Youngster Engstler and Gdovic win with the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
Two wins to start the new year: the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR twice tasted success on the opening race weekend of the new TCR Middle East championship. The first race in Dubai was won by 16-year-old Luca Engstler (Liqui Moly Team Engstler) – in his very first touring car race.
He was joined on the podium by another Engstler driver in the form of Brandon Gdovic, who finished third. The Golf GTI TCR achieved a top-four shut-out in race two: this time the winner was Gdovic, followed by team-mates Mat’o Homola, Filip Sládecka and Stefan Goede. Luca Engstler came home sixth in this race. The new series now heads to Abu Dhabi on 10 February.
Two second places for Abreu and Gião.
Francisco Abreu and Manuel Gião (P/P) claimed two podium places during the last weekend of racing in the TCR Portugal at the wheel of their Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. A total of four sprint races were held at the former Formula 1 circuit in Estoril (P), with the Portuguese pairing finishing fourth in the first two. The Team Novadriver duo fared better in the afternoon, claiming two second places. As well as giving them a positive end to the season, this put Abreu/Gião second in the overall standings for the TCR Portugal.
Stefano Comini drives the Golf GTI to the TCR title.
Last-minute triumph: Stefano Comini (CH) confirmed his title win in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at the season finale of the international TCR series in Macau. The Swiss driver from the Volkswagen customer team Leopard Racing claimed victory in the first race on the legendary street circuit, and then finished fourth in the second race. On the last race weekend, he was able to fend off his closest challenger James Nash (Seat/GB).
“I have to thank everyone at Leopard Racing and at Volkswagen Motorsport,” said Comini after the two turbulent races, which were characterised by a host of incidents and interruptions. “This was not an easy season. We had a lot of problems, especially at the start. The Golf GTI TCR developed into a real winning car as the season progressed, and played a major role in the title win thanks to its great reliability.” Comini’s team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay (F) recorded two second-place finishes to claim third in the overall drivers’ standings, underlining just how competitive the Golf GTI TCR is.
Three wins in 22 season races were enough for Comini to win the title
Ahead from the start: the Volkswagen Golf GTI claimed the title in the international TCR championship in its first full season. Comini needed just three wins and a regular points haul in the 22 races of the 2016 season to record another championship win, having already claimed the title with Seat in 2015. Team-mate Vernay endured an unhappy start to the season, returning empty-handed from three of the five opening races. The French driver turned up the heat after that, contributing three wins to the team victory and challenging for the title right up to the finale in Macau.
Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR – a success story since 2015
It came, it saw, it conquered: in July 2015, Volkswagen presented a series-oriented 330 HP concept car, based on the seventh-generation Golf. Constructed according to the TCR regulations, it was intended for use in a customer sport programme from the 2016 season. To speed up development, the Golf was tested on the track under competitive conditions at the final race weekends of the TCR International Series. The renowned Liqui Moly Team Engstler was responsible for the cars in competition. The test proved to be a success: the first race in Austria brought the first win for the touring car from Wolfsburg - starting the success story for the Golf GTI TCR.
International success - racing Golf celebrates wins around the world
2016 marked the start of the next chapter: Andy Yan (HK, Liqui Moly Team Engstler) claimed the first title win with the Golf GTI TCR in the TCR Asia – confirmed before the season finale in in Macau. Romain de Leval (B, Delahaye Racing) was also successful in the TCR Benelux, winning the Junior title. Francisco Abreu/Manuel Gião (P/P, Team Novadriver) are still in with a chance of the title as they approach the finale of the Portuguese TCR championship in Estoril (26th–27th November).
82-point cushion – Andy Yan wins the title in style.
Andy Yan really made his mark on the 2016 season of the TCR Asia. The Liqui Moly Team Engstler driver scored 220 points from ten races in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, winning five. Following the penultimate race weekend in Malaysia, his lead over second-placed Kevin Tse (TeamWork Motorsport) – another Golf GTI TCR driver – was so great that Yan could no longer be denied the title at the finale in Macau.
The highlight of the season in the popular touring car championship was held in the urban canyons of Macau. Yan picked up a further 25 points to end the year 82 points clear of Tse. First season, first title – Yan and the Golf GTI TCR could hardly have wished for a better year.
The fantastic four.
Showdown in Macau: The race for the title in the TCR International Series will be decided this weekend (18-20 November) on the iconic circuit in the Chinese special administrative region. And the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR is in the thick of it: from a Volkswagen point of view, last year’s champion Stefano Comini of customer team Leopard Racing has the best chance of clinching the title again. The Swiss driver has 245 points to his name and, with 55 points up for grabs, trails championship leader James Nash (Seat) by 17 points.
Seat driver Pepe Oriola (229 points) and Comini‘s team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay (223) complete the title-chasing quartet. It is important to mention here that championship leader Nash is the only one of the “fantastic four” who will have to carry success weight at the 6.2-kilometre circuit. 30 kilograms. A heavy load. It is going to be exciting, as the races through the jungle of crash barriers in Macau have regularly treated spectators to high-class duels in the past.
The first race in Macau begins at 10:05 local time (UTC+8) on Sunday. The lights go green for race two at 11:20 local time. Both races will be broadcast live on the TCR livestream.
Dear teams, customer and potential buyers,
We would like to inform you that the production plan of the new Golf GTI TCR is fixed for 2017. We will deliver the cars from end of January 2017 to end of march 2017.
Because of the high interest in the Golf GTI TCR for 2017 we recommend to order the Golf for 2017 as soon as possible. Therewith you could get one of the first cars and we could guarantee you a car for 2017.
According the slogan – “first in first out” – who orders and make its prepayment first gets first.
Coming soon (end of November)
We will inform you about….
Your Volkswagen Motorsport customer sport team
De Leval wins Junior title in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
Romain de Leval claimed the Junior title in his Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at the sixth and final race weekend of the TCR Benelux series in Mettet, Belgium. The driver from the Delahaye team finished fourth in the opening race and fifth in race two. Alexis van de Poele, who shares the cockpit of the Golf GTI TCR with de Leval, also had cause for celebration. Van de Poele finished third to claim a spot on the podium in the fourth and final race. The Belgian also came home fourth in race three.
Podium places for Potty and Richard in the Golf GTI TCR.
Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR drivers Maxime Potty (B) and Amaury Richard (F) both made it onto the podium on the fifth weekend of racing in the TCR Benelux. A total of four races were held in the Dutch city of Assen in difficult, changeable weather conditions. Potty crossed the line third in the first race, then the young Belgian took second place in race two. Richard finished third in the other two races at the wheel of the Golf GTI TCR to gain a place on the podium as well. Alexis van de Poele (B) finished fifth twice and his fellow Volkswagen driver Loris Hezemans (B) scored a strong fourth-place finish. This puts Potty at the top of the Junior standings and gives him fourth place in the overall standings, followed by van de Poele. The season finale of the TCR Benelux will be held in Mettet (B) on 29 and 30 October.
Podium for Comini in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
Stefano Comini (CH) claimed another podium finish in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at round ten of the TCR International Series. The Leopard Racing team driver finished second behind Roberto Colciago (I/Honda) in the opening race in Sepang (MAL). Third place went to championship leader James Nash (GB/Seat). Comini had to settle 18th place in race to, after picking up a 30-second penalty for causing a collision. Comini’s team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay (F) finished fifth in both races. Comini tightened his grip on second place in the overall standings and now lies behind Nash (262) and ahead of Pepe Oriola (Seat/229) with 245 points to his name. Vernay is fourth overall with 223 points. The season finale will take place in Macau (CN) from 18 to 20 November.
Two fifth-place finishes for the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR .
Benjamin Leuchter (D) and Kai Jordan (D) claimed to 5th-place finishes with the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at the season finale of the TCR Germany series at the Hockenheimring (D). Leuchter crossed the line fifth in race one after 17 laps of racing. The win went to Josh Files (GB/Honda), who also secured overall victory. Tom Lautenschlager (D) and Jordan finished seventh and ninth in their Golf GTI TCR cars. Jordan ended Sunday’s second race in fifth place, with Steve Kirsch (D/Honda) taking the win.
Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR celebrates two wins in Colmar-Berg.
The WRT team brought home a total of two wins with the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at the TCR Benelux Championship race weekend in Colmar-Berg (L). The team got the first win in the main race of 60 minutes, in which Maxime Potty (B) and Stefano Comini (CH) took turns at the wheel of the Golf. In the first two sprint races, Potty finished in second place twice, then team-mate Comini rounded off the weekend with a win in the third sprint race. Comini's retirement in the fourth race was bearable for the team given the otherwise strong weekend. The next TCR Benelux race weekend will be held in Assen in the Netherlands, from 22 to 23 October.
Victory in Singapore: Vernay triumphs, ahead of Comini.
Jean-Karl Vernay (F) claimed victory with the Golf GTI TCR at the ninth race weekend of the TCR International Series in Singapore. The driver from Volkswagen customer team Leopard Racing came home ahead of team-mate Stefano Comini (CH) and Pepe Oriola (E, SEAT) on Saturday. Comini and Vernay finished fourth and sixth in race two on Sunday. Several safety car phases prevented the duo achieving better results. Victory went to Mikhail Grachev (RUS) in the Honda Civic TCR. Davit Kajaia (GE) of Volkswagen customer team Engstler was eighth.
The Drivers’ Championship could hardly be more exciting: with two race weekends remaining, Comini is now just two points behind the leader, James Nash (GB). Vernay is fourth, 28 points off the lead.
Close doesn’t begin to describe it.
Three events remain in the TCR International Series and nothing has been decided yet. On the contrary: the last race weekend in Thailand saw a continuation of the back-and-forth at the top of the overall standings, with a three-way battle developing for the lead.
Currently in pole position in the overall standings: James Nash. He is seven points ahead of second-placed Pepe Oriola. Also in the title race: Swiss driver Stefano Comini from Volkswagen customer team Leopard Racing, who is third and just ten points off the top.
The goals for the upcoming race weekend in Singapore are clear: get back to the top with the 330-hp Golf GTI TCR and reclaim the position that Comini had held before the last race weekend in Thailand. The 26-year-old then aims to retain that position until the end of the season. And he has a good chance of doing just that. The very thing that stopped Comini from recording a better result in Thailand could now work in his favour - the distribution of success ballast weight dependent on the most recent results. Comini will start the race with the lightest car of the top three. The Swiss driver’s Golf GTI TCR is 40 kilograms lighter than Oriola’s SEAT, and fully 50 kilograms lighter than Nash’s.
Jean-Karl Vernay is another promising driver who will be competing for the Leopard Racing team in the Asian metropolis. The Frenchman has already claimed victory in two races this season.
The race will also feature three more Golf GTI TCRs, driven by Davit Kajaia and Filipe C. De Souza (both Team Engstler) and Neric Wei Chaoyin from the Son Veng Racing Team. See the races in the TCR live stream.
Abreu does it – win number one for the Golf GTI TCR in Portugal.
Francisco Abreu (Team Novadriver) earned a maiden TCR Portugal victory for the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. The Portuguese driver won race two in Jerez de la Frontera in the 330-hp touring car from Wolfsburg. Remarkably, the 22-year-old defending champion in the Portuguese TCR championship was making his debut at the former Formula One circuit in the Spanish region of Andalusia at the weekend.
Abreu’s team-mate, the experienced Portuguese Manuel Gião, rounded off the team’s success with a third place in race one. These latest results mean the two Volkswagen drivers still have a chance of winning the TCR Portugal title. The lights will go green for the final races in Estoril on 21 and 22 November. What will the weekend have in store for Team Novadriver?
Two fourth places for Volkswagen driver Comini in Thailand.
Stefano Comini (CH) was the best-placed Volkswagen driver at the eighth race weekend of the TCR International Series in Buriram (T). The Swiss, from Volkswagen customer team Leopard Racing, finished fourth in both races at the Chang International Circuit. A further two Golf GTI TCR drivers finished in the top ten in race one, in the form of Comini’s team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay (F) in fifth and Davit Kajaia (GE, Engstler Motorsport) in tenth place.
Kajaia came home fifth behind Comini in race two, while Vernay finished eighth to score valuable championship points. Victory in Thailand went to Seat drivers Pepe Oriola (E) and James Nash (GB). Comini is now third in the Drivers’ Championship with 194 points to his name, just ten points behind the new leader Nash (204 points). Next up for the TCR International Series is the Marina Bay Circuit in Singapore on 16 and 17 September.
30 kilograms of extra weight for Buriram.
