The fifth event of the TCR International Series will take place this weekend at the Salzburgring, the high-speed track that lies in the superb setting of the Austrian Alps.
This is one the most demanding circuit for Touring Car drivers, because its combination of long straights with fast corners and a tricky chicane always results in the fastest average speed of the season and significant wear of the front left tyres.
The circuit was built in 1968 inside a narrow valley and its layout underwent very few changes since, although the pit building and paddock were rebuilt a few years ago. For many years (1971/1994) it was home of the Motorcycling Austrian GP and hosts the TCR International Series for the second time.
Actually this is the first time so far in the current season that TCR drivers return on a track they visited last year.
The event kicks off on Saturday, with two 30-minute Practice sessions and the Qualifying, split in Q1 (20 minutes) and Q2 (10 minutes, for the twelve fastest in Q1).
A ten-minute shakedown will take place on Sunday morning, followed by the two back-to-back races.
TCR in Salzburgring – the event at a glance
Lap distance: 4.24 km
Race distance: 15 laps
Grids: determined by Qualifying results (Q1+Q2) with top-10 reversed for Race
Stefano Comini to carry the maximum ballast
For the first time so far this season, 2015 TCR champion Stefano Comini will have to carry the maximum Success Ballast on board his Leopard Racing Volkswagen Golf Gti.
The Swiss was the best scorer in Imola, with a victory and a third place that, added to fourth in qualifying, brougth him 42 points that will result in 30 extra kilos for the Austrian event at the Salzburgring.
The current championship leader Pepe Oriola of Craft-Bamboo Lukoil, will keep on with the same 20-kilo ballast he had carried at Imola, while the 10 kilos for the third best scorer in Italy will be laden on Mikhail Grachev’s WestCoast Racing Honda Civic.
With these Success Ballasts added to the BoP, the running weights of the three cars will be: 1315 kg for Comini’s Volkswagen Golf, 1345 kg for Oriola’s SEAT León and 1335 kg for Grachev’s Honda Civic.
Cerruti and Fulín will drive two Alfa Romeo cars
After skipping the two previous events in Spa and Imola, Mulsanne Racing will rejoin the TCR International Series this weekend in Austria. At the Salzburgring, the Italian team doubles its commitment and fields two Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR cars, with Petr Fulín joining the team’s regular driver Michela Cerruti.
During the latest month the Romeo Ferraris engineering company has worked flat out to both develop the Giulietta TCR and build a second car. This phase was completed by a successful test yesterday at Cervesina’s Tazio Nuvolari circuit, where Cerruti and Fulín took the wheel of the two cars that have been significantly upgraded since the latest appearance at Estoril and painted in a bright red.
Said Cerruti: “The team has worked a lot to improve performance, aerodynamics and handling. The most important changes are about the front suspension and the front part of the bodywork, with a new splitter and larger cooling intakes. During yesterday’s test the car proved to be faster and reliable. We will see how much we have improved only when we face the competitors on the track, but I am moderately optimist.”
Twice winner of the FIA European Touring Car Cup (2013 and 2014), Fulín drove the Alfa for the first time. The Czech driver has built himself a solid reputation in Touring Car competitions, and over the last two seasons has switched to front-wheel drive, racing a SEAT León TCR in the ETCC; he was runner up last year and is currently leading the standings.
“Running a second car was one of our goals, and I believe that having an experienced driver like Petr will help the team to make a further step ahead,” Cerruti added.
WestCoast Racing signs Harald Proczyk for his home race
After running its third Honda Civic car for Alain Menu at Imola, WestCoast Racing has signed another experienced driver, the Austrian Harald Proczyk, for this weekend’s race meeting at the Salzburgring.
Proczyk, who was born 41 years ago in Knittelfeld, nearby the Red Bull Ring, has established himself as one of the most experienced and successful Austrian drivers in recent years. His career has spanned from the early years in one-make trophies to the latest seasons in GT racing.
The Austrian has claimed a great deal of race victories and has fought several times for the titles in the German Ford Fiesta Cup, MINI Challenge and GT Masters, but also in the FIA European GT3 Championship and the Blancpain Endurance Series.
During the current season, Proczyk is racing in the new ADAC TCR Germany at the wheel of a SEAT Le ó n and, during the series latest event at the Sachsenring, he was victorious in the first race and jumped on top of the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Team manager James Rogers commented: “We are very pleased to offer Harald Proczyk the opportunity to take part in his home event at the wheel of a competitive car. We are very much looking forward to working with him, as we know he’s a fast driver. He may be a rookie in the International Series, but has already proved to be a winner in TCR Germany. It is also an opportunity for our team to showcase the performance of the Honda Civic TCR.”
And Proczyk added: “I’m very excited to discover the TCR International Series that is a step upward compared to the national series. I know that the team is very professional and I am curious to find out the potential of the Honda Civic. I need to focus on driving a front-wheel driven car at the limit again, because I have just raced the Nürburgring 24 Hours in a Porsche. And on top of this I need to get used to the Michelin tyres and get my bearings on the track again, as I haven’t raced at the Salzburgring since six or seven years. But I am relaxed and I want to enjoy this experience.”
Florian Janits joins Liqui Moly Team Engstler
Young Austrian racer Florian Janits will join the Liqui Moly Team Engstler for his home event of the TCR International Series, this weekend at the Salzburgring.
The 18-year old driver is facing his first experience in a front-wheel driven touring car, as he has only raced in karting and single seaters (Formula Renault and Formula 4) so far.
“I’m very much looking forward to this opportunity!” he said. “I have only raced formula cars in previous years, where I learned a lot. So being back on the track in the TCR International Series makes me very excited. I have never raced a front-wheel driven touring car before, but this does not worry me at all! And the good news is that I know the track well, having raced with the Lechner Racing School in 2014 and 2015. My expectations are getting used to the car as fast as possible, becoming familiar with the team and making the best out of my possibilities!”
Janits will team with Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s regular Davit Kajaia who has just claimed his first podium result in the series by finishing third in Imola’s Race 1.
Live streaming and timing from Salzburgring
Both live streaming and timing from Salzburgring will be available on the websites www.tcr-series.com and www.tcr-series.tv
The live timing will cover all the sessions and races from Saturday morning, while the second Free Practice, Qualifying and both races will be streamed live.
Broadcasting will begin on Saturday at 11:50 for the second practice session that will be followed by Qualifying at 14:50; the streaming of Race 1 will begin at 12:20, while Race 2 will be shown from 13:55 (all times CET).