There are only three events left in this year’s TCR UK Touring Car Championship as the series heads to Silverstone this weekend (19-20 August). More than 20 cars will be in action at the home of British motorsport as the title race hots up.
Silverstone’s quickfire National circuit staged TCR UK’s first-ever races in 2018, but it’s three years since the championship has raced on the 1.64-mile layout. On that occasion, Lewis Kent took a significant stride towards claiming his maiden TCR UK title. Will somebody do similar this weekend?
A fine weekend at Knockhill lifted Carl Boardley to the top of the current standings. On a circuit he knows very well, the Suffolk racer will be looking to add to the three victories he has already achieved in his debut TCR UK campaign. But his pace at Knockhill means he carries the maximum 40kg of compensation weight on his CBM with Hart GT CUPRA Leon Competición – and on a circuit with a couple of heavy braking zones, that could be crucial.
Previous championship leader Bruce Winfield now has a deficit of 25 points (after allowing for dropped scores) to make up on Boardley. A non-finish in the second race of Knockhill’s triple-header proved costly for the Area Motorsport driver, although he can at least chalk that off as a dropped score. The flip side of his qualifying struggle in Scotland means Winfield’s Hyundai i30 N carries no compensation weight this week, providing a significant advantage over all of his championship rivals.
Winfield’s teammates Adam Shepherd and Alex Ley are in a slightly different position. Both qualified well and racked up decent points hauls at Knockhill, saddling themselves with 30kg of compensation weight for Silverstone, while ensuring they stayed in the title fight. With dropped scores removed, Shepherd heads the tightly contested chasing pack, third in the standings. Hyundai Customer Racing Junior Driver Ley is sixth, but just 10 points further back after a confidence-boosting first win of the season.
Area Motorsport’s quartet is completed by the returning Luke Sargeant in his exciting Hyundai Elantra N. In his first season of racing, Sargeant looked assured on his TCR UK debut at Oulton Park, and will now be aiming to progress towards the front of the midfield.
Rob Boston Racing pair Jac Constable and Joe Marshall surprised themselves with their Knockhill pace in the relatively long-wheelbase Audi RS3 LMS Gen II machinery. They qualified second and third, while Marshall set the fastest lap in the weekend’s third race. Each had a podium finish and a decent weekend score which kept them well-placed in the points, fourth and seventh overall. Maximum compensation weight could hurt their chances this weekend but the Audi has shown already this season that it can carry the weight well.
RBR expands to a three-car team this weekend, with the addition of Andy Wilmot to the line-up. Wilmot won the 2020 Volkswagen Racing Cup, a former TCR UK support series, and has plenty of TCR experience to draw on. After a one-off appearance at Croft in an ageing Hyundai, he returns in a CUPRA Leon Competición. In similar machinery, Wilmot could be a rival to Boardley in the Goodyear Diamond Award for drivers over 40.
Fifth in the standings, and very much still in the title hunt coming into this weekend, is Jenson Brickley. Being arguably the season’s most consistent driver to date counts against Brickley when it comes to dropping his lowest scores, but a double podium at Knockhill will fill the youngster with confidence. His family team’s CUPRA should be one to watch again.
Also in a CUPRA Leon is JWB Motorsport’s Matthew Wilson, who impressed at Knockhill by finishing fifth in the second race. Rick Kerry (Team AFM Racing) meanwhile returns in his first-generation CUPRA TCR. The Audi line-up is completed by Oliver Cottam (Paul Sheard Racing), Garry Townsend (Townsend Motorsport) and a pair of drivers in the older Gen I model, Brad Hutchison (Bond It with MPHR) and Darron Lewis (Darron Lewis Racing).
It has been a tough 2023 season for reigning champion Chris Smiley and his Restart Racing team. Their new Honda Civic Type R FL5 has suffered various teething problems and Smiley is now focused on ensuring the car can be a consistent force next year. His young team-mate Scott Sumpton is racking up experience in the older FK7 model. A career-best finish of eighth last time out demonstrates his upward trajectory.
Two more drivers who have been dogged by bad luck are Callum Newsham (JH Racing Hyundai i30 N) and Bradley Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai Veloster). Both have regularly shown pace strong enough to be challenging right at the front but have very little to show for it, with just one podium between them so far this season. Could this be the weekend when their luck turns?
An exciting addition to this weekend’s field is a second Vauxhall Astra. It will be piloted by Jeff Alden, a Civic Cup regular who returns to the series for the first time since the 2020 season finale. The car will run from the same garage as series stalwart Darelle Wilson’s sister Astra, a long-time fans’ favourite.
As well as leading the overall points, Carl Boardley currently tops the standings for both the Tom Walker Memorial Trophy and Goodyear Diamond Award. Jenson Brickley and Joe Marshall lead the chase in the Tom Walker Memorial section, which is for rookies and drivers without podium finishers in previous years. Boardley holds a massive advantage over nearest challenger Garry Townsend in the Goodyear Diamond Award, for drivers over 40.
TCR UK’s two days of action at the famed Silverstone circuit begin with an early start for Free Practice at 0925hrs on Saturday (19 August) morning, with Qualifying following at 1150hrs. Both races take place on Sunday (20 August). Lights out on Round 10 of the championship is scheduled for 1330hrs and is preceded by the ever-popular public grid walk at 1315hrs. Make sure you’re there to take advantage of the amazing access to the stars and their cars. Round 11 of the championship will get underway later that afternoon, at 1625hrs.
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.