Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing is proud to announce a fresh and exciting driver lineup for the 2017 TCR International Series season that features a strong mix of highly experienced and successful touring car drivers. Hugo Valente, James Nash and Pepe Oriola form the trio of drivers that will be fighting for TCR International Series glory alongside Lukoil and SEAT Sport in 2017.
New to the team for 2017 is Hugo Valente, the seasoned World Touring Car Championship driver who started his WTCC career in 2013. Valente continued his rise and signed as a factory driver with Lada Sport in 2016 before finishing the competition in 12th place. Valente joins Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing and now returns to SEAT where he started his touring car career in the French SEAT Leon Supercopa in 2012. His experience in high level touring car racing and behind the wheel of the SEAT Leon will be invaluable as he quickly gets accustomed to the new car, new circuits, and the competition.
James Nash is back for his second TCR season with Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing and the Brit has the sole intention of claiming the drivers’ championship title he so narrowly missed out on by only 3.5 points in Macau last year. Nash rejoins the 2016 TCR Teams’ Champions and hopes to build on his immensely successful 2016 track record where he claimed 11 podiums from 22 races, the most out of any driver in the series. His calculated driving style and consistency in the #54 SEAT Leon throughout his inaugural season were key factors in his ability to challenge the more experienced TCR drivers of the competition. With a year behind the wheel of the SEAT Leon now under his belt, Nash will be starting this season in a much stronger position and is sure to be one of the top contenders for the drivers’ title in 2017.
Pepe Oriola completes Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing’s trio of drivers and joins the team for the third consecutive season. After an incredibly successful two years behind the wheel of the SEAT Leon, the young gun is heading into the 2017 season with his eyes firmly set on the drivers’ championship title. The Spaniard has been a constant front runner ever since the series’ began in 2015 and is proving to be one of the fastest SEAT drivers on the grid. Oriola took 2nd place in his debut season with an incredible 12 podiums and continued his string of success in 2016, taking four wins and a total of nine podiums that would see him lead the championship on multiple occasions throughout the season before finishing fourth overall.
Oriola has been a dominant force in the championship and after just missing out on the title in 2015 and continually trading the top spot on the ladder throughout 2016; the young but highly experienced touring car driver is back with Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing to claim the title he has been so tantalizingly close to over the past two years.
The team has their eyes firmly set on taking both the drivers’ and teams’ championship titles this season and with the careful selection of Hugo Valente, James Nash and Pepe Oriola for their 2017 driver lineup, Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing has ensured that they have the best chance at victory when the season kicks off in Georgia on April 2nd.
Hugo Valente, Driver #7
“I’m very excited for this new challenge, as it has been a long winter and I wasn’t sure if I would be given the opportunity to race again in 2017. For me it was important to get back to the front end of the field, I wanted to be able to fight for podiums and victory at every event. I’ve seen the way Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing works, and to me it's possibly the best opportunity that I’ve been given in the past couple of years. They're established in the TCR international Series and have won the team title last year, so we'll be the guys to beat but we definitely need to focus on bringing back both titles this year.”
James Nash, Driver #54
“I am really excited to be joining Lukoil and Craft-Bamboo in the SEAT Leon Racer TCR for the second year running. 2016 was a great year and despite making many errors in the season we still won the teams’ championship and finished second in the drivers’. Obviously I would like to go one better this year and being in the same environment gives me that opportunity. I can't thank Lukoil enough for their continued support and I look forward to getting back to work with the whole team.”
Pepe Oriola, Driver #74
“I am so excited to race with Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing again as it's my 3rd year in the family and it feels like a real family. With my two teammates I hope we can win the teams’ championship and finally win the drivers title too! I have to give a big thanks to SEAT for the support they are giving to me and to the team.”
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“I would like to welcome Hugo Valente to Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing. He has shown his ability in touring cars over the past four seasons and I am sure that he will be able to adjust to the SEAT Leon fairly quickly and begin to challenge at the sharp end of the grid. I am proud to have James Nash and Pepe Oriola back for another season as well. They have a strong history of success with the team and I expect them to be competing at the very top of the competition in 2017 while in pursuit of both championship titles. Put simply, I think any one of our drivers is capable of winning the championship this year.”