The TCR International Series season is drawing to a close and Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil has arrived in Macau to secure the drivers’ championship title this weekend. Both James Nash and Pepe Oriola have a shot at claiming the championship, with Nash currently leading the championship on 262 points, while Oriola is third with 229 points. With 55 points up for grabs throughout the weekend, the top four drivers in the series will be battling it out for supremacy at the world renowned 6.1 km street circuit. Macau’s weekend format will differ from the usual format seen throughout the season. There will be no reverse grid for race two; the finishing positions in race one will determine the race two start grid. Therefore it is essential for drivers to qualify well for race one as the narrow circuit makes it difficult to pass.
Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil will be joined by partner sponsor Aspec, who will be decorating all three SEAT Leons in a specially designed livery. The complete tuning company from China will display Aspec logos prominently on the roof, doors, bonnet and rear bumper of each car. This will give the trio of Craft-Bamboo Lukoil cars a distinct look and help them stand out among the 36 entrants that are competing in the famous two races on Sunday.
James Nash will be looking to secure the drivers’ championship this weekend to cap off his inaugural season in the TCR International Series and with his 17 point lead over second place; he is in a strong position to do so. Nash has a good deal of experience in Macau, having raced in both TCR and WTCC cars there in the past. The Brit will have to deal with 30kg of success ballast though, and on the tight undulating streets of Macau, this could hinder his performance. Nash will have to do his all in qualifying to get his car ahead of his rivals, who will be running lighter setups than himself. The #54 driver is focused on continuing his reign as the highest podium scorer throughout the season and it this consistency that has allowed him secure his lead in the drivers’ championship as he heads into the final round of the season.
Pepe Oriola knows how challenging the final two races are going to be but is well prepared thanks to the experience he gained in the SEAT Leon in Macau during last year’s season finale. Unlike Nash, Oriola has no ballast to deal with and this will give him the chance to fully challenge for the best result in each session. However, Oriola will need a very drastic turn of events to help turn the tide in his favour if he is to claim the championship lead. We have seen time and time again throughout the season that the Spaniard is capable of taking the top step of the podium but he knows that he is fighting an uphill battle and is ready to support Nash throughout the weekend to ensure that the team takes home the drivers’ championship title.
Sergey Afanasyev is determined to end his season on a high by getting back up onto the podium in Macau. The Russian driver has acknowledged that he needs to return to the form that was seen earlier in the season that allowed him to score a pole position and later reach the podium in a later round. Afanasyev has also raced in Macau before and knows the difficulty of the street circuit, so he will be putting his prior experience to good use to get the jump on his opponents. With the teams’ championship secured by Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil in the previous round in Malaysia, Afanasyev will be aiming high and supporting his teammates in their hunt for the drivers’ championship.
TCR International Series, Macau Guia Race 2.0T Timetable GMT +8
Thursday 17th November
11:25 - 11:55: Suncity Group Macau Guia Race 2.0T – Practice
Friday 18th of November
12:30 - 13:00: Suncity Group Macau Guia Race 2.0T – Practice
Saturday 19th of November
07:30 - 08:30: Suncity Group Macau Guia Race 2.0T – Qualifying
Sunday 20th of November
10:00 - 12:00: Suncity Group Macau Guia Race 2.0T - 2 Races of 10 laps each with 15 minutes break between races
James Nash, Driver #54
“The points gap isn’t enough for me to be able to relax, but it’s nice to go into the last round in the lead. The weight issue is obviously one that has to be considered but put it this way; I'd rather have the 17-point lead I've got than an unburdened car and the challenge of a 17-points deficit to make up. We've been working all year for this opportunity and have had a strategy of being consistent high points scorers instead of maybe proving our ultimate pace with lots of race wins but perhaps running the risk of failing to finish many more races too. I was surprised actually to learn that nobody has secured more podiums this season than me so it is a strategy that has worked so far and hopefully will continue that way for a little longer."
Pepe Oriola, Driver #74
“While it is still mathematically possible for me to win the championship in Macau, I must concede and support my teammate James who is currently ahead with a strong lead. He has the greatest chance and I am behind him one hundred percent of the way. Of course I will be racing my hardest as always but we are a team and we must make sure that we take the drivers’ championship this year.”
Sergey Afanasyev, Driver #77
“We have arrived at the final event of the year and it is not going to be an easy one, as it is the most difficult circuit I know. I believe we will do our best and do a fantastic job. Our goal is to have either Pepe or James take the drivers’ championship and my target will be to get back to the podium as I have struggled to get back up there recently.”
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“It has been a great season so far and after taking the teams’ championship in the previous round, we will be fighting to have James claim the drivers’ title this weekend, but of course it is going to be challenging. The whole team is behind James and we will be supporting him to take the drivers’ championship after these two final races. Macau is not an easy circuit and there are many variables that can easily ruin a race, but I am sure the guest drivers will respect our championship fight and drive a clean race. We are all looking forward to being able to take home both championship titles this season and it would be a fantastic finish to the year for Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil.”
Lawrence Yip, Founder and Director of Aspec
“Aspec is a high end complete tuning brand that strives for high quality and high performance, that is why we are very proud to work with Craft-Bamboo Racing and be aligned with a championship winning team. Hopefully with our support we can help them achieve the drivers’ championship title in Macau.”
The pursuit of the 2016 TCR International Series title would not be possible without the support of LUKOIL, SEAT Sport, Aspec, Gravity, Orangebus, Team Dynamics and Tunewear.