Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

BRC Racing Team launch 2019 WTCR programme

The BRC Racing Team has launched its 2019 World Touring Car Cup programme and revealed the exact nature of Hyundai’s line-up for the season ahead.

Defending champion Gabriele Tarquini will run alongside Norbert Michelisz in the BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse line-up, with team newcomers Augusto Farfus and Nicky Catsburg partnering together under the BRC Hyundai N Lukoil Racing Team banner.

Lukoil had backed rival outfit WRT in the series last season, although the Russian energy giant has also worked with Tarquini in the past when he was campaigning a SEAT Leon in the World Touring Car Championship.

The new-look Hyundai i30 N TCRs broke cover during a launch event at BRCs headquarters, with the cars set to appear in their new look colours for the first time during testing in Barcelona next week.

The new season then gets underway in Morocco early next month, with BRC looking to challenge for both championship titles after a strong 2018 that saw Tarquini edge out fellow Hyundai driver Yvan Muller to the title, although the Italian outfit fell just three points shy of wrapping up the Teams’ Championship – which instead went to YMR.

“The 2019 FIA WTCR season is just around the corner and it looks set to be another highly competitive season,” Hyundai Motorsport Team Director Andrea Adamo said. “Over the winter break, we have supported our customer racing teams and drivers in their preparations. The i30 N TCR was incredibly successful in the series last year, which has set the benchmark for the season ahead.

“Both teams, and all four drivers, are worthy championship contenders, and we wish them all the best for the challenge ahead. We are under no illusions as to the challenge our customers will face but we are ready to support them every step of the way.”

Having secured the title last year, Tarquini admitted that he expected the new season to be at least as competitive on track as 2018; particularly the addition of new cars and drivers to the grid.

“It will be a very competitive season as we look to defend the title,” he said. “Honestly, I hope my closest challengers are the other drivers in the i30 N TCR! We saw last year how close the battle for the title was – coming down to the final laps of the year – and it will be the same in 2019. Everyone will have been working over the winter, and we have new rules of the series, new drivers and a new track to contend with before we reach the end of the season.”

Team-mate Michelisz meanwhile said his focus was firmly on trying to secure the title for himself having finished fourth in the standings last year.

“This year, I am aiming to win the title,” he said. “With what Gabriele achieved last year I know I am in the right car and the right team to be able to do it, but the FIA WTCR is very long, and so much can happen. It will be so important to be consistent. It’s going to be important to be the fastest of course, but at the same time it might also be the smartest driver who is celebrating at the end of the season.”

Brazilian racer Farfus will be making his debut in TCR machinery this season as he returns to the world stage, and the former BMW racer said he was confident of some strong results as he gets back behind the wheel of a front-wheel drive car for the first time since his Alfa Romeo days.

“Watching last year’s WTCR as a spectator was really fun – some of the best world-level Touring Cars I’ve seen for some time,” he said. “You could see from the results that the Hyundai was one of the best, if not the best, car in the category. As a driver you always want to be in the top series, in the most competitive car, so when the chance came up to drive the i30 N TCR with a customer team in 2019 it was an easy choice to join them. The season will bring some new challenges, but I think that we can face them with confidence and get some good results. ”

Catsburg will also be debuting in WTCR in the sister Lukoil-backed car, with race wins very much the aim for 2019.

“I’m really looking forward to going racing,” he said. “I saw some races last year, and it was always very close and very competitive. I think that the WTCR will suit my driving style quite well, and I’m excited for the season, especially thinking of the races at the Nürburgring to come. Above all, I’m looking forward to working with Augusto and the BRC Hyundai N Lukoil Racing Team to start taking points and race wins on track.”