TCR Europe paddock excited by 2023 calendar, wary other series may clash
The TCR Europe paddock has reacted warmly to the reveal of next year’s calendar, although few are firm enough in their 2023 plans to be able to comment on if they will continue in the series.
Last Sunday, a seven-round calendar was unveiled that bares a strong resemblance to this year’s schedule but drops two DTM support slots to become a full-time support series to International GT Open on its tour of FIA Grade 1-rated venues.
Although moving away from the DTM may make instances like the recent Nürburgring fiasco easier to avoid, it does however mean there will be no races in Germany and that is a shame for the German Halder Motorsport team.
“I don’t know the clashes from other series but we have again nice tracks in the calendar, so tracks are very nice. We will see what we do, and what we can line up for next year,” Mike Halder said to TouringCarTimes.
His sister Michelle pointed out that her knowledge of the Red Bull Ring, which returns to the calendar, from ADAC TCR Germany would be beneficial.
Sébastien Loeb Racing’s John Filippi, who claimed pole and won in Race 1 at Monza last weekend, said “the calendar looks very nice with very interesting tracks” but that it was “too soon” to say if he would do TCR Europe next year, while RC2 Junior Team’s presence will be determined by the interest of its drivers and they have eyes on racing elsewhere first.
“I see the calendar but I’m not sure if [we race], because we want to do the Italian championship,” Rubén Fernández explained. “The Italian and the European, right now there are two races that clash. So let’s see what happens on that…”
He and his brother Felipe will definitely be racing with RC2 again next year, and “again we’ll try to do European and the Italian”, so along with the team’s third driver Sergio López are likely to repeat their part-time campaign of 2022.
Janík Motorsport’s plans are in limbo while Mat’o Homola recovers from injury, the Monza weekend’s star debutant Michele Imberti – who finished fifth in Race 2, could only offer a “maybe” to whether the 2023 calendar would encourage him to make more TCR Europe appearances, and the title-leading combination of Franco Girolami and Comtoyou Racing also had an eye on date clashes with other series.
“I don’t know if we will have clashes with the World Touring Car Cup because we don’t have any calendar for WTCR,” said Comtoyou Racing team principal Jean-Michel Baert.
“It’s fixed for the TCR Europe, we can work on that, and yes, for me I enjoy this championship, I enjoy the team and I would like to come back and we have certainly some titles to defend!”
This year Comtoyou has run the top drivers in the Rookie and Diamond Trophy classifications, and also leads the points in the tables for drivers and teams. It has already set off-season targets too, saying: “Everybody must improve, we have to learn also the car, and we have to learn the wet tyre. We were not very good [in Race 1 here] with the wet tyres, so we have to work on it.”
Points leader Girolami was full of praise for the 2023 TCR Europe schedule.
“It’s amazing. This year’s calendar is also amazing. We had Spa, Barcelona, Paul Ricard. So many legendary circuits and very challenging for the driver. It’s going to be very good to keep the same circuits, and obviously Red Bull Ring I didn’t know, but for sure it should be a very, very nice circuit for the TCR cars.
“For me [to combine WTCR and TCR Europe next year], it would be amazing. Not only for me, obviously for me if I can arrive in the WTCR it is like a dream come true. I arrived 15 months ago here in Europe with nothing, and now we are leading and very near to win the championship in European. So to go in WTCR for me is going to be the dream come true. So I am working for that. For me it’s going to be obviously amazing if I can do both championships.”
The only person capable of stopping Girolami from becoming TCR Europe champion is Target Competition’s 2019 champion Josh Files.
“I mean it looks like a nice calendar, I hope it will be lovely,” he said of 2023. “Whether I’ll be there, I don’t know. But let’s hope so.”
When TouringCarTimes asked if that could mean he will race in a different TCR series, he replied “I don’t know, I have to have discussions later”.