Hyundai i30 N TCR customer teams lead the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) points after a spectacular performance across the opening three races of the brand new championship at the Race of Morocco (7-8 April). With two wins from the weekend, as well as the five points on offer for taking pole position from Sunday’s qualifying session, BRC Racing Team driver Gabriele Tarquini leads the championship.
Having already taken victory in Saturday’s historic first race around the Marrakech street circuit Tarquini led four i30 N TCR to lock-out the front two rows of the grid in the weekend’s second qualifying session, with his BRC teammate Norbert Michelisz and the pair of Yvan Muller Racing cars lining up behind him. After a battling Race 2, where their stellar one-lap pace put them at the back of a reversed top-ten, the Hyundai-running teams returned to the front for the finale.
Tarquini led from lights to flag to earn his way onto the top step of the podium ahead of the two YMR entered drivers, led by Team Manager Yvan Muller. Unaffected by the brake issues that dogged rival manufacturers thought the weekend, despite the series’ Balance of Performance regulations making the i30 N TCR one of the heaviest cars on the grid, the teams hold a handsome lead in the standings.
Gabriele Tarquini said about his historic win: “The Hyundai i30 N TCR was fantastic, fast and reliable, and kept a great pace all weekend. BRC Team impeccably coped with every situation. I’m over the moon and hope the dream continues”.
Norbert Michelisz explains: “It was a pretty unlucky weekend, but I still managed to get important scores for the general ranking. We have 27 races ahead and nothing is lost. I’m very motivated for the next event, my home race at Hungaroring”.
BRC Racing Team CEO Massimiliano Fissore commented: “The Marrakech weekend was very positive for BRC Racing Team. We proved to have a good team, excellent drivers and the Hyundai i30 N TCR was extremely competitive. These factors make us optimistic for the season ahead, and we believe we have all the parts to be among those challenging for the victory all year”.
Double 1-2 from Pirelli World Challenge debut
The sensational debut on the world stage completed an incredible few weeks for i30 N TCR customers. Opening the Pirelli World Challenge season at the Circuit of the Americas (March 24-25) in Texas, Bryan Herta Autosport dominated the first event for the TCR category in the championship. Drivers Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis swept the front row in qualifying for the Hyundai America backed team – beginning their first season in touring cars - and then went on to take 1-2 results in both races, with each man taking a victory in a perfect start to their campaign.
TCR class podium on first Nordschleife run
The same weekend a pair of Hyundai N entered i30 N TCR took on the Nürburgring Nordschleife in the first round of the VLN championship. Despite being left facing the wrong way at the very first corner of the four-hour race Tarquini and Korean driver Jae Kyun Kim fought back to finish third in a very competitive TCR class on the incredibly demanding 25km circuit. The experienced pairing of Nicola Larini and Manuel Lauck also fought back after problems early in the running, after Larini slid off track on oil dropped by a competitor and damaged the right-rear corner against the barrier. The team was able to repair the car, returning the pairing to the action for a sixth placed finish in class.
Young driver shows i30 N TCR pace in TCR UK
With Lewis Kent and his Essex & Kent Motorsport team the i30 N TCR was part of the first weekend of the TCR UK championship at Silverstone (March 31-April 1). One of the youngest drivers in the series Kent qualified a very impressive fourth fastest in mixed conditions. Unfortunately, a minor issue during race day kept him from converting his pace into a deserved result. However, his pace on a single lap gave a signal of intent for his first season in the TCR category.
Hyundai Motorsport’s first project for circuit racing took a big step forward, with the New Generation i30 TCR taking to the track for the first time as testing began for the new car.
The Customer Racing department travelled to Motorland Aragon in Spain as the development phase of the project got underway in earnest. Prior to the trip the team had completed several shakedown runs with the brand new design, but the three days at the track gave the engineers a first opportunity to gather data about the car’s behaviour around laps of a race circuit.
Completing the running without major reliability issues the team was able to begin trying alternative settings as they started to work towards a base set-up for the car. The mix of corners on the Aragon circuit made it the perfect venue for the maiden test. The 5.3km layout allowed the team and driver Gabriele Tarquini to refine the handling balance through both slow and high speed corners, as well as under heavy braking for the hairpin at the end of the long back straight.
The team was also able to test a number of different engine map settings to begin to gauge the performance of the two-litre turbocharged engine, which is connected to a six-speed sequential gearbox, operated with paddle-shifters.
Based on the road-going New Generation i30 platform the new race car is designed according to the successful TCR regulations that were first used in 2015. The category now forms the basis for a number of international and national championships, as well for classes that compete at endurance events.
Following the test the car returned to Hyundai Motorsport’s headquarters in Alzenau, Germany, where the team will prepare for next date in a busy development schedule.
Customer Racing department manager Andrea Adamo said: “The first test of a new car is always a very exciting moment in a project, and to have come through three days without a major problem makes it even better. We were able to complete all the work that we had set out for the test, which is obviously a nice start to a busy development schedule for the New Generation i30 TCR project. We were able to work on the balance of the car, and start developing an initial set-up that we can use in future, not only for the handling, but the important engine and differential settings. We can now use these as a base for future tests as we turn our focus to gaining the maximum performance from specific components.”
Testing of the New Generation i30 TCR will continue through the summer and autumn at venues around Europe. The first completed cars are expected to be delivered to customers is early December.