(Image Credit: TCR UK)
Ahead of the debut of the UK's fastest devloping tin-top catagory, TCR UK, we've spoken to the leading contenders about what to expect when the series races to Castle Combe in mid-July.
Have you ever raced at Castle Combe before? – If so, what series/event?
Carl Swift: Yes, I have in the Civic Cup and Dave Allen Trophy.
Finlay Crocker: Yes in the Mini Challenge 2006.
Oliver Taylor: Yes I have raced at Combe. Caterham R300 in 2010 and then also in the BMW Kumho Championship 2016.
Dan Lloyd: Never, I’ve heard great things about it from others so I’m really excited to see what the circuit is like.
Combe is quite a fast and flowing circuit, is that similar to anywhere else you have raced this season?
Carl Swift: I would say it’s the first of the good fast tracks in the UK.
Finlay Crocker: Not really this year so far.
Oliver Taylor: No I haven’t really raced anywhere as fast as Combe this season. Hopefully a track which suits the Honda slightly more than the other tracks so far.
Dan Lloyd: No, all the other circuits have been quite tight and twisty so it could suit certain cars more than others.
Do you think the circuit will suit the TCR machinery?
Carl Swift: Harsh on tyres but will be very good there. Hopefully no contact thought because run off is zero.
Finlay Crocker: Not particularly.
Oliver Taylor: Yes I feel the circuit will suit TCR cars. The TCR cars are versatile and don’t really not suit any particular circuit, but the higher speed and flowing nature should suit them well.
Dan Lloyd: I think any circuit suits the TCR machinery to be honest; they’re great cars to drive!
How do the TCR cars compare to anything else you have raced in the past?
Carl Swift: Much faster and more competitive. There is no room for even a slight error such as missing an apex or a braking point, you lose too much time.
Finlay Crocker: Similar to the Seat Leon Eurocup car I raced in 2015.
Oliver Taylor: TCR cars are nothing like anything I’ve raced before!! This is my first year in front wheel drive; to date I have only competed in Caterhams and BMW M3s. However, I feel I’ve adapted well and feel great behind the wheel of the Team Pyro Honda
Dan Lloyd: TCR cars are good fun and you get a lot of satisfaction when hooking a lap up in one. I’d say they’re quite easy to get used to but to find the extra tenths at the end are tough which is great in my opinion.
How easy/difficult do you think it will be to overtake/make forward progress at Combe?
Carl Swift: The brave will manage to overtake at Combe, any stupid risks mean you will end up in the wall.
Finlay Crocker: Not really sure but it will certainly require commitment.
Oliver Taylor: I’m hoping, and imagine it will, prove to be quite difficult to overtake at Combe. I’m hoping for another front row start and to complete what I didn’t manage at Brands, and keep Mr Lloyd behind to the flag!!
Dan Lloyd: I’ll have to wait and find out on that one!
(Image Credit: TCR UK)
From a track map/experience, what part of the circuit do you think will be the most challenging?
Carl Swift: Maximising the last corner speed without ending up in the pit wall will be key.
Finlay Crocker: The first 2 corners and the final corner.
Oliver Taylor: I imagine that Quarry and Tower will be challenging. The fast nature combined with the bump before the left hander at Quarry may catch some people out, and the lack of run off at the fast entry to Tower may be unnerving for some!!
Dan Lloyd: I think breaking into the fast right before the second chicane. Looks like the approach speed will be high and into a quick corner as well.
Combe is the mid-point of the season; how pivotal will this meeting be in terms of your championship?
Carl Swift: It’s the first of my four favourite tracks on the calendar so I’m more hopeful of some good results from here for sure.
Finlay Crocker: I have not converted the signs of speed shown into good qualifying positions which has resulted in harder races and too many mistakes. I need to turn this around.
Oliver Taylor: Every round is important, so Combe won’t be treated any different, but we must really do all we can to close the gap to the Championship leader [Dan Lloyd]!!
Dan Lloyd: To be honest I don’t think about things like that. I just get on with my job and make sure I do the best I can. Any other thoughts outside of the weekend can potentially ruin what you’re supposed to be focusing on.
Who (including yourself) do you think the circuit lay-out/configuration will favour?
Carl Swift: Hmm, good question……. I really have no idea.
Finlay Crocker: Hopefully the high-speed nature of the track will favour a longer wheelbase car like the new Civic FK8.
Oliver Taylor: We really hope the circuit will suit the Team Pyro Hondas, but Golfs have shown consistent pace at all rounds and don’t expect them to be too different for this round.
Dan Lloyd: To be honest I don’t think the circuit will favour the Golf as our straight line speed isn’t as good as other cars. Other cars are a bit lighter this weekend compared to us as well so we’ll have to see on that one.
What makes for an ideal race car to handle Castle Combe, judging from experience or a track map? (i.e. chassis or top-end speed or braking capability)
Carl Swift: Very demanding on all three elements at this track. Probably handling most because if you don’t exit on to the start straight well, you’re a sitting duck because it is so long down to the first proper corner.
Finlay Crocker: High speed stability and good overall balance will be pivotal at Castle Combe.
Oliver Taylor: Combe needs a mixture of all elements; it has to have straight line speed given the fast nature of the circuit but it needs to be stable. The circuit has very limited run off, so to exploit the maximum out of the car and driver you need it to be confidence inspiring so you can give it everything through the corners.
Dan Lloyd: I think a strong mid to top speed will be important by looking at on board footage but also there are some heavy breaking areas as well so maybe a bit of everything on this circuit.
Will you been doing any track days/testing to learn the circuit prior to the meeting?
Carl Swift: There is a testing ban for TCR but we will be doing some testing to find some qualifying pace elsewhere soon.
Finlay Crocker: Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time due to work commitments so will be turning up at the race weekend fairly blind.
Oliver Taylor: We don’t have any opportunities to test prior to Combe, and testing on the race weekend is extremely small, so it may make the weekend interesting!!
Dan Lloyd: TCR UK will have an hour test on the Friday so I’ll be joining that one. Learning a circuit quick is one of my strengths and something I love doing so I’m looking forward to it.
Castle Combe would like to extend its thanks to each driver who took their time to answer these questions. We are sure that TCR UK will deliver some trademark fast and frenetic Touring Car action to headline this mid-July BRSCC event.
(Image Credit: TCR UK)