TCR Spec Cars To Shake Up PWC and Continental

By Tom Martin

October 18, 2017

As you may have discerned, there is a sweeping change that has been rolling through the tiers of production car racing in the U.S. That change is the shift:

  • away from custom, shop-built touring cars and GT cars run to a set of rules
  • to factory-built cars based on an international specification run within a balance of performance system

This shift is designed to both lower the cost of cars (or at least limit development expense) and to make competition reliably close. The shift has been spearheaded by the SRO Motorsports Group, the organization responsible for Blancpain GT, British GT, GT4 and International GT series. The SRO is also a major shareholder in Pirelli World Challenge in the U.S. This shift has been supported by many OEMs, as evidenced by the broad array of GT3 and GT4 cars competing in various series. Mirroring this, a similar approach is being used, for example, in Global MX-5 Cup and VLN. This approach seems to be the future of national customer racing, the level of competition between club racing and fully-sponsored pro racing.

The latest development in this area is the advent of TCR cars in the Pirelli World Challenge and the Continental Sports Car Championship. TCR cars will be the top level of the PWC Touring Car classes (with TC and TCA) and they will form a new class alongside the CTSC GS and ST classes.

In case you missed it, TCR cars are four-door, front-wheel drive production cars heavily modified for racing application. Generally, the TCR spec calls for about 330 hp with a weight of about 2900 lb with driver. The cars have race ECUs, full safety equipment, DSG and substantial aero modifications.

Cars should be offered by Audi, Volkswagen, Honda and Alfa Romeo, at least. The Audi R3 LMS has already competed in PWC TC, run to a slightly reduced spec, and was used by Paul Holton to win the drivers championship (BMW won the manufacturers title, but divided points among a large group of drivers). The R3 LMS is an impressive car which seemed to do especially well on shorter tracks. The 2018 R3 LMS, ready to run, should be in the $140-$150k range.

Volkswagen will offer the Golf GTI TCR for 2018 competition. The GTI TCR won the European TCR championship in 2016, so it arrives in the U.S. with some credentials. Reflecting the spec nature of TCR, the GTI TCR is quoted at 330 hp with the same basic weight as other TCR cars (this may change as BOP is measured). The VW should cost about $20k less than the Audi.

We will also see an entry from Alfa Romeo that is based on a car not sold in the U.S., the Giulietta. Again, power and weight should be similar to the Audi and VW.

Finally, Honda is expected to enter the Civic Type R TCR. Honda quotes a little more power than Audi or VW, but BOP will adjust for that (if needed). The Civic Type R TCR is currently leading the 2017 European TCR championship.

For information on Winding Road Racing's 2018 Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA customer racing programs, contact Jeff Sexton: jsexton@windingroad.com