TCR NEWS

Asia Racing Team showed its strength at Macao TCR Challenge

29 May 2017

With blazing hot weather, the 2017 AAMC Challenge 1950cc was running in Zhuhai International Circuit last weekend. Asia Racing Team got two drivers, both from HK, to join the race, #16 Stephen Lee and #56 Rickson Chan, who were in Group A&B respectively, to compete the qualifying.

Round 1  After a promising practice on Friday and Saturday morning, the two drivers were in good shape and headed to the pre-qualifying session with confidence. Stephen ended up being within the top20 and continued to compete in the next round of qualifying; Rickson however, had to close his race early that day due to an unfortunate spin in the qualifying session.

Race 1 was held in the afternoon. Stephen finished the second qualifying without a hitch and entered into the 12-lap heat duration. In the end, he managed to put his car in 22nd Position out of 40 drivers in Race 1 with a fastest lap of 1:47.792 in that session.

Round 2   On the last day of the Challenge, the drivers warmed themselves up in the morning and bounced into qualifying together. Rickson was apparently in an improving state and got his fastest lap time so far (1:47.462) and with Stephen’s stability, both of them successfully positioned top20 and entered into the final 12-lap of the race. 

Race 2 was a bit chaotic during the first few laps and it was really all about surviving out there. Stephen got a better position than in the first race and managed to cross the finish line in 13th position. Sister car driven by Rickson ended up being at P23 at the finish line.

Macao Touring Car Challenge will be back in Zhuhai on the 24th and 25th of June and will finish in Macao at the end of November for the prestigious Macao Grand Prix.


Asia Racing Team’s SEAT impress at Circuit Hero 500 debut

Asia Racing Team’s SEAT Léon TCR endurance racing baptism went perfectly as both cars have run flawless in this weekend’s "Circuit Hero 500".

Beijing’s Yang Xi and TCR Asia Series Vice-Champion Rodolfo Avila were Class A P6 at the flag, and Hong Kong trio Thomas Ng, Keith Luk and Samuel Law finished fifth in the "2.000cc and above" category. The two Pakelo branded SEAT Léon TCR were the quickest touring cars out there on Saturday’s Qualifying.

Yang Xi qualified P12 overall, and third of Class A. Hit by a puncture Thomas Ng still managed to qualify fourth in Class A and P13 overall. Starting from P12, just behind the GT and Prototype opposition, Yang Xi and Avila knew from the beginning that would be hard to beat his two main class opponents in normal conditions.

Starting driver Yang Xi enjoyed a stellar opening stint, rising from 12th to run as high as eight overall. That pace continued and improved as Avila took over, briefly snatching the class second position and consistently running in the top three. With a need to preserve rubber, Yang Xi returned to the cockpit and carefully nursed the available tyres throughout his second stint.

With forty minutes remaining, Avila returned to the car intent on making up places, including racing on track the faster Class A cars. Lapping as fast as the front-running class cars, Avila pushed ART’s SEAT to complete the race in 12th overall and sixth in class.

"That was tough out there because of the traffic, but a lot of fun too. We knew we couldn’t beat the Caterham R500 and the Lotus if nothing wrong happened to them, so the three place is great result in the end. Yang Xi was running at the class pace and the guys in the pits were supreme", said Avila.

A gravel incursion in the beginning of the second hour, that cost three laps to the team, and a long first pit-stop when a wheel got stuck did not prevent Thomas Ng, Keith Luk and Samuel Law to perform well, finishing 5th in Class A and 17th overall on a 44-car field. The Hong Kong trio had their first TCR machinery contact only this week and the #8 SEAT was among the quickest cars in the class.

"It was a wonderful start of 2016! Despite the 200km/h tire puncture in qualifying, and the wheel that wouldn’t come off during first pit stop, we still managed to finish the race. Thanks everyone in the team for the support. It was a great experience", added Ng.

Team Champion’s Asia Racing Team will now start the preparation of the two SEAT Léon TCR for the second season of the TCR Asia Series that kicks off on May 14/15 at the Korea International Circuit.


Asia Racing Team Wins Teams’ Title

Asia Racing Team won the inaugural TCR Asia Series teams’ title and capped a winning year with a double win result at the Macau Grand Prix’s Guia Race 2.0T.

Former Porsche Carrera Cup Asia vice-champion Rodolfo Avila and Hong Kong’s Sam Lok represented the Macau born Zhuhai based racing team for the season finale at Circuito da Guia.

