The paddock is where teams, race organisers and race officials call home on a Touring Car Racing (TCR) race weekend. Normally located next to the track and pit lane, it’s where teams prepare their cars for the weekend, host their hospitality, and arrange media sessions. For fans with passes, the paddock is a perfect opportunity to get behind the scenes and look out for their favourite drivers and personalities.
Since their introduction in 2014, TCR regulations have proved to be a popular addition to touring car series around the world. Cars must adhere to strict technical regulations to be homologated – this way, it becomes more cost-effective for competitors while keeping the racing as close as possible.
The pit lane is located adjacent to the track to allow easy entry and exit for all participating race cars. Competitors use the pit lane to gain direct access to their garages, where mechanics carry out work on the car. It’s not compulsory to make a pit stop in TCR, but if a driver has been involved in an incident they may have to come in for repairs. During all sessions, the pit lane must be kept clear of personnel for safety reasons.
Touring Car Racing (TCR) was established in 2015. Once a car has been homologated by the FIA for TCR racing, it can be in national, regional, international and endurance championships across the globe. Cars must adhere to the strict TCR technical regulations, designed to provide close and exciting racing while keeping costs low. There are now more than 600 TCR cars competing in 30 different TCR championships
A touring car is a four or five-door production vehicle, powered by a two-litre turbocharged engine. Based on the road-going model, the bodywork and suspension tend to remain as production spec, with modifications made to the brakes and aerodynamics to make the car compliant with TCR regulations. Success ballasts are added to the three best performing cars from the previous event, and all cars are subject to Balance of Performance (BoP) adjustments.
All TCR (Touring Car Racing) cars must adhere to strict FIA and TCR technical regulations. A team of FIA technical officials carries out thorough checks of competing vehicles before, during and after each event. If a car doesn’t pass these checks, the driver and team could be handed penalties or even face disqualification.
Balance of Performance (BoP) is a system used to level the playing field between the cars to make the racing more competitive. The same BoP rules apply across WTCR and all TCR series. The FIA and TCR technical departments define the parameters at the start of the season for competitors and can make adjustments to the weight of a car, engine performance level and apply any technical restrictions it deems necessary.
The team and driver who has scored the most points is awarded the respective titles. In the battle of the teams, only the top two cars classified per team per round will take home the points. The top five in qualifying gain extra points ranging from 5 to 1, with 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 awarded to the top ten finishers in each race.
Located next to the pit lane, the garage is the epicentre of the action before the cars hit the track. Mechanics will be busy carrying out work on the car, changing tyres and maybe even taking a sneaky look at the competition. Special guests of the team can also be found in the garage watching the action.
Practice makes perfect as they say. Free Practice sessions are an ideal opportunity for teams and drivers to learn the track and test out qualifying and race settings – particularly important for rookie drivers and new tracks! There are two Free Practice sessions each TCR race weekend.
Getting the best possible qualifying result can hugely impact chances of victory on race day. One two-part qualifying session determines the order in which drivers start a race. The twelve fastest drivers in Q1 (Qualifying 1) compete for pole position in Q2 (Qualifying 2). Race 1 uses the grid in qualifying order; Race 2 reverses the top 10 fastest cars from the session.
After the qualifying sessions and races, competitors must bring their cars into the restricted parc ferme area – literally meaning ‘closed park’ in French. Here, the cars are scrutineered by the stewards. Only race organisers and stewards have access to this area. No work is permitted on the cars by mechanics and team personnel in parc ferme without the express permission of the officials.
The tin-top action is most exciting in race mode. Cars battle side-by-side up and down the field, ensuring close racing on every single lap until the chequered flag. There are two races in every TCR round, with the number of laps differing each time. Those all-important world cup points awarded to the top-ten finishers of each race.
The grid is the formation in which cars will start a race. In Touring Car Racing (TCR), cars line up two per each row. The grid positions are determined in qualifying, but they can change if a penalty or disqualification is applied. For fans lucky enough to be in possession of a grid walk pass, it’s an unrivaled opportunity to witness those last-minute preparations before the start of a race.
Reverse grids are notorious in touring car races. They can increase the on-track entertainment by mixing up the starting order. In TCR, only the top ten fastest cars are reversed for the second race of the weekend. It’s a great opportunity for teams and drivers to demonstrate they are capable of battling their way through the field to claim podiums and victories.
Flags are used to signal specific instructions to drivers. A yellow flag is waved to warn drivers to slow down because of an incident or obstruction. A red flag halts a session because of an incident or poor weather. The green flag signals the start of the race, or an obstruction cleared. The chequered flag is shown at the end of the race. It’s imperative that competitors follow the instruction given to ensure safety while racing.
One of the most important members of the team. Race Engineers work with the driver to set up the car for qualifying and race sessions. They feed back data to ensure the driver can improve next time out, identify and iron out any issues that arise on the car and make crucial strategy calls.
The first position on the grid, known as pole position, is usually reserved for the driver who has set the fastest lap in qualifying, with the exception of reversed grids. A strong qualifying gives a driver the best possible start on race day, offering a clear run to the first corner with minimal need to overtake rivals – provided a driver has had a good start.
All Touring Car Racing (TCR) teams receive their tyres from the sole supplier to the series. Dry and wet weather tyres are made available to the teams, with a limitation on how many can be used at each event. Teams are responsible for ensuring the tyres fit properly and do not infringe technical regulations.
A lap is a single, complete rotation of a track. Most circuit-based races are measured by the number of laps drivers must complete before the race is declared to be finished. In qualifying, drivers compete to set the fastest lap time to win the coveted pole position. A lap record is the fastest time ever to be set at a track.
Touring Car Racing (TCR) competes on a variety of tracks. These are normally tarmac, but surfaces vary event-to-event based on circuit organisers, use and wear. Street circuits often mix public and race-ready surfaced track. Different tracks pose different challenges to teams and drivers, including speed, elevation, corner angles and run off areas.
A safety car is used to limit track speeds and control the pace of the field, usually brought out for an incident or obstructions on track. Competitors must remain behind the safety car and cannot overtake the pace car or rivals. Safety car periods can certainly spice up the racing as it allows the pack to close up. When the safety car period ends, drivers battle to get the best start and use it as a prime opportunity to make up positions.