After a six-week break, the TCR UK Touring Car Championship returns with a visit to Knockhill in Scotland this weekend (22-23 July). The quality-packed entry will get to enjoy an extra race at this triple-header event as the 2023 season reaches its halfway stage with Rounds 7, 8 and 9 of the championship.
This is the first time that TCR UK has been to Knockhill since the inaugural season in 2018. Back then, Dan Lloyd continued his fine start to the campaign with a double victory on the reversed layout of the challenging Fife circuit. This weekend’s racing will be in the conventional direction so, whoever adapts quickest to the 1.3-mile circuit’s crests, kerbs and tricky braking zones could be in for a profitable weekend.
Bruce Winfield heads into the event at the top of the TCR UK Driver Standings. The Area Motorsport driver extended his advantage to 29 points (with a race win worth 40 points) by taking his Hyundai i30 N to a second win of the season at Oulton Park last month.
Winfield’s teammates at Area Motorsport, who themselves lead the teams’ championship, are Adam Shepherd (third) and Hyundai Customer Racing Junior Driver Alex Ley (seventh). Neither has won yet this season but they have three podium finishes between them. The flip side of the trio’s pace at Oulton Park means that they are saddled with additional compensation weight; Winfield and Ley carry the maximum 40kg after locking out the front row in Cheshire, while Shepherd has 20kg.
Carl Boardley is currently Winfield’s closest challenger in the points standings. Running his own CUPRA Leon Competición in conjunction with Hart GT, Boardley took his first TCR UK win in the second race at Oulton Park, having previously been denied by track-limits penalties. The man who probably has more experience of Knockhill than any other driver in the field found his ultimate pace was blunted by compensation weight, so he should enjoy being ballast-free this weekend.
Teenager Jenson Brickley comes to Scotland lying fourth in the points with one win to his name. The Midlander’s CUPRA, run by his family team under the guidance of vastly experienced engineer Mark Hunt, also runs at its base weight. That should allow Brickley to continue his consistent form, having never finished outside the top eight in the opening six rounds of the championship.
Rob Boston Racing’s Jac Constable and Joe Marshall, currently joint fifth in the championship, have been better able to show the true pace of their Audi RS3 LMS Gen II cars at the past two events after a challenging opening weekend at Snetterton. Constable was second in Oulton Park’s opener, having won the corresponding race at Croft. Marshall secured a maiden podium in North Yorkshire but didn’t score as strongly on home ground in Cheshire after race-two contact.
Also Audi-mounted, but in his case with the older model, is Bond It with MPHR’s Brad Hutchison. His car may not have the raw pace of the newer RS3s but Hutchison has maximised its potential with a run of consistent finishes, topped by third in the second race at Oulton Park last month. A top-10 finish, followed by a strong run in the reversed-grid race, should be on the cards again this weekend.
Reigning champion Chris Smiley finds himself a lowly ninth in the points as his Restart Racing team travels to Scotland. The Northern Irishman has been hit by new-car teething issues with the Honda Civic Type R FL5, a podium on debut offset by two non-finishes. With the team receiving delivery of its own car just before the Oulton Park races (it had used JAS Motorsport’s development car for the first two race weekends), hopes are high for a return to form. Team-mate Scott Sumpton remains in the older FK7 model and is also due some better fortune after technical gremlins side-lined him all day at Oulton Park.
Bradley Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai Veloster N) has been enduring another frustrating season. The speed is there but the Hyundai Customer Racing Junior Driver so far only has one podium finish to show for it. With a championship challenge now a tough ask, Kent can throw caution to the wind and go all-out to claim a first win for nearly two years.
After a difficult time at Oulton Park last time out, due to an engine change, Paul Sheard Racing’s Oliver Cottam returns to familiar ground this weekend in his Audi RS3 LMS Gen II, having raced at the Fife venue previously. The youngest driver in TCR UK history is joined once more by Jonathan Beeson, who will be behind the wheel of the same Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR which 2018 champion Daniel Lloyd took to two race wins on the same track.
Another who has experienced more than his fair share of bad luck this year is Callum Newsham. Unfortunately for him, his pace aboard the JH Racing Hyundai i30 N means he still carries 20kg compensation weight, despite scoring no points at Oulton Park and lying outside the top 10 in the championship. But that’s less weight than he had on board at Oulton where he qualified eighth despite missing the end of the session, so there’s a good chance he’ll still be in the fight for podiums this weekend.
After a fine second place at Oulton Park, Darelle Wilson will be full of confidence in his ageing Vauxhall Astra TCR as he tries to score another upset.
The Tom Walker Memorial Trophy, for those without previous podium finishes prior to this season, is currently led by Carl Boardley, but Jenson Brickley and Joe Marshall are within striking distance. Boardley also leads the way in the Goodyear Diamond Award for older drivers, where he holds an advantage of more than 100 points over Garry Townsend, who drives a Gen II Audi.
TCR UK’s first Scottish round in five years features even more track action than usual. Free practice and Qualifying take place in the morning of Saturday 22 July at 0920hrs and 1100hrs respectively. The first race is also on Saturday, scheduled for a 1405hrs start. There are two more races on Sunday, timetabled for 1020hrs and 1355hrs.
The extra race means that this weekend there is not one but two opportunities to take part in the popular pre-race public grid walks! These are at the end of each day’s lunch breaks and have been a big hit all season, as fans can get up to close to the cars and drivers on track – don’t miss it!
Qualifying and all three 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.