Sunday, Jul 21 07:23pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Everything you need to know about TCR New Zealand in 2020

A whole host of pressing questions have been answered six months out from the start of the inaugural TCR New Zealand Series.


Calendars, costs and caps were among the details revealed on the eve of this year’s CRC Speedshow at ASB Showgrounds.


Led by newly appointed Category Manager Grant Smith and Australian Racing Group Director Matt Braid, prospective competitors and media were addressed at the series launch.


Present for the show were a pair of TCR cars from Audi and Hyundai as key showpieces for the weekend. Representatives of Wall Racing, HMO Customer Racing and Melbourne Performance Centre were in attendance as well to gauge interest.


Following the presentation velocitynews.co.nz spoke with Smith of the ANZ Motorsport Group to get the low down on what TCR will look like in 2020.


“We’re going to be very professional in terms of how we run it,” Smith said.


“It’s an international series with an international set of regulations and it’s an international commodity in terms of the car too.


“We’ll be very strict in terms of policing all the rules. That’s what we want and it’s what you want as a competitor. We’ve got to manage the series and protect the investment.”




Balance of Performance (BoP)


Parity has long been a contentious issue in New Zealand motor racing across numerous categories, but the international Balance of Performance is a proven success.


TCR runs their own BoP, which covers engine power level, target racing weight, compensation weight, BoP ballast, total minimum racing weight and ride height.


The engine power level ranges from a maximum of 102.5% to a minimum of 97.5%. Ride Height varies from 60mm to 90mm as does the BoP ballast between minus 60kg and plus 40kg.


The Compensation Weight is fixed at 60kg for all models on their first appearance, but it will be adjusted during the season by the CW Automatic Formula, based on the results of each championship.


The initial Total Minimum Racing Weights that come out from these calculations range from the 1225kg to the 1365kg.


CLICK HERE for 2019 baseline BoP details




What homologated TCR cars are eligible?


TCR New Zealand will only allow cars to enter that run sequential gearboxes. That decision has been made not only to mirror the TCR Australia rules but also to alleviate some of the BoP issues.


Historically cars that run Direct-Shift Gearboxes (DSG) have been slower than those with the sequential. Currently there are only three cars available with DSG gearboxes from Audi, Volkswagen and CUPRA (formerly SEAT).


Some early model TCR cars may not be allowed to compete either. Currently there are 13 marques and 21 models available to race in the series globally. That number is reduced to 18 when factoring in the removal of cars with DSQ gearboxes.


There is some confusion around the Honda Civic Type R, which has two variants; the FK1 and FK7. The FK1 (pictured above) is the older variation launched in 2015.



The pre-facelift (left) and facelift (right) Volkswagen Golf GTI that compete in TCR globally 


While it was said during the presentation that the FK1 may not be eligible for the series, velocitynews.co.nz has confirmed with TCR rights holders WSC Group that there is no expiration date for homologation cycles.


“Actually there is no expiration date for the homologation,” WSC Group Director of Communications Fabio Ravaioli said.


“It lasts until the relevant model is running in any TCR-certified series. This is one of the key points on which the category is founded: granting the models a long racing life in order to build a large market for used cars and spare parts. 


“A business for the manufacturers, but also a guarantee for the teams that theirs is a long term investment.”


CLICK HERE to see the current list of homologated cars


Smith confirmed that he “wouldn’t be making life difficult” for cars that potentially fall outside the homologation window. That may see a shift to allow the FK1 to enter, of which there is one currently racing in New Zealand.


One the gearbox front Smith said it’s the logical move to make to ensure the playing field is as even as possible.


“When you have sequentials and you have DSGs, in terms of the performance the DSG is not as quick as the sequential.


“This is all about fair and equitable racing. We don’t want people to buy a car and be disillusioned that they’re not performing well.


“Just from a simplicity side, it’s one gearbox and then there’s no issue. That’s the way most of the categories are going anyway.”




Five cars per brand, entries limited to 24


The first season of TCR New Zealand will come with a 24-car grid cap. That’s four more than what is run in TCR Australia, which had a grid of 19 cars for the third round at The Bend Motorsport Park.


Smith said while it’s not necessarily a goal, he can see there being a 20-car grid for the first round at Highlands Motorsport Park next year.


Another significant move to mirror the Australian series is to encourage field diversity. Five models per marque will be allowed. It’s hoped that will push some teams to get in early and grab their car of choice.


