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Spins, Scrapes and Smashing Overtakes: TCR Touring Car Championship Race 1 & 2 Review

Written by Aimee Szulczewski, Edited by Sasha Macmillen

Image Credits: BRSCC

The TCR UK Touring Car Championship kicked off this weekend at the Snetterton 300 circuit, with two exciting races to start the season with a bang. After reuniting with the BRSCC, this season is set to be the biggest season ever for TCR racing.

The series features twenty-four 1.75 two-litre turbocharged saloon cars, built by manufacturers to comply with controlled technical regulations and FIA homologation. For TCR racing, the series has become high-profile and highly competitive, which has brought in a new burst of drivers this year.

With twelve corners and a distance of just under three miles, the Snetterton 300 circuit is a great venue to kick off the season and brings lots of excitement and drama.

For both races, the Norfolk weather was cloudy and dry, with an average temperature of 14 degrees. This meant that the cars would be struggling with rear tyre temperature, as they would be losing temperature quicker, leading to less grip at the slower corners.

Race 1 - Sunday 9th April 2023 @ 13:20 (25 minutes)

Image Credits: BRSCC

With the first race kicking off after the lunch break and a grid walk from Paul O’Neil, the drivers were ready to race. Pole position saw a double TCR champion, Josh Files (9), driving a Hyundai Elantra as a one-off on his UK debut for TCR racing. Teammate Bruce Winfield (37) was behind him in second, and directly behind Bruce, one-to-watch reigning TCR champion Chris Smiley (1) in a brand new Honda Civic Type R.

Brad Kent (4) was ready to fight after having his pole position taken away and sent to the back of the grid for a technical infringement. Another driver ready for a fight was the youngest on the grid Oliver Cottam (98), in a brand new Gen2 Audi RS3.

25:00 > As the lights go out, Winfield (37) makes a great start overtaking his teammate for pole position with Adam Shepherd (117) following behind in second. At the centre, Dan Kirby (14), starting 14th, goes off onto the grass and loses places to Alistair Camp (45) and others. At the back of the grid, Brad Kent (4) begins to fight to get on the podium, by trying to get past Garry Townsend (223), who puts up a good defence against Kent.

23:31 > After the first lap, Chris Smiley (1) and Lewis Brown (39) battle for 3rd position. However, despite Smiley having the inside advantage, Brown seemed faster which would help him in the long run. Jenson Brickley (246) starting in 8th kept his pace and continued fighting to finish in the top 10. Another impressive start was from Carl Boardley (41), who started at 11th position and made his way up to 6th place.

16:36 > A battle of the Audis between Brad Hutchinson (17), Oliver Cottam (98), and Jack Constable (11) led to scrapes and smashes, as pieces of bodywork hung off the car. Unfortunately for young Oliver, the damage to his right side destroyed his pace and eventually forced retirement for the car 11 minutes in, hoping the team could fix the car in time for Race 2.

15:25 > Not long after Cottam’s departure, Darelle Williams (50) pitted with damage and retires early from the race.

13:43 > The battle for pole continues between teammates Winfield (37) and Files (9) with only 0.7 seconds between them. However, Area Motorsport’s plan begins to be questioned, as it is common knowledge that Winfield (37) is aiming to win the championship. Files plans on only competing in a few races, so this attack and defence move could be strategic. Especially as Josh appeared quicker, hitting every apex and seeming more on the nose, compared to Bruce, who began to struggle with his front grip. Additionally, the four cars behind Bruce were all lapping quicker.

09:20 > During this time, at the centre of the pack, a battle for 13th place between Brad Kent (4), Dan Kirby (14) and Alistair Camp (45) heats up. Brad (4) needed more pace to make up the positions, from his start at the back of the grid, which he had begun to make up.

08:52 > Callum Newsham (16) goes off track, which could have helped Brad (4) if a safety car was called, however, only a yellow flag sector was brought out.

05:50 > Alistair Camp (45) instead takes 12th position and maintains a consistent pace. Brad (4) struggled to get past Dan Kirby (14) as he goes wide and takes the place.

04:00 > Jack Constable (11) comes off after a great overtake for 9th against Scott Sumpton (27). During this time, the battle for 10th continues, as Alistair Camp (45) and Brad Hutchinson (17) attack for the pole on a reverse grid for the second race.

02:16 > The final lap approaches, as Rick Kerry (72) pulls over to the side of the track, giving up his position. At the same time, Lewis Brown (39) secures 4th position from Alex Ley (76), who has been setting fastest laps throughout.

00:00 > The chequered flag calls a victory for Bruce Winfield (37).

Post-race, Dan Kirby (14) received a 5-second penalty for exceeding track limits, and Scott Sumpton (27) who finished 9th was disqualified for not marking his tyres after the race.

