The TCR UK Touring Car Championship heads to Brands Hatch this weekend (21-22 October) for its championship showdown, with six drivers still in contention for the title and just two races remaining.
The circuit’s Indy layout, set in a natural amphitheatre, will provide the perfect location for a thrilling title decider contested by another busy field of manufacturer-built touring cars.
Heading into the weekend, Carl Boardley holds a healthy advantage at the top of the table. Driving his smart CUPRA Leon Competición run by CBM with Hart GT, Boardley hit a mid-season purple patch that took him to four race wins and made Boardley the man to beat.
Boardley is one of only two contenders carrying no compensation weight this weekend, which could be a factor on the hilly circuit.
A fantastic showing at Donington Park last time out, where he came close to a maximum score, has elevated Adam Shepherd to second in the table. The Area Motorsport driver took his Hyundai i30 N to a win and second place and now lies 47 points behind Boardley with 88 up for grabs.
Shepherd’s team-mates Bruce Winfield and Alex Ley are also both still in the hunt. Each has two wins to their name this season but have had up-and-down fortunes over the past few races.
Winfield (third in the points, 56 behind Boardley) will, like Shepherd, be saddled with 30kg of compensation weight this weekend but don’t write off the one-time Civic Cup champion who knows how to deliver big results.
Ley, sixth in the standings, is a real outsider given his 73-point deficit to Boardley. His Achilles heel has been on new-tyre runs in qualifying but that at least means he is free of compensation weight this weekend.
Ley was a winner at Brands last year, stunning onlookers with a victory on only his second appearance in the championship, so the Hyundai Customer Racing Junior Driver will be full of confidence heading to his local circuit.
Currently fourth in the championship is Ley’s fellow teenage young gun, Jenson Brickley. The East Midlander, driving his own Jenson Brickley Racing CUPRA, has been a revelation in his TCR UK debut season. Five podium finishes (including one win) have been backed up by consistent results, his only non-finish coming in race two at Donington last month.
Brickley carries the maximum 40kg of compensation weight this weekend but he knows the quick way round Brands, having secured pole position on his slick-tyres debut in the feeder Fiesta Championship last year.
Completing the Super Six is Rob Boston Racing’s Jac Constable. Fifth in the standings, 71 points down on Boardley, Constable is another outside bet for championship glory but will be gunning for race wins in his Audi RS3 LMS Gen II.
The Audi has been consistently strong, something Constable and team-mate Joe Marshall – still seeking his first win in TCR UK – will be looking to take advantage of.
Brad Hutchison should be back at the wheel of his Gen I Audi this weekend, having shone in borrowed Gen II machinery last time out. The Bond It with MPHR driver came agonisingly close to a maiden victory when denied by the ride height test at Donington. While frustrating, Hutchison’s performance was a confidence booster which he will look to build on at Brands Hatch.
For outgoing champion Chris Smiley and his Restart Racing team, 2023 has largely been a year to forget. Developing the new Honda Civic Type R FL5 through the season has been tough. There were some positive steps at Donington despite Smiley being another to lose a podium by falling foul of the scrutineer’s ride height roller.
Team-mate Scott Sumpton, piloting the older FK7 model, has been on an upward curve all year, recording his best finish of fifth last time out.
Others to look out for this weekend include Callum Newsham in the JH Racing Hyundai. A contender for this season’s unluckiest driver, Newsham has yet to record a podium finish in 2023 despite his strong pace.
Matthew Wilson, a podium finisher at Silverstone in the summer, will lead JWB Motorsport’s charge in his CUPRA Leon. Alongside him this weekend, there is a return for George Jaxon who makes his first appearance since the Snetterton season-opener, this time in the ex-Darron Lewis Gen I Audi.
Andy Wilmot is back for the season finale, driving with a tribute livery on the CUPRA Leon Competición for his late friend and colleague, Dan Kirby, who passed away recently. As with his appearance at Silverstone, Rob Boston Racing will once again be running the CUPRA.
With this being the final race weekend of the 2023 season, the likes of Darelle Wilson (DW Racing Vauxhall Astra), Jeff Alden (DW Racing with Matrix Motorsport Opel Astra), Luke Sargeant (Area Motorsport Hyundai Elantra), Mark Smith (Richmond Fire Motorsport CUPRA), Oliver Cottam (Paul Sheard Racing Audi RS3) and Rick Kerry (Team AFM Racing CUPRA) will be out to make sure that they end the season on a high note.
Alongside the main championship chase, two more titles will be settled this weekend. The Tom Walker Memorial Trophy, for rookies and those without podium finishes in previous years, is also led by Carl Boardley, with Jenson Brickley and Joe Marshall hunting him down.
Boardley will be eyeing a hat-trick of major trophies as he also leads the Goodyear Diamond Award for drivers aged over 40.
In a busy weekend at Brands Hatch, also featuring the Formula Ford Festival, TCR UK’s first track action is a free practice session at 0925hrs on Saturday morning. Qualifying then takes place that afternoon, at 1500hrs. Both races are on Sunday, with the first scheduled to start at 1220hrs. Lights out on the season finale will be at 1505hrs.
Qualifying and both races will be streamed live and can be accessed via TCR UK’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/@tcrukseries
To find out more about the TCR UK Touring Car Championship visit https://www.tcr-uk.co.uk/ for more info and how to get involved.