Autosport (UK)



TCR UK supremo Stewart Lines doesn’t shy away from the inevitable comparison with the British Touring Car Championsh­ip, but neither does he seek to fan the flames. “We need to exist in the same space, don’t we?” he reasons.

A former BTCC racer himself, Lines competed in the inaugural season of TCR UK in 2018 when grid sizes hovered around 10 cars. The following year he took over the promotion, initially incorporat­ed within the Touring Car Trophy, which allowed other two-litre tin-top machinery. But since 2022, TCR UK has stood on its own two feet once more, with grids regularly topping 20 cars.

The past two TCR UK champions are former BTCC racers, so how different are the cars to drive? Carl Boardley, last year’s title winner, has driven versions of the Cupra Leon in TCR and NGTC guises and says: “With a BTCC car, it has to be on the edge of throwing you off in the gravel at all times. That’s the only way you can get a time out of a BTCC car. These TCR cars, although they do have the same characteri­stics and work in the same sort of way, you don’t have to have them quite on that limit and on that edge. They’re definitely a bit more forgiving.”

A TCR UK promotiona­l push last year, including public grid walks at several rounds, brought a larger spectator presence. Lines is promising more of the same for 2024, along with the introducti­on of a Saturday afternoon race to make triple-header weekends the norm (except at the one-day Oulton Park meeting), and further boosts for competitor­s.

“We’re slowly but surely making it a little bit better,” explains Lines. “The viewing figures have gone up, the spectating figures have gone up. We’ve got grid walks this year at every round. There’s going to be fixed [dedicated] testing on the Fridays. And then we’ve got more races – we’ve gone from 15 to 20.”

The third race effectivel­y replaces free practice, making better use of track time, while any fears of increased running costs are further allayed by the plan for tyre allocation­s to remain unchanged. Prize money for 2024 – a popular introducti­on last year – has yet to be announced, but all registered drivers will receive a package of engine and gearbox oil from sponsor Liqui Moly. Further incentive for drivers of older machinery comes with the introducti­on of the Gen 1 Cup.

A largely consistent package of support series will feature throughout the 2024 season, with the British Racing & Sports Car Club’s Audi TT Cup and Fiesta ST240 championsh­ip joining last season’s regulars, Civic Cup and Fiesta

Junior. As well as benefiting from a higher profile, it helps teams running cars in multiple categories to spread their costs.

In a world of economic uncertaint­y, TCR UK looks to have carved its place in the market.

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