It is finally back, after an eight-week summer break: the TCR International Series returns to action at the Chang International Circuit this weekend. Stefano Comini, of Volkswagen customer team Leopard Racing, travels to Buriram leading the Drivers’ Championship with 169 points – one point more than Seat driver Pepe Oriola.
Comini has a heavy burden to bear this weekend: the defending champion must load the maximum 30 kilograms of success ballast onto his Golf GTI TCR. This is thanks to the 40 points he scored in Sochi, when he secured pole position, won race one and finished fifth in race two.
The races in Thailand herald the Asian leg of the season for the international TCR series, as the competitors enter the business end of the championship. Buriram is followed by Singapore, before Macau hosts the season finale on 20 November. The title race is still wide open: the top six in the Drivers’ Championship are separated by just 37 points, with a maximum 220 still up for grabs. Jean-Karl Vernay, Comini’s team-mate at Leopard Racing, is also still in the hunt for the title. Vernay currently lies fourth with 146 points.
The opening race in Buriram begins at 12:25 local time 07:25 CET). The lights go green for race two at 13:55 local time (08:55 CET). Both races will be broadcast live in the TCR live stream.
Two fourth-place finishes for youngster Zimmermann.
Tim Zimmermann claimed two good results at the penultimate race weekend of the TCR Germany series in Zandvoort, Netherlands. The 19-year-old crossed the finish line fourth in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR in both races. The other Volkswagen drivers also claimed top-ten finishes in some wet weather at the winding circuit, which is nestled in the dunes on the North Sea coast: Nicklas Mackschin was sixth in race two, ahead of Benjamin Leuchter in seventh place. Tom Lautenschlager and Kai Jordan finished ninth and tenth in the same race. The two races were won by Seat drivers Harald Proczyk and Antti Buri. The final round of the TCR Germany will take place at the Hockenheimring from 30 September to 2 October.
Radermecker bags a brace of wins in Zolder.
Vincent Radermecker claimed two wins at the third race weekend of the TCR Benelux series in Zolder. Radermecker, at the wheel of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, won the first two of four races. Volkswagen had two reasons to celebrate in race one, as Didier van Dalen ollowed him home in second place in a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. The best-placed Volkswagen driver in race three was Alexis van de Poele, who finished third and is currently the top Volkswagen driver in the championship in fourth place. Colmarberg hosts the next TCR Benelux races from 23 to 25 September.
One-two-three in Shanghai: Yan on course for the title in a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
Andy Yan took a big step towards winning the title at the Shanghai International Circuit. The driver from the Volkswagen customer team Engstler Motorsport won both races at the Formula One circuit. Race two actually produced a one-two-three for the 330-hp Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR: Kevin Tse (Team Work Motorsport) finished runner-up, ahead of Yan’s team-mate at Engstler Motorsport, Filipe de Souza, in third place. With two race weekends remaining and a maximum 110 points up for grabs, Yan holds a 65-point lead over Tse in the overall standings. The next races will take place in Zhejiang on 22 and 23 October.
TCR action in Zandvoort.
The inaugural season of the ADAC TCR Germany is rapidly approaching judgement day: the touring car series enters its penultimate round this weekend with races eleven and twelve of the season at the circuit on the North Sea coast in Zandvoort. The focus will be on championship leader Josh Files (25, Great Britain, Target Competition), who has “match point” in the Netherlands and could be crowned the series’ first champion in his Honda Civic TCR with races to spare. Files currently leads the Drivers’ Championship with 168 points, followed in second place by Harald Proczyk (Seat/118).
The starting grid will once again feature five Volkswagen Golf GTI TCRs. The best-placed Volkswagen driver in the field is currently Benjamin Leuchter (D), who finished fifth and sixth in his bright-red Golf GTI TCR at the latest race weekend at the Nürburgring. With 92 points to his name, Leuchter is just 16 behind the third-placed driver, Steve Kirsch (Honda/108). However, he must also keep an eye on the drivers behind him, with fifth-placed Mike Halder just four points back.
Tom Lautenschlager of Liqui Moly Team Engstler will also be in action at the winding Zandvoort circuit. The 17-year-old produced a solid display last time out with top-ten results at the Nürburgring, and is looking to build on this in the Netherlands. Lautenschlager currently holds a comfortable lead in the TCR Junior class with 201 points, ahead of Dominik Fugel (Honda/161).
Both TCR races from Zandvoort will be broadcast live on Sport1 and on the TCR live stream (http://www.adac-motorsport.de/livestream-adac-tcr-germany.html).
Leuchter picks up valuable points.
Benjamin Leuchter (D) scored valuable points towards the TCR Germany Drivers’ Championship with the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at his home event at the Nürburgring. The driver from the Racing One team finished sixth in Saturday’s opening race in the Eifel region. He then went one better on the Sunday, finishing fifth.
Tom Lautenschlager (D) of the Engstler team also had cause for celebration in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, ending both races as the best-placed junior. The next race weekend in TCR Germany takes place from 19 to 21 August in Zandvoort (NL).
Fortune at home?
The crucial phase of TCR Germany is here – the fifth of seven race weekends will be held at the Nürburgring and right in the thick of the battle for the podium positions in the overall standings is Benjamin Leuchter in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
Despite often being dogged by bad luck in recent races, the man from Duisburg is only 24 points off third place in the overall classification as it stands. He now heads to his home event in the Eifel full of anticipation.
Benjamin Leuchter in the Eifel with the Golf GTI TCR – that rings a bell? Yes! At the beginning of May, the 28-year-old set a new record of 7:49.21 minutes for front-wheel drive production cars in his company car at the "Green Hell".
It may only be the 3.629-kilometre Nürburgring this weekend, but Leuchter still gets that feeling of being at home: "I love being there, a great deal of my entire life identifies with this track. The Nürburgring is our living room. I'm practically at home there. My team and I will do our best to force a turnaround there. I am looking forward to the Eifel."
The two races will be held on Saturday and Sunday, each starting at 12:00 p.m. CEST. Sport1 and the TCR live stream will broadcast the event live.
Leuchter and Lautenschlager best-placed Volkswagen drivers in Styria.
