Photo: TCR Media

Pepe Oriola leads as TCR gets ready for Singapore night race

The TCR International Series is getting ready for its visit to Singapore at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, where the championship will be part of the support package of the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Just after the Formula One qualifying session, the TCR field will battle it out in the streets of Singapore, making it the first night race in the history of the championship.

With the debut of the new Subart WRX, driven by Luca Rangoni, the tight fight for the championship is not the only reason of interest in the Asian weekend. The Japanese car, built by Italian powerhouse Top Run, will make its debut on the street track along with 23 more cars, a record field for the championship, as the TCR Asia Series joins the International racers.

New series leader Pepe Oriola knows he needs to score points and avoid risks if he is to continue his title fight from the top of the standings. “I hope to achieve a good result this weekend to continue leading the drivers’ championship,” said Oriola. “We will share this event with the Formula One and this is something that contributes greatly to the worldwide recognition of the TCR International Series program. I want to enjoy this moment, but I cannot ignore that in the remaining races all the competitors will be going for it. I have to get the maximum points in each race and I have to avoid unnecessary risks on the track. Nothing has been decided in this championship yet. If I repeat my last performance, I could be even closer to my dream of taking the title.”

Stefano Comini, who gets to Singapore in second place, two points shy of the leader, will try to get his SEAT León Racer on the podium and even go for wins, despite carrying 20 kilos of success ballast following success at the Red Bull Ring, the last European race of the year. The Target Competition driver hopes to get the championship lead back, and with just two points separating him and Oriola, it is not an impossible mission for the Swiss driver.

With Oriola carrying 30 kilos of ballast, Craft-Bamboo Lukoil team-mate Jordi Gené will have an advantage over his compatriot, as his car will be laden with 10 kilos of ballast. After a slow start of the season, the SEAT driver is now only 24 points behind the leader, and will try to get the maximum out of his chances: “I am really motivated for the race in Singapore,” admitted the Spaniard. “It will be a new circuit for everyone, but street circuits are good for my driving style and for this race I will be carrying less ballast than my rivals, so it will be a perfect race to shave some points and get closer to the lead. The team had some time to work with the SEAT Leon and I am convinced we will be even more competitive. Also racing with F1 gives me the opportunity to share circuit with my brother Marc, during the year we have little times to get together and this will be one of them.”

12.07.2015 - Race 2, Jordi Gené (ESP) SEAT León, Team Craft-Bamboo LUKOIL
Craft-Bamboo Lukoil CEO Richard Coleman added: “It is fantastic to be here in Singapore and to be able to compete on this amazing street circuit and witness the first ever TCR International Series night race. We currently lead the drivers’ championship and we are firmly focused on capturing the teams’ championship lead this weekend as well. Having both the International and Asian programs together, while supporting the Formula One is a fantastic opportunity and shows just how important this series is in the world of motorsport.”

After a controversial penalty issued at the Red Bull Ring, which took a win out of his hands after Race 1, Honda’s Gianni Morbidelli no longer believes he can take the championship unless something special happens. On the other hand, WestCoast Racing team-mate Kevin Gleason has a lot of enthusiasm towards the upcoming weekend, as the Morbidelli-Gleason-Münnich trio which took a 1-2-3 in Shanghai reforms: “It’s a real privilege and opportunity to race on the streets of Singapore and to be supporting Formula 1 for the third time,” said Gleason. “It will certainly be a new experience racing at night in front of thousands of fans on a street circuit, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them in what will be a spectacular event. It is also great to have René Münnich back with us for this round and Thailand, after the memorable one-two-three we achieved in China earlier this year and I cannot wait to get back in the car and go racing this weekend.”

The weekend will start on Friday at 15.00 local time for the 25-minutes Free Practice session 1, with the second following almost immediately at 15.50. Action will then resume on Saturday with the usual qualifying format, starting at 15.45 local time, with the thrilling night-time Race 1 scheduled for 22.25. The second and final race of the weekend will take place on Sunday at 16.35. All times are local.

TCR International & Asia Series – Singapore Entry List

No – Driver – Nat – Team – Car – Ballast
4 – Tomas Engström – SWE – Liqui Moly Team Engstler – Volkswagen Golf TCR
7 – Lorenzo Veglia – ITA – Liqui Moly Team Engstler – SEAT León Cup Racer
8 – Mikhail Grachev – RUS – Liqui Moly Team Engstler – Volkswagen Golf TCR
10 – Gianni Morbidelli – ITA – WestCoast Racing – Honda Civic TCR
13 – Kenneth Ma – HKG – FRD Ford HK Racing – Ford Focus ST
15 – Loris Hezemans – NED – Target Competition – SEAT León Cup Racer
22 – Fernando Monje – ESP – Campos Racing – Opel Astra OPC
23 – René Munnich – GER – WestCoast Racing – Honda Civic TCR
24 – Kevin Gleason – USA – WestCoast Racing – Honda Civic TCR
25 – Stefano Comini – SUI – Target Competition – SEAT León Cup Racer +20kg
35 – Rafael Galiana – FRA – Target Competition – SEAT León Cup Racer
38 – Kenneth Lau – HKG – Prince Racing – Honda Civic TCR
44 – Mak Hing Tak – HKG – Campos Racing – Opel Astra OPC
51 – Luca Rangoni – ITA – Top Run Motorsport – Subaru WRX STi TCR
56 – Samson Chan – HKG – Roadstar Racing Team – SEAT León Cup Racer
66 – Filipe de Souza – MAC – Roadstar Racing Team – SEAT León Cup Racer
68 – Michael Choi – HKG – Prince Racing – Honda Civic TCR +10kg
74 – Pepe Oriola – ESP – Craft-Bamboo – SEAT León Cup Racer +30kg
77 – Sergey Afanasyev – RUS – Craft-Bamboo – SEAT León Cup Racer
88 – Jordi Gené – ESP – Craft-Bamboo – SEAT León Cup Racer +10kg
97 – George Chou – TPE – Roadstar Racing Team – SEAT León Cup Racer
99 – Frank Yu – HKG – Craft-Bamboo – SEAT León Cup Racer

TCR International & Asia Series – Singapore Timetable

Friday 18th September

15:00 – Free Practice 1
15:50 – Free Practice 2

Saturday 19th September

15:45 – Qualifying
22:25 – Race 1 (25 mins)

Sunday 20th September

16:30 – Race 2 (25 mins)