OULTON PARK HOSTS OPENING TCR UK RACE DAY OF 2019
It’s been a long seven months since the last chequered flag fell on the inaugural TCR UK Touring Car Championship at Donington Park, and since then much has changed during the off season. Now, the series gets prepared for season two here in 2019, with Oulton Park in Cheshire the chosen setting for the opening rounds. With the usual supporting cast also in the paddock alongside them, this should be another fascinating day of action on the International circuit.
For 2019, TCR UK has chosen to share a grid with the new Dunlop Touring Car Trophy, seeing a mix of contemporary TCR machinery go up against some of the best NGTC, S2000 and Cup racing machinery from the world of tin-tops over the last few years. The TCR UK grid sees its line up for the opening round comprise mostly of familiar names and machines that contested 2018, with Carl Swift, Lewis Kent and Darelle Wilson also representing CUPRA, Hyundai and Vauxhall respectively. The trio are joined by Hong Kong racer Sunny Wong, who brings his Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR to give the newly formed Teamwork Huff Motorsport squad its UK racing and championship debut. The car will be run and prepared with Ciceley Motorsport, an outfit who are no stranger to succeeding in touring cars, so expect Sunny to get up to speed very quickly. The other Maximum Motorsport CUPRA has been taken up in a late development by last year’s TCR UK vice champion Ollie Taylor, who swaps out his Honda Civic Type R FK2 TCR from 2018 to pilot the car he’s shared with Stewart Lines on more than one occasion. As such, it will be a familiar car to Ollie, who will be gunning to begin 2019 with victory.
As mentioned, the Dunlop Touring Car Trophy races alongside TCR UK this year, with the expected favourite from the outset being Henry Neal, with the son of multiple BTCC champion Matt piloting one of his father’s old Team Dynamics Honda Civic NGTC racers. He will face competition from Alex Day, a former Ginetta Junior racer who brings the ex-Rob Austin Audi A4, lovingly dubbed Sherman by the team and its fans, back into racing service against cars of its kind. There’s more BTCC pedigree lining up in the entry too, as defending champion Colin Turkington’s younger brother James appears sporting a SEAT Leon Supercopa Mk2, also to be run by Ciceley Motorsport to bolster their effort. The two races should be superb as both series combine to begin a new era in British club motorsport.
Appearing on the timetable next to the main event comes the usual exciting programme of support races. The first is the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship, which kicked off 2019 with three different winners run by three different teams, in three different chassis from the opening three rounds at Snetterton amidst a baking hot Easter weekend. Rory Smith, Spike Kohlbecker and Neil MacLennan ensured that the championship lived up to its ever competitive nature, although you can be sure to count several more names that will wish to add to that tally. Ross Martin came close all weekend by collecting two 2nd places and a 3rd, leaving him 2nd in the Pro Class standings just a point behind leader Kohlbecker. Former British F4 racer Jamie Sharp will hope to make more progress up the order as he sits equal 4th with Smith, while Jonathan Browne and James Clarke will certainly give Kohlbecker support as his Cliff Dempsey Racing teammates. Plus, keep an eye out for double F1 eSports champion Brendon Leigh, who make a much publicised debut at Snetterton with Kevin Mills Racing and will certainly wish to make improvements on his result here this weekend.
The BRSCC Mazda MX-5 SuperCup is another championship that saw three different race winners from their opening rounds at Snetterton, with arguably the three main favourites for the title each taking home a first place trophy. In fact, the trio almost locked out the podium for themselves the entire weekend, with double defending champion Luke Herbert, Aidan Hills and Jack Harding all tasting victory at that meeting. Now at Oulton Park, three more races await as Cheshire marks a return to the sight of Hills’ very first race win in SuperCup in 2018. As such, it holds fond memories for him so expect him to be fired up from the word go. Also looking to be in the hunt for victory will be Steve Roberts, Will Stacey, Jack Sycamore, Bradley Kent and newcomer Patrick Fletcher, who adapted incredibly well to racing rear wheel drive after years competing in front wheel drive in the Clio 182 Championship.
Last but by no means least on the timetable will be the Disklok Civic Cup, who also enjoyed a brilliant pair of opening races on the Sunday of that Easter weekend at Snetterton. It was a whirlwind return for former champion Lee Deegan as he arrived on Sunday morning, qualified the car straight on pole with hardly any prior track time and then proceeded to win the opening race, showing that he’d lost none of his pace despite a year away from the championship. At the time of writing, his name does not appear on the entry list, so it’ll be left to the rest of the familiar front runners to fight over the spoils of victory. Expect names such as Daniel Reason, Mark Grice, Jason Ballantyne, Lewis Rose, Daniel Hobson, David Vincent and Bruce Winfield to be contesting spots on the podium all day in both races.