Four finishes in the top 10 – that was the story of the fourth race weekend of the TCR Germany season for the Golf GTI TCR. Benjamin Leuchter (D, Racing One) and Tom Lautenschlager (D, Engstler Motorsport) were the best-placed Volkswagen drivers. Leuchter claimed sixth place in the first race on Saturday afternoon. Tim Zimmermann (D, Engstler Motorsport) finished ninth in the 330 HP touring car from Wolfsburg. Victory went to Josh Files (GB, Honda). Lautenschlager finished fifth in the second race in Styria, while Kai Jordan (D, JBR Motorsport) also recorded a top 10 finish as he crossed the line in ninth place. Steve Kirsch (D, Honda) was victorious in the second race.
Two firsts in Styria.
The time for rest and recuperation is over. After over a month’s break, the engines are ready to roar back to life in the TCR Germany this weekend. The Red Bull Ring in Austria will provide the backdrop for some top racing action and two firsts: the two races in Styria represent the first events in the new race series from the German Automobile Association ADAC to take place outside of Germany. In addition to this, there will be a new face behind the wheel of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR: Niklas Mackschin.
The 21-year-old driver from Lower Saxony will compete for the Volkswagen customer team Engstler Motorsport, replacing Switzerland’s Daniel Conrad, who will miss the rest of the season due to injury. Mackschin is already familiar with the 330 HP touring car from Wolfsburg. He recorded surprising eighth- and ninth-place finishes in Oschersleben, as a guest starter in the TCR International Series.
Tim Zimmermann, Mackschin’s team-mate at Engstler Motorsport, made it onto the podium with a third-place finish in the last TCR Germany race in Oschersleben. “We nearly got the first win of the season in Oschersleben,” says an optimistic Zimmermann. “If we get it right, we’ll make the podium. Our goal is now to top the podium, at long last.”
Reaching the podium is also the goal for Benjamin Leuchter. The driver from Duisburg, competing for the Racing One team, has climbed to fifth in the overall standings and is the best-placed Volkswagen driver. After his disappointing weekend in Oschersleben, where he scored just four points, Leuchter is ready to go on the attack again in his red Golf GTI TCR. The first race starts at 15:40 on Saturday, while the second race is scheduled for 10:40 on Sunday. Both races will be broadcast on Sport1 and on the TCR live stream.
Radermecker wins in the Golf GTI TCR.
Victory for the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR – Vincent Radermecker guided the 330-hp touring car from Wolfsburg to success at the second race weekend of the TCR Benelux series. The Belgian from the Milo Racing team won race two in Zandvoort. Radermecker also finished a fine third in the opening race at the ex-Formula One circuit. Amaury Richard of Volkswagen customer team Delahaye Racing also impressed in the Golf GTI TCR: he was embroiled in a thrilling battle with Norbert Michelisz in race one and eventually finished runner-up behind the Honda driver, who also races in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Victories in races three and four went to Jeffrey Van Hooydonk and Loris Hezemans (both Seat).
Team Novadriver second in Portimão with the Golf GTI TCR.
Team Novadriver claimed a podium finish at the third race weekend of the TCR Portugal in Portimão (P). The Portuguese duo of Francisco Abreu/Manuel Gião alternated at the wheel of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR in the four races at the 4.692-kilometre racetrack in the south of Portugal. Gião finished an impressive second in race four, clocking the fastest lap of the race to cross the finish line behind Francisco Mora (P/Seat), who won all four of the weekend’s races. Gião had previously come home eighth in the opening race of the weekend. Team-mate Abreu narrowly missed out on the podium in race three, but had to settle for fourth place.
“I live at full throttle.”
You can’t help but notice him in his bright red Golf GTI TCR. Benjamin Leuchter from the Volkswagen Racing One customer team is challenging for the title in the new TCR Germany series, in his first season. The man from Duisburg is not just competing in the TCR. In conversation, it becomes clear that he really does live at full throttle. In the second part of our interview, Leuchter talks about starting out in motorsport with four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, his enduring connection with Volkswagen and his key message to young drivers.
When did you start to get really passionate about motorsport?
Benjamin Leuchter: I started to get really interested in motorsport when I was seven or eight years old. I was eight when I sat in a kart for the first time. I am the first person in my family to be involved in motorsport. It wasn’t easy for me – there was no-one who could tell me what I had to do, or how.
In 2004, you were a team-mate of Sebastian Vettel in the BMW talent development programme. Are you often asked about this?
Leuchter: Of course. For us Germans, Sebastian Vettel is the number one driver after Michael Schumacher. I do look back fondly to that time. It was great fun, and taught me a lot as I was able to gather a lot of important experiences.
When you are asked about it, what are the most common questions and how do you respond to them?
Leuchter: Whether I am still in touch with Sebastian. I am also often asked why I am not driving in Formula 1 now. At the time Sebastian was just starting out in Formula 1, we were in touch more than we are now. And as to why I am not driving in Formula 1 now – I just believe that the ways and means I had at the time were just not quite sufficient to allow me to make that step. I didn’t have the sponsors and the financial wherewithal to step up to Formula 3 and Formula 3000. That is why I chose a different path, to make sure that I did not get left by the wayside. I recognised fairly early on that touring car sport was the way to go. And I turned my hobby into my occupation. I live at full throttle – whether that is in Formula 1 or in the TCR, is really not important for me. I am not disappointed about not being in Formula 1, but am happy that I can do what I enjoy doing. And I am passionate about doing that, 100 percent.
You have been involved with Volkswagen for some time. You have been part of the Volkswagen Driving Experience team since 2010. How did that come about?
Leuchter: At that point in my career, I could not get a drive anywhere in motorsport. I wanted to stay in the sport and not pull the plug from one day to the next. I wanted to carry on driving. That was when I applied to Drive and Training AG, which provides the instructors for the Volkswagen Driving Experience. I was then invited to a trial, which led to a job offer. I am so grateful to have received that opportunity and I am happy to be linked to the Volkswagen brand.
When you couldn’t get a drive, did it become clear to you that you had to be willing to do more, to have the chance to stay involved in motorsport?
Leuchter: I don’t give up easily. As far as I could see, I had two options: either I have nothing more to do with cars and motorsport, or I must be willing to do more. I am a lot busier now and work around the world for the Volkswagen brand. We do marketing and driving events, try to get people emotionally involved and get them excited about the cars. I live like that, and it is great fun.
Do you spend more time behind the wheel as a racing driver or as an instructor?