1st - Bruce Winfield (37) +1

2nd - Josh Files (9) -1

3rd - Chris Smiley (1) +1

4th - Lewis Brown (39) +2

5th - Alex Ley (76) =

FL - Josh Files (9) 1:57.719

Race 2 - Sunday 9th April @ 17:20 (25 minutes)

Image Credits: BRSCC

A benefit of a reverse grid for the Race 1 Top Ten meant that Alistair Camp (45) was in pole position during his debut TCR drive. Behind him, Brad Hutchinson (17) and Jenson Brickley (246), with the previous race winner Bruce Winfield (37) in 10th. Callum Newsham (16), was rumoured to be a non-starter due to a technical issue, however, he started in the pits after the installation of a new gearbox in the break.

The reverse grid has a more competitive atmosphere, as there is a greater push for the front from the cars in the middle. Other drivers starting near the back, such as Oliver Cottam (98) and Scott Sumpton (27), had more to prove after their finish in the race prior.

25:00 > As the lights go out, there is immediate competition and fight between the cars, plus a side of inevitable contact between most drivers. Brad Hutchinson (17) managed to take the inside line at the first corner, taking the lead for the final race at Snetterton. This competition led to the Type R Honda Civic of Chris Smiley (1) smashing into the barriers with a yellow flag and a possible safety car to come. During this time, Josh Files (9) made his way up behind Brad Hutchinson (17) for a provisional second place.

19:00 > After two laps under the safety car, the real race continued. Lewis Brown (39) and Alistair Camp (45) battled for 4th place and behind them Bruce Winfield (37), Jason Brickley (246) and Adam Shepherd (117) came forward for a top spot.

17:40 > Brad Hutchinson (17) still led the race, as Josh Files (9) made contact with him, allowing Joe Marshall-Birks (99) to close the gap for 3rd.

16:32 > Joe Marshall-Birks (99) went wide at turn 1, squeezing at the hairpin, and overtook a locked-up Josh Files (9) for 2nd place. As Lewis Brown (39) pushed Josh (9) into the corner, Brad Hutchinson (17) went wide.

16:01 > An exciting battle continued for the top spot, with Joe Marshall-Birks (99) in 2nd place, Alex Ley (76) in 4th place, and Lewis Brown (39) now in 5th.

14:56 > Joe Marshall-Birks (99) took the lead with a tremendous to overtake, however at the next corner he was too late on the brakes, going over the curb and landing on the grass.

14:32 > Josh Files (9) went around the outside of Brad Hutchinson (17) and tookthe lead. Lewis Brown (39) began to match the pace of Josh (9), as he set himself up for an overtake.

14:20 > As Lewis (39) takes the outside line, he overtakes Josh (9) for the race lead, and the fastest lap. Carl Boardley (41) held onto the top five positions from his start in 5th, began to attempt to clutch onto a top spot.

13:30 > Alex Ley (76) came up the inside and takes 3rd place, and right behind him Bruce Winfield (37) followed his racing line, benefiting from Brad Hutchinson’s (17) decreasing pace.

12:39 > Brad Kent (4) now made it up to the top ten from 11th, taking over Brown’s (39) fastest lap. At the same time, the Cupra Leon of Carl Boardley (41) makes its way up to 3rd place.

11:16 > Files (9) is 9/10ths quicker than Lewis Brown (39), despite Lewis having been quicker in most sectors of the track.

10:10 > Brown (39) takes the fastest lap but needs to maintain his pace and speed to catch up the second between himself and Files (9).

08:39 > To combat Brown’s (39) ever-quickening pace, Files (9) comes through with purple in most sectors. However, they both come out with identical race times as they pass the timing line once again.

06:52 > A battle for 3rd as Alex Ley (76) and Bruce Winfield (37) attack and defend against each other.

03:05 > Files (9) begins to lose pace by oversteering, as Brown (39) catches up behind him. Brad Kent (4) attempts to get onto the podium with his new set-up after Race 1, which has given him much better traction than previously.

02:29 > As the race leaders make their way to the Senna Straight, Brown (39) has more pace. They reach Riches (T1) and Files (9) tried to defend Brown (39) off.

02:08 > Brown (39) goes on the outside, at the same time as heartbreak for Files (9) as his engine blows at Montreal (T2) destroying his lead. With oil on the track, Brown (39) may have a hard time keeping control, and he began to lose the rear at the hairpin.

00:21 > A spin from Darelle Wilson (50) brings a possible safety car, as he made contact with Jack Constable (11). However, this has no impact until after the race, as Jack (11) receives a two-place penalty for causing the collision.

00:00 > The chequered flag waves on an exciting final race for the weekend, with a victory for the newcomer, Lewis Brown (39).

1st - Lewis Brown (39) +6

2nd - Alex Ley (76) +4

3rd - Bruce Winfield (37) +7

4th - Bradley Kent (4) +7

5th - Carl Boardley (41) =

FL - Lewis Brown (39) 1:57.564

Overall, an exciting weekend opener for the TCR Touring Car Championship at Snetterton. Some disappointment for drivers and teams, who were hoping to finish higher. However, with a few weeks until the next round, the teams have time to reflect and change the set-up of the cars. On the other hand, some finished in a great position, and can work in the knowledge of strong results.

The next round is set to be at Croft Circuit on the 6th-7th of May, which will bring more highs and lows for the drivers and teams.


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