The TCR UK Touring Car Championship kicks into gear at Snetterton over the Easter weekend for Rounds 1 & 2 of the much-anticipated 2023 season. The races will take place on Sunday (9 April) with an impressive 24-car grid featuring new names, new cars and multiple tin-top champions.
Building on the fantastic 2022 season, undoubtedly TCR UK’s biggest and best in its five-year history, the championship returns to the British Racing & Sports Car Club fold where it will headline each weekend of its seven-event season. Five manufacturers are represented on the grid by 10 different models, including three latest-generation versions making their UK debuts this weekend.
A field with incredible strength in depth will be giving their all in the battle for honours and an impressive prize fund totalling £75,000, which rewards the top three in each race as well as the overall championship. There are prizes too for the champions of the Tom Walker Memorial Trophy (for rookies and those without previous podium finishes) and Goodyear Diamond Trophy (for drivers aged 40 or over) categories as well as the Driver of the Day at each event.
Heading the cast is reigning champion Chris Smiley. The Northern Irishman has a notable touring car pedigree and took last year’s title in his Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR. Now the team and Smiley are back to defend the crown in an exciting new car, the Honda Civic Type R FL5 which will be making its global debut in Smiley’s hands. Restart expands to a two-car operation this year, with teenager Scott Sumpton joining Ben Taylor’s squad for his second season in the championship.
Area Motorsport, which has powered Bruce Winfield to second and third in the standings for the past two seasons, returns with a mouth-watering four-car line-up oozing quality. Winfield himself will have a third crack at the title, piloting the Hyundai i30 N TCR he switched to at the end of last season.
Teenager Alex Ley was a three-time race winner last year on his way to sixth in the standings despite missing the opening round. The newly-announced Hyundai Customer Racing Junior Driver is set to benefit from Daniel James Motorsport’s tie-up with Area to run his i30 N. Likewise, Adam Shepherd, a former Ginetta GT4 Supercup frontrunner and multiple title-winner in other categories, was a TCR UK race winner last year and is sure to be battling at the sharp end in his Area Motorsport example.
The fourth Area Motorsport car represents the UK debut of the Hyundai Elantra N which has been at the forefront of the world stage for the past two seasons. Josh Files, four times a TCR champion overseas including the 2019 TCR Europe title, will be piloting the car at Snetterton in what is currently a single-event deal. Newcomer Luke Sargeant is set to make his debut with the squad next time out at Croft.
Completing the line-up of Hyundai-powered drivers is Callum Newsham. After recording two podium finishes in his debut season, the son of former BTCC race winner Dave Newsham has switched to an i30 N run by new team JH Racing for his sophomore year.
An influx of hotly-tipped Audi machinery is joining the series this year, with four Audi RS3 LMS TCR Gen II models fielded by two teams running full TCR UK programmes for the first time, but with plenty of pedigree elsewhere.
Leading the line-up for Rob Boston Racing, a multiple championship-winning outfit, is Jac Constable. This will be Constable’s third season in TCR UK. Four times a race winner, he will be looking to put together a championship challenge. Joining him is Joe Marshall, a TCR debutant with strong form in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup and Mazda MX-5 racing.
Completing the quartet of Gen II Audis are a pair run by Paul Sheard Racing. Experienced racer Garry Townsend is realising a long-held ambition to compete in touring cars and will be aiming for success in the Goodyear Diamond Trophy, while Oliver Cottam graduates from the Ginetta GT5 Challenge with his eyes set on the Tom Walker Memorial Trophy.
Brad Hutchison, twice a podium finisher in his first season in TCR UK last year, will continue to pilot one of the previous versions of the Audi RS3 LMS run by Bond It with MPHR, while the family team also fields Steve Gales’s example. Darron Lewis completes the trio of first-generation Audis with the car he appeared in at Donington Park last year.
Essex & Kent Motorsport, the team that took Lewis Kent to the TCR UK title in both 2020 and 2021, and an ever-present in the championship, returns for another tilt at seeking a third drivers’ title. Lewis’s younger brother Bradley carries the squad’s hopes and switches to the unique Hyundai Veloster N that Lewis piloted last year. Bradley is the second Hyundai Customer Racing Junior Driver on the grid, and the three-time race winner from 2021 will be hoping that the change of car helps banish the bad luck that blighted his 2022 campaign.
The latest generation CUPRA – the Leon Competición TCR – joined the TCR UK field last year in Matthew Wilson’s hands. The JWB Motorsport driver returns with the aim of building on that experience and is joined at the squad by George Jaxon in the Trade Nation-backed car. Jaxon joined the series for last year’s finale and is back for a full campaign in upgraded machinery this year.
Zest Racecar Engineering will also field two Leons. Dan Kirby, third in the championship two years ago, returns after a year out. He will be joined by former British Touring Car racer Carl Boardley who went well at the Donington Park media day.
A pair of up-and-coming young drivers with titles to their names complete the Leon line-up. Lewis Brown, the 2017 Ginetta GT5 Challenge champion and Mini Challenge frontrunner, joins the fray in his Chameleon Motorsport example. Jenson Brickley, who has taken consecutive championship crowns in Fiesta Junior and the senior Fiesta category over the past two years, will pilot a version run by his family team which includes some highly experienced engineering pedigree.
BMW champion and former British Touring Car driver Rick Kerry will join the championship in an earlier CUPRA TCR run by Team AFM Racing, having previously gained experience of the platform in longer distance racing.
TCR UK stalwart Darelle Wilson flies the flag of the fifth manufacturer on the grid as he will again compete in his popular Vauxhall Astra TCR, now in a striking new livery. Wilson will be aiming to recapture the form that took him to a race win in 2021.
TCR UK’s first-ever event on the longer Snetterton 300 circuit features free practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday 8 April, scheduled for 1040hrs and 1415hrs. Both races take place on the afternoon of Sunday 9 April and are timetabled to start 1320hrs and 1720hrs. The event will also feature the return of the popular grid walk for sponsors and spectators before the first race.
All the race action 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.