Leuchter: Up to the end of 2015, the focus was on the driving events. I have a packed race calendar this year but I am still involved in the driving events. At the moment, I am used to work more as an instructor. I do hope that could change, though. And this job means I get to travel a lot.
Do you still have time for hobbies with such a packed race calendar?
Leuchter: To a point. This year, I really am reaching my limit. It is a really exciting year, and the most intensive I have ever had in terms of work. Hobbies have had to take a back seat. To stay fit, awake and lively, I do kickboxing, shadowboxing, cross-fit training and running. Right now, I just don’t have the time for karting or playing poker. This year, my favourite hobby is my occupation: driving.
You also support young racing drivers as mentor and coach.
Leuchter: Yes. In the 2011 and 2012 seasons, I supported Jonas Giesler as his mentor in the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup. My aim was to pass on to him all that I had learned. Since 2015, I have been supporting Dennis Wüsthoff as a driving coach in the VLN Endurance Racing Championship, and this year Fabian Danz is involved as well. I like guys who are passionate about motorsport, and aren’t in it just to drive around a bit at the weekend. Motorsport can be a hostile environment. I wish I had had a mentor in my early years. I had to teach myself everything. Of course it is easier if you have someone around who can stop you making mistakes.
Do you have a key message that you pass on to both of them, or do you concentrate on different topics?
Leuchter: As far as driving is concerned, we touch on different topics. In general, I tell them both this: never give up, always believe in yourself and always work on yourself, to look for errors and learn from them.
Victory for Comini, podium for Vernay.
Stefano Comini claimed another victory at the seventh race weekend of the TCR International Series in Sochi. This latest win puts Comini in the lead in the overall standings. The Leopard Racing driver, at the wheel of the 330-hp Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, came home ahead of Pep Oriola (Seat) and Gianni Morbidelli (Honda) in race one at the Grand Prix circuit on the Black Sea. Comini’s team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay crossed the finish line in fifth place.
Comini came home fifth in race two, while Vernay finished second to claim another podium. Victory went to local favourite Mikhail Grachev (Honda). Comini tops the overall standings with 168 points, ahead of Oriola (167) and James Nash (161). Vernay is fourth with 146 points.
TCR action in Sochi.
Racing at the Black Sea – the TCR International Series is in Sochi this weekend. The site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games now plays host to top-class motorsport. Spectators at the 5.853-kilometre Grand Prix circuit, venue for Formula One races since 2014, can look forward to thrilling door-to-door battles.
In the thick of the action will be Volkswagen customer teams Leopard Racing and Engstler Motorsport, who line up with the 330-hp Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay of the Leopard Racing, who is currently fifth overall with 115 points, has already won twice this season. Team-mate Stefano Comini may have one win fewer to his name, but he does have 13 points more than Vernay. With 128 points, Comini is fourth in the championship, 17 points behind leader Pepe Oriola (Seat).
Anyone wishing to follow the action in Sochi live can do so via the TCR live stream at www.tcr-series.tv. The first race starts at 13:25 CET, while the lights go green for race two at 15:30.
Second and third place for the Golf GTI TCR in Vila Real.
Manuel Gião (P) and Francisco Abreu (P) brought home two podium positions with the Golf GTI TCR. At the second race weekend of the TCR Portugal, Gião of Novadriver finished in third place in the first race in Vila Real (P). Team-mate Abreu went one better in the second race and came home second. Abreu had already finished in second place in the Golf developed for the racetrack by Volkswagen Motorsport in race two at the season opener in Braga (P).
Zimmermann finishes on the podium.
Podium still not enough: the third race weekend of the TCR Germany series saw Tim Zimmerman (D) finish third in his Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR in race two in Oschersleben (D). It looked for a long time as though the German from the Engstler Motorsport team was set for his first victory in the new touring car series, which is run by the ADAC automobile club.
Zimmermann had led the race, but was overtaken on the final lap by eventual winner Josh Files (GB, Seat) and Bas Schouten (NL, Seat). “I did not expect Files to be on my inside as we came out of the chicane,” says Zimmermann. “But all of a sudden there he was on the inside, and then through he went. That was definitely my mistake. I am really disappointed.” Benjamin Leuchter (D) endured an unfortunate weekend. The German from the Racing One team fought back from 15th to fifth, before suffering a puncture on the final lap and dropping back to 14th.
Leuchter started race one from last but one on the grid, but came through to finish as the best-placed Volkswagen driver in eighth. Victory in the opening race went to Dominik Fugel (D, Honda). Leuchter remains fifth overall with 62 points to his name and is still the best-placed driver of a Golf GTI TCR. Zimmermann lies seventh with 53 points. The next race weekend takes place from 22 to 24 July at the Red Bull Ring (A).
Sixth place for Comini in Oschersleben.
Top-ten results for the Volkswagen Golf TCR at the sixth race weekend of the TCR International Series: Stefano Comini (CH) of customer team Leopard Racing produced a magnificent fightback from the back of the field to finish as the best-placed Volkswagen driver in sixth place in race two in Oschersleben (D). Comini had collided with another car and dropped back through the field on the opening lap. Jean-Karl Vernay (F) was also involved in a crash on lap one.
However, unlike his team-mate Comini, he was unable to continue and was forced to retire. Niklas Mackschin (D) of the Engstler Motorsport team was eighth, while team-mate Gary Sheehan (USA) came home eleventh. Victory went to Pepe Oriola (E, Seat). Race one in the Magdeburger Börde region of Germany saw Vernay finish sixth, making him the best-placed Volkswagen driver.
Comini was once again involved in a collision on the opening lap, before crashing out on lap twelve. Davit Kajaia (GE) of the Engstler Motorsport team was eighth, Mackschin ninth. The race was won by Mat'o Homola (SK, Seat). Comini is fourth in the overall standings with 128 points. Vernay lies fifth with 115 points to his name. The Sochi Autodrom Grand Prix circuit in Russia hosts the next race weekend from 1 to 3 July.
TCR summit in Oschersleben.
It is one of the highlights of the 2016 touring car season: the drivers in the TCR International Series and TCR Germany will all take to the same track at the weekend, at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. They may be racing separately, but spectators can certainly look forward to a real feast of motor racing. In total, nine Volkswagen Golf GTI TCRs will be in action in the Magdeburger Börde region of Germany.
