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Audi backs new TCR race category

Australia set to get junior touring car race category, with Audi’s RS3 first in line

2 Aug 2018

AUDI Australia has become the first local car company to throw its support behind a new baby touring car racing category, TCR Series Australia, which promoters plan to take to local tracks late next year, bringing Australia into the fast-growing global entry-level motorsport class.
Other manufacturers are said to be interested in the new front-wheel-drive car category that, internationally, includes homologated entries from 13 brands – Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Peugeot, Renault, Subaru, Volkswagen, Lada, Opel, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Seat, as well as Audi.
While fully fledged touring cars such as Australia’s V8-powered Supercars can cost millions of dollars to run for a season, new ready-to-race TCR cars can be bought off the shelf for about $200,000. Pre-loved cars from Europe or Asia can be even cheaper.
New motorsport promoter Australian Racing Group (ARG) – headed by former Volvo Australia managing director and Supercars Australia managing director Matt Braid – today announced that it had received the tick of approval from the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) to run the Australian version of the series.
So far, ARG has not locked down details of the new series, including whether it will be included in the Shannons Nationals series or tied to the high-profile Supercars series as a support category.
TCR – standing for Touring Car Racing – was designed as a cost-effective category, employing small four-cylinder “hot hatch” production cars.
To help rein in costs, the engines are restricted to 2.0-litre turbo-charged production based units and restricted to 253kW of power and 410Nm of torque. Transmissions, brakes, wheels, tyres, aerodynamics and safety systems are strictly controlled. Fancy race technologies such as telemetry are banned.
Ballast is used as a form of handicapping to maintain close racing.
Audi has been keen on the series since it began overseas in 2014, even bringing a race-ready RS3 TCR LMS to Australia last year for evaluation and to promote the prospect of a series here.
Audi Australia corporate communications manager Shaun Cleary said the brand was in a good position to get on the front foot with the new category once it was up and running.
He said potential drivers and teams would be able to buy or lease authorised RS3 TCR cars through the already established Audi Sport Customer Racing service that, for Australia, is run by Melbourne Performance Centre. 
Fully fledged factory teams are banned under TCR global rules, but the manufacturers are encouraged to – like Audi – help with the development of cars to be run at arm’s length by private teams, including both professional and amateur outfits.
While most TCR racers are based on hatchbacks such as the Honda Civic Type R, Peugeot 308 GTi and Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Audi uses the RS3 sedan.
Ironically, the RS3’s original 294kW 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine is too big and too powerful for the TCR race category, having to be downsized to a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit with the regulation 253kW.
The quattro all-wheel-drive system also gets the flick under the front-wheel-drive-only rules.
TCR racing operates at a number of levels around the world, with the pinnacle being the FIA World Touring Car Cup that has rounds in Morocco, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Argentina, China, Japan and Macau.
Regional championships are also held in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, while at least 12 national championship series are also staged.
The category also runs in some endurance races and series, raising hopes that it might be included in events such as the Bathurst 12-Hour.

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