Already there’s some pressure with three Hyundai i30 N cars either in the country or on their way and a pair of Volkswagen Golf GTI cars based out of the South Island. However, whether all those cars will compete is unknown.


“If I got 24 cars I would be delighted,” he said.


“We’ll probably have some cars that come from Australia too. The other big thing for us is that we’ll have five cars per brand.


“At this stage Audi has already go three on the ground, Hyundai has three. It’s about trying to have as many manufacturers as possible.


“We want to encourage different brands to be a part of it. I think that’s one way that we can do that. We want people to think about getting a car now because you don’t want to leave it to the last minute.”




Initial, ongoing, and control costs


One question everyone has been wanting to know is how much it will cost to run in the series.


Brand new cars direct from the factory can cost anywhere between $185,000 to $225,000 sans spares. Additional spares packages can be brought from the manufacturer between $30,000 to $40,000. Used cars come at a reduced cost as low as $100,000 plus GST and shipping depending on age. Used cars can be an enticing prospect with several on the market made available with spares too.


Organisers estimate that it will cost between $125,000 and $150,000 to just run the five-round series. The series is also encouraging participants to buy cars in endurance specification so they can run in the sanctioned endurance series.


Entry fees will be slated at a fixed rate of $3,000. That includes MotorSport New Zealand fees, international licensing fees, pit garages and a yet to be announced live television broadcast package.


The series will use a GT3 Cup-style Michelin tyre that will cost $600 +GST and teams will be restricted to using just eight tyres per round.


A fuel supplier is still to be confirmed, but what is know is that the series will run on a 98 race fuel rather an a 98 pump fuel.


Crucially, the series has confirmed that engine rebuilds must be done by original supplier, which means either sending them back to the manufacturer or a verified distributor like Melbourne Performance Centre in Australia for Audi.


The series estimates that services should take place around 7,000 km and rebuilds at 12,000 km, which is roughly two seasons worth of sprint racing.


“I think the numbers are realistic and fair when you consider that this is a real race car, we’ve tried to be reasonable.


“At the end of the day it’s a serious car with serious components. By international standards it is cost effective.”




Race formats and calendars


TCR New Zealand will follow the global standard for race format. The weekend will consist of two official Free Practice sessions on Friday, which will run for 30 minutes each.


Saturday morning will see one Qualifying session followed by one race in the afternoon. On Sunday two races will take place to conclude the weekend. Across every race weekend the races will last for 30 minutes apiece.


It is expected the races will all be broadcast live on television, however, the broadcast deal hasn’t been announced as yet.


The inaugural sprint season will see a five-round calendar that follows the Castrol Toyota Racing Series in 2020. It will begin at Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell over 17-19 January. It’ll then head to the southernmost circuit in the world, Teretonga Park, at Invercargill over 24-26 January.


The series then completes a three-round North Island tour starting at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in the North Waikato over 31 January-2 February.


The penultimate round is slated for 7-9 February, however, the location hasn’t been decided yet. The round will either be held at Pukekohe Park in Auckland or at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupō.




The series will conclude at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in Feilding as part of the headlining bill alongside the New Zealand Grand Prix.


When asked about the strain that could put on new teams and drivers Smith said: “The reality is we have to work within some of the constraints we have.


“To enable us to do certain things we needed to make it reasonably compact to encourage international competitors.


“There will be some logistical challenges and we’ll have to do some work to make sure parts are here.


“There will also be opportunities after that to race in Australia and opportunities to do endurance racing so that whatever floats your boat, we’ve got options for you.


“We’ll see. It’s year one. If it’s super successful then we’ll continue with that but if it’s not we’ll evaluate in a year.


“We have to stick a stake in the ground based on our experience and knowledge and see how we go. It may not be everyone’s perfect solution.


“Genuinely we’re super excited. I feel quietly confident that we’re going to make this series amazing and we’re committed 100 per cent.”


2020 TCR New Zealand Sprint Series Calendar


Round Circuit Date
1 Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell 17–19 January
2 Teretonga Park, Invercargill 24–26 January
3 Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato   31 January–2 February
4 TBC (Pukekohe or Taupō) 7–9 February 
5 Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon, Feilding 14–16 February


2020 TCR New Zealand Endurance Calendar (Provisional)


Round Circuit Date
1 TBC (North Island)   April
2 TBC (North Island) May
3 TBC (South Island) October
4 TBC (South Island) November


Photos: Daniel Kalisz