At the wheel of one of the cars will be Benjamin Leuchter. The man from Duisburg races in TCR Germany and is currently third in the table, just twelve points behind leader Harald Proczyk (Seat) and five behind second-placed Josh Files (Opel). Leuchter is still waiting for his first win of the season with the bright red Golf GTI TCR. After an impressive second place last time out at the Sachsenring, the wait could be over this time. Leuchter also finished a fine runner-up at the opening round of the TCR Germany in Oschersleben in mid-April.
“I hope we can back up our performance from the opening weekend. Hopefully we can make it one step higher on the podium – to the very top,” says Leuchter, who also contested the Nürburgring 24 Hours in a Golf GTI TCR at the end of May. “I have worked hard and done a lot of fitness training. The team has worked on the car and we have taken a step in the right direction with the set-up. The team is really determined and everyone is pulling in the same direction. We must now try to pick up as many points in Oschersleben as we have done so far. If we do, the overall standings will look pretty good for us.”
The second-best Volkswagen driver in the field is Tim Zimmermann of Liqui Moly Team Engstler. He is currently fifth overall. The 19-year-old twice came away without any points at the season-opener in Oschersleben, but has set his sights high. “I have finished on the podium in Oschersleben a few times in single seaters,” says Zimmermann. “Furthermore, the speed was there on the opening race weekend. I will not let that put me out of my stride, and return to the circuit with a good feeling.”
Exciting title race in the TCR International Series.
The title race in the TCR International Series is even closer than in its German counterpart. After five of eleven race weekends, Volkswagen driver Stefano Comini (120 points) is just one point clear of Pepe Oriola (Seat). Comini, who drivers for Leopard Racing, moved to the top of the table courtesy of a podium in the last race at the Salzburgring. Oriola, on the other hand, picked up just three points.
However, another man to be reckoned with is Comini’s team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay. The Frenchmen produced a stunning fightback in pouring rain last time out in Austria, guiding his 330-hp Golf GTI TCR to victory having started down in seventh place. This was Vernay’s second victory and saw him climb to fourth in the overall standings. He has 107 points to his name. As such, the overall lead is still within touching distance, as 25 points are on offer for a win. The only drawback at the weekend is that his victory means Vernay must start with an extra 30 kilos on board. He “inherits” the extra weight from team-mate Comini, who won the previous weekend in Monza.
All four of the weekend’s races in the TCR International Series and TCR Germany can be watched on live stream at http://www.adac-motorsport.de/livestream-adac-tcr-germany.html and http://www.tcr-series.tv/.
“The Golf GTI TCR drives fantastically well.”
“I never take a break,” he says. Benjamin Leuchter from the Volkswagen customer team Racing One is competing in the new TCR Germany series this year, with the Golf GTI TCR. He is a busy man and always on the move. The season has started promisingly, with two second-place finishes in four races: Leuchter is the best-placed Volkswagen driver, in third overall. We spoke with him ahead of the third race weekend in Oschersleben (17 – 19 June, click here for the live stream): about the new race series, his first impressions of the Golf GTI TCR and the record on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in the Golf Clubsport S. The man from Duisburg also tells us how his career started as a team-mate of Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel, talks about his mental training with a stopwatch, and explains how you learn to drive the car ‘visually’.
Two races have been completed in the new TCR Germany. What is your initial impression of the race series?
Benjamin Leuchter: This series is cool. Motorsport needed something like this. It reminds me of the STW era (Super Touring Car Cup; ed.). It was absolutely the right step to take in touring car racing. The TCR cars are great and the battles are brilliant. The fans can also identify with the cars, which are similar to the ones on the road. This really brings them closer to the action.
What is the new Golf GTI TCR like to drive?
Leuchter: The Golf GTI TCR drives fantastically well. It steers superbly and gives me, the driver, great feedback about how it is handling. I am more than positively surprised about the way the TCR cars drive, and I felt at home in the car right from the start.
Two podium finishes from two race weekends mean that you are third overall going into the third race in Oschersleben. What can you achieve this season?
Leuchter: There is potential for success this season. This season was a step into the unknown in sprint racing for my Racing One team, as we have previously been involved in the endurance racing championship. We have to learn a bit more about the tyres, as a team. At the Sachsenring recently, we struggled with the set-up of the car on Friday and Saturday. We did not give up though, and claimed second place despite carrying 20 kilos of success ballast on the car – with the second-fastest lap, just 97 thousandths of a second off the fastest time. Further testing will let us get to know the car better and improve performances in Oschersleben and beyond. To compare: Seat have been using their car for two years and, therefore, they are much further ahead in development. We need to continue to develop and test the car this year. The basis of the Golf GTI TCR is extremely strong and now we need to work on fine-tuning it.
What is your goal for this season?
Leuchter: Before the season started, my goal was to finish in the top five overall. After our performances in Oschersleben and at the Sachsenring, I hope that I can finish in the top three at the end of the season. It would be great for Volkswagen, and for me personally, to be fighting for the title in my first season in a new car.
What other goals do you have? Is the TCR International Series an option?
Leuchter: Definitely, that would be a dream for me and is my long-term goal. The TCR is booming at the moment, all around the world. I hope that the TCR International Series – just like the World Touring Car Championship – receives a world championship designation from the world motorsport governing body FIA. It is looking pretty good at the moment, and my dream would be to compete in this world championship with Volkswagen.
You recently competed in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring with the Golf GTI TCR. What impression did you have of the Golf at this classic endurance race?
Leuchter: The Golf is absolutely ideal for endurance events and made a very good impression on me at the 24-hour race. The car ran like clockwork. That is due to the very hard work put in by my guys at Racing One: for two weeks, they worked night and day to get the car ready for the endurance race. In qualifying, we claimed pole position ahead of the Seat works team with Jordi Gené. I was personally proud of that achievement, especially as we did it without major testing.
Let’s stay with the Nordschleife: in the Golf Clubsport S, you set a new lap record for front-wheel drive production cars. How long were you working on this project?
Leuchter: About a year – I was involved from June 2015. Right from the start, our aim was to take this really seriously. We wanted to break the record in a Clubsport S without any extras, without any extra engine power, other tyres or reduced weight. We wanted to drive it exactly as the customer can buy it. We had to develop the chassis for this, which took some time. I also had to develop and adjust my driving style. We were then able to get more speed out of the 310-hp Clubsport S than other cars with more power. We are really pleased and very proud that it all worked out.