Asia Racing Team duo was left with opposing thoughts after qualifying on Saturday. Avila praised the team for doing ‘a very good job’ by getting into Q2, qualifying first of the TCR Asia Series competitors, while Lok had been ruled out by the stewards after setting times outside of the 107% barrier.

Sunday races saw a series of crashes depleting the field. Avila’s cautious strategy paid off handsomely. The local ace powered by Pakelo Lubricants was 12th overall at the flag in the first race and 5th overall in the second race, winning twice the TCR Asia race.

Avila combined points vaulted Asia Racing Team to the top of the teams’ rankings and saw the successful conclusion to a season-long battle between the SEAT Léon TCR team and their closest challengers, the Prince Racing Honda squad.

In 9 rounds of series competition, Asia Racing Team drivers scored an impressive eleven podium results -- including three overall wins for Avila, two for one-time race-returnee Descombes and one for Thai touring car star Tin Sritrai.

Speaking about his race weekend, Avila said, "We had two crazy races out there. I was very cautious in both race starts because I was expecting a bit of mess before Lisboa Corner. I have been very lucky to escape unscathed too. I am happy with progress throughout the weekend. The team gave me a great car and I just had to manage my pace, knowing that was no point to take unnecessary risks. It is the best feeling to be able to share these results with everybody in the team."

Team Manager Philippe Descombes added, "Winning the teams’ title in the TCR Asia Series is a fantastic reward for all of our hard work. Thank you to all the drivers involved in this result - Rodolfo, Tin, Kevin and Liu Lic Ka - and congratulations to all of the teams we battled. I’m already looking forward to seeing how everyone in TCR Asia Series steps it up next year."

Asia Racing adds the TCR Asia Series teams’ title to an already impressive list of 2015 accomplishments. Team drivers and instructors Avila and Descombes brought home the drivers’ vice-championship and second runner-up.

The two SEAT Léon TCR are on its way to Zhuhai International Circuit where the team will start the pre-season testing soon.

 

Photo Courtesy of Chi Wai


ART enters Ávila and Sam Lok in Macau Guia Race

The Asia Racing Team has entered Rodolfo Ávila and Sam Lok Chi Kit in the final race meeting of the TCR International and TCR Asia series at Macau’s Circuito da Guia.

Born in Portugal, Ávila has established himself as one of the most successful racing driver from Macau and since 2009 has emerged as one of the title contenders in the competitive Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. Earlier this year he had the opportunity to drive one of the Asia Racing Team’s SEAT León, winning the opening round of the TCR Asia at Sepang.

“The Guia Race is very special for Macau drivers and I am no exception. I know the circuit pretty well, but this is only the second time I race in a touring car. I’ll have to make some adaptations to my driving style, but I will put my head down and do the best I can do for the team that is fighting to win the TCR Asia Teams’ title," Ávila said.

Sam Lok, from Hong Kong, began racing two years ago in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia; he later competed in the Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific and the Volkswagen Scirocco Cup China, before returning to the Super Trofeo in which he was classified fourth in the AM Class in the current season.

Lok stated: “This will be only my second time at the Guia circuit. I am happy that Asia Racing Team and StarSpeed Racing offered me the opportunity to take part in this great event. I don’t have high expectations, but I’m looking forward to gain more experience in one of the most demanding circuits in the world. Just participating in the event is already a dream come true for a Hong Konger!”

Asia Racing Team’s drivers have won four out of the eight TCR Asia rounds held so far: Philippe Descombes (Races 2 and 3) and Ávila (Race 1) at Sepang, Tin Sritrai (Race 2) at Buriram.

 

Text Prepared by TCR International Series

Photo Courtesy of TCR International Series


Sritrai Wins With Pu Third

Asia Racing Team returned to the TCR Asia Series with a flourish, winning the second race of the weekend at the Chang International Circuit.

Thailand’s Tin Sritrai took one victory and a second-place. Pu Jun Jin finished his impressive series debut in third position in both races, extending Asia Racing Team lead in the teams’ championship standings.

The weekend started with mixed feelings during qualifying. Local hero Sritrai didn’t make it into Q2, qualifying P14 overall and second of the TCR Asia Series participants, while Pu Jun Jin qualified P18 overall and P4 of the Asian series. The Lady Luck was not on team’s side on Saturday. Sritrai had a slow puncture on his first new tires run as Pu Jun Jin lost his best lap time for not respecting the track limits.

Sunday’s Race One saw a chaotic race start in the middle of the field with both Asia Racing Team’s SEAT Léon TCR emerging miraculously unscathed. Sritrai lost one position to championship leader Michael Choi but the Thai racer won’t take long to overtake his opponent and get back his second place, putting a nice fight with Alain Menu and Gianni Morbidelli for the 12th place overall in the process. China’s Pu also showed a great pace, crossing the finish line in third position.

