TCR UK’s launch and test event held at Brands Hatch on Monday 28th March revealed the start of what is destined to be the biggest and most spectacular year yet for the burgeoning multi-marque touring car championship’s fifth consecutive season.
From the 30 registrations received, 24 cars and 26 drivers took part in the timed test sessions and numerous photo calls that were held during the day. The event began with the traditional group grid shot where the early morning mist provided an atmosphere that perfectly depicted the new dawn for TCR competition in the UK.
For those present, the morning’s test sessions provided an opportunity to put cars through their paces and give drivers a spell of all-important seat time with just three weeks to go before the opening round. It was also the first chance for teams to assess the competition and see exactly what they’ll be up against this season.
A press conference at midday was followed by more photo opportunities, as the field lined up in the pit lane before a selection of cars were ushered onto the circuit for a series of tracking shots.
Testing recommenced in the afternoon and as the track warmed up, the tumbling lap times suggested who may be the drivers to watch this season. And whilst pre-season tests are not necessarily a measure of performance, seven drivers circulated the 1.208-mile Indy configuration of the circuit quicker than that of the pole-sitter when TCR UK last visited Brands Hatch in June last year.
Conspicuous by his absence at the launch event was last year’s TCR UK Champion Lewis Kent, who was unable to attend. However, his Essex and Kent Motorsport team brought along the Hyundai Veloster N TCR that he’ll drive this year. The car – the only one of its kind currently being campaigned in Europe – was shaken down by Lewis’ brother Bradley.
Flying in from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Championship that morning, Formula 1 Television presenter, Aston Martin Driver Ambassador, W Series competitor and movie stunt driver Jessica Hawkins took part in the test in the CUPRA TCR she’ll drive this season.
Another notable attendee was 16-year old Alex Ley, who proved he is one to watch and made his mark on proceedings by setting the fourth-fastest time of the day driving a Hyundai i30N TCR.
At the press conference, Championship Manager Stewart Lines said:
“It’s been great to showcase what’s in store for TCR UK this year at today’s event. We’re truly delighted with the number of registrations we’ve received. It’s testimony to the appeal of the TCR package and the efforts of everyone involved with the championship.
“Since we took over the TCR programme in 2019, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to build it into the championship it deserves to be, and this year sees it take a big step towards that goal. With more teams, more drivers and more exposure, there’s no doubt that 2022 is going to be the biggest and best year yet and with the number of cars and quality of the drivers on the grid, we’re going to see some great racing too.
“I have to thank all of our sponsors, partners and competitors for their support and I’m looking forward to what promises to be a spectacular season for TCR in the UK.”
Top 10 times
1. Adam Shepherd Hyundai i30N TCR 49.078
2. Bradley Kent Hyundai i30N TCR 49.245
3. Callum Newsham CUPRA TCR 49.435
4. Alex Ley Hyundai i30N TCR 49.478
5. Hugo Cook Audi RS3 LMS TCR 49.586
6. Max Hart Hyundai i30N TCR 49.617
7. Brad Hutchinson Audi RS3 LMS TCR 49.638
8. Bruce Winfield CUPRA TCR 49.779
9. Matthew Wilson CUPRA Leon Competición 50.226
10. Jack Depper VW Golf GTi TCR 50.231
TCR UK is supported by Goodyear, Maximum Networks, Liqui Moly, Corbeau, MaxiCloud Hosted Telephony, Berkshire Turbo, PBS, Joyce Design, Shepherd Compello Motorsport Insurance and Sunoco. The Championship is administered by Club Time Attack.
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