Were you under a lot of pressure to deliver this one perfect record lap?
Leuchter: I did feel a lot of pressure, as people expected me to break the record. When I was asked whether I believed that I could do it, I replied: Of course! But there is a lot of pressure and expectation around keeping that promise and delivering the result. But it seems that I can handle the pressure pretty well.
Your experience in the VLN Endurance Championship means that you are ideal for the Nordschleife. How many laps do you estimate you have driven there?
Leuchter: I stopped counting at 1000 laps – that was in 2013. The 1000 lap mark was always a special target for me. Now I am annoyed that I stopped counting at that point as I would have liked to maintain my personal statistics.
Could you drive a lap on the Nürburgring Nordschleife – theoretically– with your eyes closed?
Leuchter (laughs): It would definitely be an interesting challenge. But I don’t think it would work and I don’t think I could do it. However, I like to do my own special simulations: I sit down with the stopwatch, close my eyes and drive a complete lap in my mind. I get close to the real time, but I am a good 15 seconds away from the real-life lap time. That sounds like a lot but is not so much when you consider how long a Nordschleife lap is. Nonetheless, those 15 seconds in real life would mean that I was driving the car into the barriers.
What use do you make of training on the driving simulator?
Leuchter: I use sim racing to get used to new circuits. We have a very good simulator at Racing One. I work in the simulator with our engineer Sten van Rijk to prepare for new tracks. During the winter, when we have no races, we set up a fun challenge with our racing driver friends. That is one of my hobbies, but is also good preparation for the new season. I always say to myself that it does not matter how you push the accelerator, as long as you are doing it. Nothing helps drivers more than training and today’s simulations are so good that you can use them to learn how to drive the car visually. If I have a weekend when I just can’t get the set-up right and it doesn’t fit me or the car, then I use the simulator to learn to drive the car visually. That means that my eyes notice when the car understeers or oversteers, for example. This gives you an advantage over drivers who do not do this. I am a bit of a perfectionist and very critical of myself. I try to get the most out of every situation, to ensure that I have the best preparation. I never take a break.
In part two, Leuchter talks about his first steps in motorsport as a team-mate of Sebastian Vettel, his enduring connection with Volkswagen and his key message to young drivers.
Vernay wins in Austria, Comini moves to the top of the table.
Another victory for the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR: On the fifth race weekend of the TCR International Series, Jean-Karl Vernay of Volkswagen customer team Leopard Racing won the second race at the Salzburgring. Vernay's team-mate Stefano Comini, who recently won with the 330 hp touring car from Wolfsburg in Imola, also made it onto the podium in third place. Remarkably, in pouring rain on the 4.241-kilometre racetrack, Vernay worked his way up from seventh on the grid into first place.
In the first race, Vernay experienced difficulties in dry conditions: The Frenchman started from pole position, but dropped down the field and finished the race as the best Volkswagen driver in fifth place. Team-mate Comini finished eighth, Davit Kajaia and debutant Florian Janits of Engstler Motorsport were ranked seventh and ninth. Victory went to Mikhail Grachev (Honda). With his overall haul of 19 points from the Salzburgring weekend, Comini now moves into first place in the drivers' standings with 120 points. Vernay (107 points) moved up into fourth place. The next race weekend is on 18 and 19 June, when the TCR International Series will compete alongside the TCR Germany in Oschersleben.
Golf driver Comini eager to take the lead.
Tourists around the world are familiar with Salzburg. The castle located above the beautiful old town, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the Mozartkugel marzipan and praline confectionary named after the composer are what instantly spring to mind when it comes to the city on the Salzach river.
However, the engines will be roaring once again just 15 kilometres outside the city this weekend. The Salzburgring is hosting the TCR International Series. And it will be far from harmonious. Wheel-to-wheel duels are guaranteed on the high-speed track. In the thick of the action: The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. Four of them to be precise.
All eyes will be on Stefano Comini. The man from Switzerland is within striking distance of the lead in the overall standings after another win at the last race in Imola, Italy. Spaniard Pepe Oriola (Seat) leads by just 15 points. 25 points are awarded for each race victory and two races are scheduled. A strong race weekend at the 4.241-kilometre track would see Comini leave as the overall leader.
However, Comini will start with a competitive disadvantage in Austria. His win in Imola means that he must load 30 kilogrammes of additional weight into his 330 hp Golf GTI TCR. However, front-runner Oriola will also have 20 kilogrammes on board. Meaning that the disadvantage for Volkswagen driver Comini won't be all that great.
There will be a change in the driver line-up of the two Volkswagen teams in the TCR International Series compared with the races in Imola. The 18-year-old Austrian Florian Janits will make his debut in the TCR International Series at his home race. The Georgian Davit Kajaia will take the wheel of the second Golf GTI TCR of Team Engstler. Jean-Karl Vernay and source of hope Comini will compete in the turquoise Golf GTI TCR of Leopard Racing.
Victory for the Golf GTI TCR: Comini triumphs in Italy.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR remains on course for success. After the triple success in Spa-Francorchamps three weeks ago, the next success for the 330-hp racing car from Wolfsburg followed at round four of the TCR International Series in Imola. Stefano Comini of Volkswagen customer team Leopard Racing won the first of two races at the former Formula One circuit. And there was more good news in Italy: third place went to Davit Kajaia of the Volkswagen customer team Engstler, also with the Golf GTI TCR.
“It was a perfect race. Victory is important for me, in terms of the championship. I won the title last year, and hope I can repeat that feat this year,” said an overjoyed Comini, who finished third in race two to score more valuable points in the race for the title. The Swiss driver picked up 40 points in total at the weekend.
This was enough to see him climb into second place overall, behind Pepe Oriola (SEAT). The second-best driver in the championship for a Volkswagen customer team is Jean-Karl Vernay of Leopard Racing. The Frenchman finished fourth in race two in Imola.
Impressive debut from Belgian duo De Leval/Van der Poele.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR only narrowly missed out on a place on the podium more than once at the opening round of the TCR Benelux series in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Belgian duo Romain de Leval/Alexis Van de Poele of Volkswagen customer team Delahaye finished fourth in three of the four races. In doing so, they scored valuable points towards the overall standings. After the first race weekend of the season, the two Belgians are third in the championship with 66 points and lead the junior class.
