Key target for TCR Australia is to give young drivers world championship chance
TCR Australia has the potential to become a viable, cost-effective touring car ladder series for the next generation of Australian drivers, according to its series manager Matt Braid.
Ahead of a TCR promoters meeting today in Barcelona, where former Supercars managing director Braid was also in attendance for the TCR Europe season-finale, the series manager expressed delighted at the level of interest the new championship has generated back home.
Braid has received notes of interest from several teams and drivers from the Supercars championship ahead of its inaugural season next year.
Hyundai has already delivered two of its i30 N TCR cars to Australia, while Braid also revealed he has been in contact with almost all TCR-associated manufacturers.
And despite the popularity of Supercars, Braid remains unconcerned about the introduction of a second touring car championship run in Australia for the first in 13 years.
“Everyone has heard of the announcement and there’s a certain amount of excitement of the back of it. There’s obviously a lot of categories in Australia, so they [public and motorsport figures] are fairly sceptical of any new ones,” Braid told TouringCarTimes.
“They know what TCR is but [they’re asking] ‘is it happening, where are the cars, when is the calendar [announced]?’ We’ve taken a bit of time to get the information out there but the interest is building and as we’ve been able to talk to the prospective teams, we’re getting close to finalising the championship.
“Of course, we’re not aiming to compete with Supercars, as this will still be the pinnicle of Australian touring cars, but the message is getting out there about TCR to the point where we’re getting Supercars teams and drivers approach us as an alternative programme.”
When asked by TouringCarTimes as to whether TCR Australia could act as a viable, inexpensive feeder series to Supercars, Braid said he was open to the idea of his series helping drivers with tighter budgets climb the touring car ladder.
“Supercars has its feeder series and structure, it’s well supported but it’s expensive. Supercars, Super2 and even Carrera Cup in Australia, they’re quite expensive categories. TCR being price capped and the running costs being well contained, it’s a very cost-effective category to get into,” said Braid.
In addition to helping develop future domestic stars, Braid said that one of the most important attributes of TCR Australia, is that it will give ambitious home-grown talent a chance to prove their worth on the international, for a fraction of the cost, as well as attracting foreign stars to its own series.
He said: “The other thing we’re trying to communicate is that Supercars are very difficult to drive, and the drivers are very specialised.
“TCR is an international formula and we’re getting drivers come to us and say ‘if I can drive a TCR car well in Australia, then I can drive one anywhere in the world’. And by nature, the TCR cars are transportable and it can attract foreign drivers.
“We’ve had lots of foreign drivers come and try Supercars and the championship has largely spat them out, so by having TCR cars easier to drive than Supercars and transportable, it’s a good business plan.
“From an Australian perspective, it’s probably fair to say that touring car racing probably finishes at Supercars, whereas TCR gives certainly young drivers the chance to win a world championship. That might be through Supercars or TCR, it’s not completely linear.”