Sritrai’s SEAT Léon TCR took the honours in Race Two despite race-long pressure from his main rival Munkong Sathienthirakul, and a stewards penalty that made him to start from the back of the grid. He also managed to score points in the International Series, finishing 8th in Race 2.

Pu made a strong start off the line but he got hit by opponent in the opening stages, dropping to fifth. Despite being the only one of the top runners on used tires, Pu driver charged back from adversity to post a third-place finish.

Speaking about his race win, Sritrai said, “It was the first time for me with a front-wheel driven, turbocharged car. I am very happy of this experience and the nice progression throughout the weekend. Of course, taking the win in Race 2 was a perfect end, although I benefitted from the engine problems encountered by Sathienthirakul.”

Teammate Pu added “Overall I am very happy with my results. I had a very good start in the first race but in the end I couldn’t match the pace of my teammate. In the second race I was doing very well until I got hit by the FRD Focus. Then I focused on not making any mistakes. The car felt good so it was a very good experience.”

The circuit reported an attendance of 22,000 over the weekend. With four wins out of five races, Asia Racing Team is comfortably leading the TCR Asia Series teams’ championship standings by 58 points.

The TCR Asia Series and the International Series will resume on 19 to 22 November at Macau, for its maiden season’s final.


Photo courtesy of Thanamet Jantotirawong


Pu-Sritrai Driver Line-Up for Buriram

The Asia Racing Team has revealed that they will compete in the two final events of the TCR Asia Series, at Buriram and Macau.

After dominating the inaugural race meeting of TCR Asia at Sepang, claiming victory in all the three races, the Zhuhai-based squad was forced to skip the Singapore event. The team though have now named Kevin Pu Jun Jin from China and local driver Tin Sritrai to drive its pair of SEAT León cars at Buriram.

The 31-year old Pu returns at the wheel of a front-wheel drive touring car three years after his maiden racing season in the Volkswagen Scirocco Cup China; more recently, Pu has split his racing activity between single seaters and sportscars with brilliant results.

“I have been looking to compete in the new TCR Series, and I am very happy to get this opportunity. I never drove the SEAT Léon before and Buriram’s circuit is new to me. Nevertheless I will be aiming to perform my best at this event, hoping to finish on the podium in the TCR Asia and fight with the best of the international field,” he said.

Sritrai is facing his first appearance in an international series, but he can claim perfect knowledge of the Buriram circuit, as he leaves nearby. On top of this he is an experienced touring car driver in spite of his young age (25), having grabbed four titles in the Touring Car Series Asia and two in the Super 2000 class of the Thai Super Series in the last four years.

“This will be a new challenge for me. The SEAT is a front-wheel drive turbo car; very different from what I am used to driving. I’m not going to know what to expect until I get out there on Friday and get a proper feeling of it. It’s going to be a great experience though and I’m going out to do a good job in front of my home fans,” Sritrai admitted.

Team manager Philippe Descombes commented: “We are pleased to be back in the series with such a strong line up. Tin and Kevin are no stranger to the team. They both did well with us in single seaters and having them back at this event will be special for us. We are still leading the teams’ championship standings and we want to keep it that way. You never know until qualifying how the weekend will be, but we’re feeling confident."

 

Text Prepared by TCR International Series

Photo Courtesy of Cheung Chi Wai


Asia Racing Team Stuns on TCR Asia Opening

Asia Racing Team wrote a piece of Asian touring cars history last weekend at the Sepang International Circuit. The Macau-based SEAT León operation laid down an impressive challenge from the outset, winning the first three races in the opening event for the new TCR Asia Series in Malaysia after qualifying its cars on the front row of the grid.

Macau’s Rodolfo Avila had a dominant performance on Saturday race, and teammate Philippe Descombes completed the trifecta for the team, with two dominant wins on the final day of competition to give the team a strong lead in the points heading to Singapore.

The two SEAT León cars had dominated qualifying earlier in the morning, with Avila turning his first real laps in qualifying after missing Friday practice due to illness, the Macanese driver setting a pole time of 2:19.363 in the opening session just 17 one hundredths ahead of teammate and Team Manager in facto Descombes. The Frenchman returned the favour in Q2 though, switching the tables on his teammate, in the process lowering the new benchmark to 2:19.335.

Highlighting perfectly just how competitive the new TCR Asia Series cars are, both laps were actually three tenths of a second faster than Kevin Gleason’s pole time in the Honda back when the TCR International Series qualified at Sepang for their opening round back in March.

