championship, his two-second places providing him with an early points advantage.
Next up was Donington Park and rounds three and four at the end of May when again, the two TCR UK races formed part of the British GT meeting. In both, it was Hart who delivered, taking his JamSport Racing Hyundai i30N to a commanding victory, setting the fastest lap – twice – and thereby increasing his hold on the championship standings.
The third outing of the year saw the championship switch to the first of the Time Attack (TCR UK’s host Club) administered events and a visit to Brands Hatch for the season’s only triple-header weekend.
Utilising the relatively short and therefore action-generating 1.208-mile Indy version of the track, it was a case of history in the making once again, when Essex & Kent Motorsport’s Lewis Kent recorded his first win of the season in round five – TCR UK’s 50th ever race – and in doing so, the 2020 and 2021 TCR UK champion provided the Hyundai Veloster TCR with its debut victory in Britain.
In round six, a frantic 25-minutes saw an intense battle at the front of the field that was initially headed by Ant-Whorton Eales in the JamSport Racing Subaru Impreza. However, it was a charging Jac Constable in his Power Maxed Racing CUPRA who eventually crossed the line first. A third action-packed 25 minutes at Brands Hatch witnessed another TCR UK first when 17-year-old Alex Ley became the championship’s youngest ever race winner.
With scores totted up as the season reaches its halfway point, Hart still holds the championship lead, 21 points ahead of the consistently quick and three-times podium visitor Isaac Smith in his Race Car Consultants VW Golf. Lewis Kent’s Brands Hatch performance reignited his bid for a third title and puts him up to third, seven points behind, with Smiley 29 points further back in fourth.
Setting aside the points standings, there was perhaps an even more significant outcome from Brands Hatch, with each of the three races seeing a number of new names running at the front of the field. All of which means that as teams prepare for rounds eight and nine at Oulton Park, predicting a winner has become an even more difficult task.
In the battle for drivers who have yet to set foot on the podium or are new to the championship this season, Isaac Smith’s top scores at Donington and Brands Hatch see him head the table for the Tom Walker Memorial Trophy, with Chris Smiley second and Brad Hutchinson in his Bond-It with MPH Racing Audi RS3 LMS in third.
In the Goodyear Diamond Trophy for competitors aged 40 and over, Power Maxed Racing CUPRA TCR driver Russell Joyce currently tops the tables, with Andy Wilmot in his Jamsport Racing Hyundai i30N second, followed by Neil Trotter in the Chameleon Motorsport-run CUPRA.
The TCR UK action gets underway at Oulton Park with a 30-minute Qualifying session starting at 11.10, followed by the first 25-minute race at 13.55 and the second at 16.50. All three instalments 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, Sunoco UK and Woya Digital. The Championship is administered by Club Time Attack.