Following the introduction of the TCR International Series concept early in 2015, the TCR Asia Series regional series contested four rounds last year, with some spirited competition between some of Asia’s best drivers, including a string of multiple Touring Car champions.
Season 2016 already looks like providing more of the same with some impressive additions to the field, and a string of new and updated cars.
Despite only cameo appearances in the 2015 season, Volkswagen is back with a vengeance in 2016, with four of the stunning new Volkswagen Golf GTi TCRs, two each for German powerhouse Liqui Moly Team Engstler and two for successful Chinese operation TeamWork Motorsport.
Engstler will carry on their experiences from the inaugural season of the TCR International Series, where they ran the 2015-spec Volkswagen, and they will enjoy support from two experienced Touring Car campaigners, multiple China Touring Car champion Andy Yan, and multiple Macau Touring Car champion Filipe de Souza.
Both Yan and de Souza competed in the maiden season of the TCR Asia Series - Yan with FRD Motorsport who were developing the new Ford Focus TCR - and de Souza who recorded a number of top five finishes for the RoadStar Racing team.
Like Team Engstler, TeamWork Motorsport are an experienced Touring Car operation, running a number of successful teams across Asia including entries in the China Touring Car Championship. They also have five championship crowns to their name in Macau, the 2013 Touring Car Series title in Asia and three Hong Kong Touring Car championship victories.
For their maiden season in the TCR Asia Series, they will be supported by GUSTO Technik and campaign experienced Asian driver Kevin Tse, and Asian-based American Bill O’Brien.
Reigning champions Honda too will be well supported, with 2015 Buriram race winner Tin Sritrai contesting the 2016 season under the Team Thailand banner, the popular young driver stepping across from Seat, he will be joined in the JAS Motorsport built Civic TCR by Macau’s Henry Ho and Champ Motorsport team-mate Michael Ho.
Both Champ Motorsport drivers have extensive experience, Henry Ho with prior knowledge of the TCR Honda as a competitor in the TCR Series final at Macau, on a circuit the Macanese driver knew implicitly as a three-time Macau Touring Car champion. Michael Ho meanwhile is one of Asia’s most legendary drivers, with extensive experience in a range of categories from Formula 3 in Europe to Touring Cars all over Asia, the 24-year racing veteran though a rookie in a TCR car, but with a lot of experience to draw on.
Seat too will be well represented, the returning Douglas Khoo will head up the Malaysian Viper Niza Racing operation in his 2015-spec car which has just been upgraded to 2016-spec which includes the addition of a sequential gearshift, whilst RoadStar Racing too will return, with two cars for Terence Tse and Kam Cheong Yu.
Tse is a relative newcomer to the sport, with a mix of production car and open-wheel experience, whilst team-mate Kam Cheong Yu has driven a variety of cars in Asia over many years, including Touring Cars and GT cars, both however will be new to the TCR Touring Car concept.
“Finally the start of the new season is upon us,” WSC Asia Limited CEO David Sonenscher, the promoter of the TCR Asia Series admitted.
“It seems like an eternity since the final event last year at Macau, but now we’re here at Korea International Circuit with a compact but competitive field to start the new season.
“Obviously we’re overjoyed to be able to reveal a number of new teams and a range of new cars, but like any promoter, we’d liked to have had more, however the first round saw a number of teams still unable to take delivery of cars. Sadly the reason is due to the success of the category internationally and the demand for TCR-spec cars all over the world, a good problem to have, but frustrating for those teams who were unable to arrange cars for the opening round. I’m sure we’ll see a number of them join us as the series progresses.”
The TCR Asia Series competitors will get their first look at the Korea International Circuit on Thursday with four free-practice sessions to acclimatise with the South Korean venue and their new cars, before the official part of the weekend gets underway on Friday.
Keep in touch with www.facebook.com/TCRAsiaSeries for news and updates, and get involved in the TCR conversation as well on www.twitter.com/TCRAsiaSeries
KOREA INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT
Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Jeolla (South Korea)
Track length: 5.620-kilometres
Circuit first opened: 11 October, 2010
Support classes: TCR Asia Series, Clio Cup Asia, Asian Formula Renault
Rnd#1/#2 - 2016 TCR Asia Series
Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea
Schedule (KST - GMT +9)
Friday, 13 May
9:00 - Practice #1 (30-minutes)
12:10 - Practice #2 (30-minutes)
15:30 - Practice #3 (30-minutes)
Saturday, 14 May
8:30 - Practice #4 (30-minutes)
11:20 - Practice #5 (30-minutes)
14:15 - Qualifying #1 (20-minutes)
14:40 - Qualifying #2 (10-minutes)
Sunday, 15 May
12:50 - Race#1 (14-laps)
15:15 - Race#2 (14-laps)