The race did not start as planned as both Asia Racing Team cars lost positions at start. Avila dropped to eight and Descombes lost one position to the Ford Focus. It took no longer than two laps for both red-black-white SEAT regain the 1-2 position of the start.

As the laps wound down Asia Racing Team duo didn’t give an inch, with Avila punching out an impressive 2:10.140 late in the session before slowing to join Descombes in a formation finish for the Macau-based operation.

Speaking about his strong touring début, Avila said "I’m proud to be the first ever TCR Asia Series race winner. It was an excellent job from the boys today. The car was always "au point", and after a slow start, I had a lot of fun battling back from 8th to 1st. A special thank you to all those who helped make this happen. I really hope to return to the series in the future."

Sunday’s races were a blast for the team who continued its momentum with a double victory of Descombes. The French veteran started from pole-position in both races and delivered on promise, pulling off an easy double race win.

Descombes said of his race weekend, “We’re very happy with the way the weekend went. The car was fantastic. This weekend was effectively a glorified test session for us, as the cars arrived just last week, so we decided to push them ourselves to see what they were capable of, and I have to say, they do everything they’re supposed to do perfectly. I think this new TCR concept is exactly what the Asian region needs, it will be a great category.”

Due to his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia commitments on Sunday, Avila was replaced by Liu Lic Ka, a former World Touring Car entrant who happened to be in Sepang and tempted to sample the new TCR Seat after watching Avila’s strong victory. Without any previous mileage in the car, the Macau driver had to start from the back of the grid for both races, crossing the finish line in 7th and 4th.

Deputy Team Manager Sergio Fonseca added, "We are very happy with the overall results and our cars performance as this was the very first touring car race weekend for the team: it’s difficult to do any better. But it wasn’t as easy as it looks, and we have to say thanks to everyone who helped us over the weekend. The TCR concept will definitely change the way people see touring car racing in Asia. This is a completely new world."

 

 

Photo courtesy of Cheung Chi Wai


Asia Racing Team Joins Debut Season of TCR Asia Series

One of the most successful teams in Asian motorsport, Macau’s Asia Racing Team [ART], have revealed they will be on the grid with a two-car team for the opening round of the new TCR Asia Series at Sepang in early September [4-6].

Owned by a group of successful South China entrepreneurs, ART has not only been successful across a variety of GT and open-wheel categories over 15 years, they also employ a host of dynamic and multi-faceted young professionals involved in motor racing and event management.

ART are not only one of the most recognisable names in Asian and Chinese motorsports, but the men who command the outfit are respected in the international racing community as well.

The on-field operation of the company is managed by motor racing multi-titlist Frenchman Philippe Descombes, with Macau motor racing ace Rodolfo Avila as the team’s Driver Coach. Portuguese Sérgio Fonseca is the COO, directing ART’s day-to-day office operations to ensure all processes run with seamless perfection, whilst Chief Mechanic Yannick Mazier leads a 12-man crew in the workshop based at Zhuhai International Circuit in China.

The team will line up with a pair of SEAT Léon TCR cars for the season-opener, with a yet-to-be-confirmed driver lineup, although they have been quick to point out they have no shortage of candidates.

“We can see the huge benefits of being involved with the TCR Series in Asia,” ART’s Team Manager Phillipe Descombes explained. “Touring car racing has a huge heritage in Asia but we have been more than a decade waiting for the professionalisation of a new category to step in. The TCR global concept and the Asian series package offered includes a strong calendar, good-looking cars, close racing and affordable budgets - they were key factors in our decision to take part in the series.”

“I’m overjoyed to have ART join the TCR Asia Series in our debut season,” David Sonenscher, the TCR Asia Series promoter and the Asian region’s representative of WSC Ltd admitted. “They are a well recognised team in Asia, and very successful in a variety of categories, so for them to sign up for the maiden season only reinforces the foundation of why we wanted to introduce the Asian series this year.

“The TCR Series offers an amazing program, on some of the best circuits in Asia, with teams getting the opportunity to compete against the world’s best touring car drivers for at least three of our events. The costs are more than competitive against other touring car series around the world, but the fact that it is identical in structure to all the other TCR Series that will be contested this year and into the future, provides teams with the opportunity to compete on a level playing field anywhere in the world.”

 

2015 TCR Asia Series – Calendar

4-6 September, Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia

18-20 September, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore

23-25 October, Buriram International Circuit, Thailand

20-22 November, Circuito da Guia, Macau
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