Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing is hoping to bounce back this weekend at the Salzburgring to ensure that they reignite their drivers’ and teams’ championship challenge. After a difficult two rounds at high speed circuits in Belgium and Italy, the trio of drivers need to start closing the gap on the competition with some good results at this crucial mid-point of the season. Hugo Valente has decided to step away from motorsport and will be replaced by Daniel Lloyd for the rest of the season. The British driver has a good deal of experience in touring cars and will be working hard to get acquainted with everything as best as possible this weekend. The Salzburgring is the third high speed circuit in a row and while this has proven to be a challenging experience for the team, they are working hard to deliver the most competitive package.
While Pepe Oriola is currently fifth in the drivers’ championship, he has to make up 67 points to catch the lead driver and needs a strong performance here to get back in the game. After having raced at the Salzburgring in 2015 and 2016 in the SEAT Leon, Oriola knows the track well and is confident that he can push the car to its limits and come away with a big helping of points to climb up the leaderboard. After having scored podiums at the Austrian circuit before and after coming away from the last round in Monza with another podium, Oriola can head into the weekend with confidence that he will be able to challenge the rest of the field for the top step.
James Nash is no stranger to the Salzburgring either, taking a podium in his #54 SEAT Leon last year, even after starting from the rear of the field. Nash is determined to make a huge comeback in Austria after some difficult races have seen him miss out on getting the results and points he needs to challenge the guys at the top of the standings. Currently 9th in the points, Nash needs to turn around his title fight as the series reaches the mid-season and the Salzburgring could be the place to do it. If Nash can avoid trouble in the mid-field, expect to see him fighting for at the front of the field for a long overdue podium.
Newcomer Daniel Lloyd will have a big challenge ahead of him this weekend in Austria. He has a new car to get used to after switching over from MG in the BTCC as well as new track to memorize. Thankfully, the British driver is well acquainted with the team so should be able to easily acclimate to his new surroundings. With the generous free testing sessions on Friday and free practice on Saturday, Lloyd should be able to get up to speed and piece together a strong flying lap in the hopes of seeing him start towards the sharp end of the grid on Sunday. Lloyd may even be able to upset some of the series regulars and take to the podium during his first outing as a Lukoil Craft-Bamboo Racing and TCR driver.
Salzburgring Schedule, GMT +2
Saturday 10th June
10.00 - 10.30 TCR International Series Free Practice 1
12.00 - 12.30 TCR International Series Free Practice 2
15.00 - 15.20 TCR International Series Qualifying Session (Q1)
15.25 - 15.35 TCR International Series Qualifying Session (Q2)
Sunday 11th June
13.05 - 13.35 TCR International Series Race 1
14.35 - 15.05 TCR International Series Race 2
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“We don’t expect to do very well in Salzburg this weekend as the circuit won’t suit our car. Unfortunately, this is our third power circuit in a row but we hope to score some solid points before moving onto Hungary and Oschersleben, which should prove to be very good for our car.”
“I am mega excited, it is a new circuit for me and a new car, it is also my first time in the TCR series so there is a lot to learn. It is really great that we have got some good testing time on the Friday, which is great. So I will be getting used to the circuit as quick as possible and then I will start cracking on with my engineer and moving on from there. Obviously the team will have a good base setup already, so that’s good to have in the back of my head. It is really about learning and gelling with the team as quick as possible to get the most of out of the weekend. It would be mega to come away from the weekend with some good strong points. It is tough championship and a tough competition, so I will try and get used to it as quick as possible and see what we can do.”
James Nash, #54 Driver
“Last year technical problems ruined qualifying for me so I had to start both races from the back. A second place in race one and fourth in race two though, were very satisfying results in the circumstances. I’ve won here in the past so while the Salzburgring might be one of the shorter circuits we visit, I like it.
Pepe Oriola, #74 Driver
“I am looking forward to the Salzburgring, as last year I was leading the race until the last lap before an engine failure. I think I will be strong at this circuit but let us hope for a BoP change so we can show our potential and get some good points for the championship.”