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Photo: Audi Sport

CTSC to include TCR class in the 2018 IMSA racing season

The International Motor Sports Association has confirmed a partnership with World Sporting Consulting to create a Touring Car Racing (TCR) class in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge to compete in the 2018 season.

World Sporting Consulting promotes and holds the rights to TCR, and organizes the TCR International Series, in addition to acting as the technical regulatory body for TCR International. The title TCR follows the FIA naming convention used by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to classify cars competing in touring car racing.

In CTSC, the TCR class joins the current Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) classes, most likely racing between those two classes based on the TCR cars current level of performance.

The Continental Tire Challenge TCR class will target manufacturers relevant to the North American sports car market. Several of those OEMs, including Honda, Ford, Audi, Alfa Romeo, Kia and Volkswagen, all currently produce TCR spec cars racing in various series around the world.

The TCR concept includes a production based 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with no more than 350 horsepower, using a 6-speed sequential gearbox with paddle shift. Eligible models are also front wheel drive with four or five doors and mass- produced by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The WSC homologates the TCR class within FIA Homologation Criteria for Touring Cars.

The Audi RS3 LMS, Ford Focus ST, Ford Focus TCR and Honda Civic TCR currently race in the TCR International Series. Other eligible cars include Volkswagen Golf TCR and Golf GTI TCR, Hyundai’s i30 TCR, the Kia Cee’d GT TCR and the Giulietta TCR produced by Alfa Romeo. According to the TCR International current technical regulations, WSC reserves the right to accept other cars with general characteristics to match the TCR concept, in addition to the currently homologated models in the class.

WSC also organizes the TCR International Series, an international touring car championship led by Marcello Lotti, former World Touring Car Championship creator. Lotti took the reigns of TCR International as chief executive in 2015, with the goal of creating a unified, cost-effective platform for national and international touring car racing. The former WTCC boss also created the precursor TC3 International Championship, in addition to his years of involvement with WTCC and the European Car Touring Championship.

TCR racing has grown exponentially worldwide since the creation of TCR International in 2015. Currently, TCR cars race over 200 races a year in more than 20 racing series worldwide, including Asia, Germany, China, Italy and the Middle East. In addition, TCR spec classes compete in the 24H Series, TC Open, and VLN series. The Mathilda Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR not only won the TC class at the 2017 ADAC 24-hour race at Nurburgring, but finished 29th overall, placing ahead of GT class cars.

“TCR has quickly become the standard global Touring Car platform,” said Lotti. “Our goal was to create a base again for Touring Car Racing. The crucial part about it was to keep the costs for the cars low to ensure equality of opportunity. In North America, we believed IMSA was the most professional partner available in the market and we could not be more pleased to establish this partnership together.”

“We began our due diligence process on the potential introduction of the TCR platform more than a year ago, and formally announced that we were exploring the concept last year,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “We engaged our automotive partners and teams throughout the discovery process and determined that TCR would be an attractive addition to the Continental Tire Challenge. We are pleased to work together with WSC CEO Marcello Lotti and Sporting and Series Director Nunzia Corvino to introduce what we believe will be a popular class to IMSA fans and participants.”

Through this partnership with WSC, IMSA has the exclusive right to establish TCR USA and TCR Canada as standalone series as the racing market grows for TCR spec cars. In addition, IMSA now holds the right to sublicense the proper use of TCR specifications to other race sanctioning bodies in North America as well.

As a result of this licensing agreement, the question may arise as to the future of TCR in the Pirelli World Challenge series. Two teams currently compete with the Audi RS3 LMS TCR Clubsport, the inclusion of which seemed to indicate plans by the series for a full spec TCR class in 2018. The 30-plus member Touring Car class includes BMW, MINI, Honda, Audi and Mazda, all of whom could be potential sources of a TCR eligible car. With the recent addition of the TC class races at Road America and expansion of the staff dedicated to TC, Pirelli World Challenge continues efforts to grow touring car class racing. The growth of TCR worldwide could indicate a desire by WSC to reflect this expansion in North America and perhaps encourage the inclusion of TCR into more than one sports car series in the United States.

Erin Charlton