Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil are looking to take an early lead in the 2016 TCR International Series when the season kicks off with a stunning night race in Bahrain this weekend. Newcomer to the series, James Nash, will make his debut alongside Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil regulars, Pepe Oriola and Sergey Afanasyev.
Bahrain is a fresh addition to the calendar and will provide a new challenge for most of the grid as teams and drivers begin to get accustomed to the Sakhir circuit. Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil will be focused on repeating the brilliant start to the season that they delivered in 2015, where they graced the podium in both races and took the win in race two. With their experienced driver lineup, the team hopes to better this result and leave Bahrain at the top of the standings.
After an outstanding inaugural season, Oriola is more motivated than ever to take the title in 2016. While he hasn’t raced in Bahrain, the Spaniard has been training hard on the simulator and is keen to get his car’s setup perfected during the two practice sessions on Friday. Already brimming with greater energy and passion, Oriola will certainly be the one to watch when the lights go out and the season gets underway on Saturday.
While James Nash is new to the TCR International Series, his success in some of Europe’s top touring car series will make him a tough opponent to face on track. While he has been out of touring cars for two years, Nash was able to jump into a TCR car for some preseason testing and he has more than reacquainted himself with the setup. While the opening sessions may take some adjustment, the British touring car maestro is certainly up to the challenge in Bahrain.
With Afanasyev’s first touring car season under his belt, the Russian driver has developed the speed and experience to challenge the best on the grid. With Afanasyev still chasing his first win, Bahrain provides him with the perfect opportunity to capitalize on his opponents and use his TCR International Series expertise to secure his place on the podium.
Free Practice One at the Bahrain International Circuit begins on Friday, the 1st of April, at 12:00pm (GMT +3) followed by Free Practice Two at 4:50pm (GMT +3). Qualifying starts on Saturday, the 2nd of April, at 1:00pm, with Race One to begin at 7:30pm (GMT +3). Race Two is scheduled for Sunday, the 3rd of April at 2:30pm (GMT +3).
The pursuit of the 2016 TCR International Series title would not be possible without the support of LUKOIL, SEAT Sport, Gravity, Orangebus, Team Dynamics and Tunewear.
James Nash, Driver #54
“I am very excited to be a part of this growing championship and to support the Formula One as well. It is going to be a challenging weekend but I have a great team around me and I can’t wait to start working with them again. I am bored of talking…let’s get racing!”
Pepe Oriola, Driver #74
“I am really happy to be back in the series with the team and I hope to have a good result. I am really motivated for this year and after testing in Valencia I think we have the ability to be at the top of the standings all year.”
Sergey Afanasyev, #77
“It is really nice to finally start the season, I haven’t run a single kilometer on this car as it is brand new compared to last year’s car, so it will be a bit of a challenge. We will be fighting for both championship titles and I will do my best. With Lukoil and Craft-Bamboo behind me, I know that we will be competitive and I am really looking forward to an exciting race ahead.”
Richard Coleman, CEO of Craft-Bamboo Racing
“The start of the second TCR season has arrived and I am confident that we can once again challenge for both championship titles. We really needed to have more testing during the off season but we focused on getting our driver lineup right and that will reward us over the entire year.”