Craft-Bamboo chasing front runner to replace Pepe Oriola

Craft-Bamboo Racing are looking at fielding a refreshed line-up for the 2016 TCR International Series, with 2015 drivers’ championship runner-up Pepe Oriola all but confirmed to be joining closest rival Target Competition this year.

Oriola has still not confirmed his departure from Craft-Bamboo, but said to TouringCarTimes during the Macau finale with the speculation that he was Target bound, if he did leave the team, it would be a commercial factor. In this case the opportunity to drive for new manufacturer Opel, which are believed to be partnering with the Italian team for 2016.

At Craft-Bamboo, Russian driver Sergey Afanasyev is set to be retained by the squad, with gas company Lukoil staying on as the team’s chief sponsor, while team principal Richard Coleman has confirmed to TouringCarTimes that negotiations are still ongoing for the remaining seats in the team, with Jordi Gené still in the frame.

“We’re looking for a driver who can fight at the front and fill Pepe’s shoes, but obviously budget is also a consideration,” said Coleman. The team are considering front runners from TCR while plans are still in flux across the field, but are also looking further afield, such as top national championships such as the BTCC.

The Silverstone & Hong Kong-based team are also likely to continue with the SEAT León Cup Racer, though the variety of manufacturers on the grid is set to change in 2016 with more cars available from Volkswagen, Peugeot, Subaru, Alfa Romeo and Honda. SEAT are also keeping pace with their rivals with a new upgrade package for the Cup Racer which includes a Sadev sequential gearbox and an improved cooling system.