Kevin Balthazar/Fred Bouvy of Volkswagen customer team Milo Racing also impressed. They finished fifth in two races and sixth in one. This puts them seventh overall with 28 points. The championship leaders after the opening round are Stéphane Lemeret/Tiago Monteiro in their Honda Civic, who won race one. The remaining victories at the former Formula One circuit went to brothers Edouard and Guillaume Mondron in a SEAT Leon, and Renaud Kuppens, who won races three and four in a Honda Civic.
TCR in Imola: Special debutants and Sunday drivers.
A special type of debut: Jordi Gené is making his debut in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR in the TCR International Series. The fourth TCR race weekend in Imola sees the Spaniard replace Russian driver Mikhail Grachev to become team-mates with Davit Kajaia at Engstler Motorsport. Grachev is switching to the WestCoast Racing team.
Why is this a special debut for Gené? The experienced touring car driver is not only very familiar with the international TCR series – three wins and third place overall last year. As test and development driver, Gené also knows the Golf GTI TCR inside out and made a major contribution to the strong performances of the 330-hp touring car from Wolfsburg.
The last race at Spa-Francorchamps ended in a one-two-three for the Golf GTI TCR. Gené, Kajaia, Spa winner Jean-Karl Vernay and Stefano Comini from the Leopard Racing team want to build on that result in Imola. The TCR competitors will become Sunday drivers at the famous Grand Prix circuit in Northern Italy – but this has nothing to do with the familiar cliché about slow and dawdling Sunday drivers.
Unlike the last race weekend in Belgium, when the two races took place on Friday and Saturday, the lights in Imola will go green twice on the Sunday for the elite touring car drivers. Race one starts at 14:15 and the second race is scheduled for 15:30. You can follow both races on the TCR livestream.
Podium on debut: two runner-up finishes for Yan in the Golf GTI TCR.
Two races, two podiums: the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR enjoyed a successful debut in the TCR Asia. The opening race weekend of the Asian touring car championship saw Chinese driver Andy Yan of the Engstler Motorsport team finished runner-up in both races at the Korean International Circuit.
In race one, Yan actually led the field going into the final lap and looked on course to win on his debut. However, a mistake resulted in him dropping back to second place. Victory in the opening race at the 5.615-kilometre Grand Prix circuit went to South Korea’s Roelof Bruins (Seat). Yan was denied victory in race two by Honda driver Tin Sritrai. Yan’s team-mate Filipe de Souza came home seventh in race one and fifth in the second race.
The Gusto Technik Performance team also enjoyed a fine weekend with the 330-hp racing Golf: Kevin Tse was sixth in the opening race and fourth in race two. The next two races in the TCR Asia will take place from 10 to 12 June at the Chang International Circuit.
Three out of four – podiums for Team Novadriver.
Three reasons to celebrate: three of the four races at the opening round of the TCR Portugal season featured a driver from Team Novadriver on the podium. Portuguese driver Manuel Gião finished runner-up in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR in the opening race at the Circuito Vasco Sameiro in Braga.
Race two saw compatriot Fancisco Abreu come home second in the Golf, which was developed for the racetrack by Volkswagen Motorsport. Abreu was also the best-placed Volkswagen driver in race three, finishing fifth on the 3.02-kilometre track in the north of Portugal. In the fourth race, Gião produced a dazzling fightback, which demonstrated the huge potential of the 330-hp touring car from Wolfsburg: after a disappointing start, the 2011 Spanish touring car champion fought back to finish third.
“In race four, I was somewhat disappointed in the end, as we had the potential to win,” said Gião. “Although I started from sixth and recovered a lot of positions, I could do no better than third, despite giving it everything.” Gião will have the opportunity to prove that the Golf GTI TCR is a winning car on 25 and 26 June, when the Circuito de Vila Real hosts the TCR Portugal.
Anniversary and a record.
It was one of the stars at the 35th GTI Meet at Lake Wörthersee: the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. Developed by Volkswagen Motorsport, the touring car made its first appearance at the cult, four-day event in Carinthia (A). As well as the 40th birthday of the Golf GTI, thousands of thrilled fans also celebrated the new Golf GTI Clubsport S – with 310 hp, the most powerful production GTI ever.
The Golf recently demonstrated its huge potential on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife: the GTI set a new record lap for front-wheel drive production cars of 7:49.21 minutes. At the wheel: Benjamin Leuchter (D), who drives the 330-hp racing version of the Golf GTI in the TCR Germany series.
In glorious sunshine, Volkswagen took visitors to Lake Wörthersee on a journey through time, with all seven generations of the iconic car – from the legendary 1976 Golf I GTI to the latest clubsport version.
Triple success for the Golf GTI TCR in Spa-Francorchamps.
The third race weekend of the TCR International Series ended with a one-two-three result for the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. In the second race in Spa-Francorchamps (B), Jean-Karl Vernay (F) of Leopard Racing won ahead of his team-mates Stefano Comini (CH) and Antti Buri (FIN).
It was the first success this season for the 330 hp Volkswagen GTI TCR and it was the first ever TCR win for Vernay and Leopard Racing – and not far from the team headquarters in Luxembourg. "What can I say, except that I'm happy to have given Leopard and Volkswagen a first win," said Vernay. "My team-mates and I drove an attacking but careful race and everything worked out the way we expected."
In the first race on the renowned Grand Prix track in the Belgian Ardennes, Davit Kajaia (GE) of Engstler Motorsport in seventh place was the best Volkswagen driver. Guest starter Buri, who is usually in action in the TCR Germany, finished tenth; Mikhail Grachev (RUS, Engstler Motorsport) and Vernay finished in eleventh and 14th place. Difficulties forced Comini to retire on the first lap. The next race weekend will be held in Imola (I) from 20 to 22 May.
The Golf GTI TCR put to the test in the Ardennes.
The TCR International Series heads to a real highlight on the race calendar this weekend: Spa-Francorchamps. The track just under seven kilometres in length in the Ardennes is regarded as one of the best tracks in the world by many drivers and motorsport enthusiasts. Not least because it has played host to many spectacular races due to the unpredictable weather and the demanding characteristics of the track.
The third event of the season will be a real test for the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. The many demanding turns, climbs and downhill sections are a challenge for both drivers and their cars. The last event in the TCR International Series was held in Estoril. A track that in part has similarly demanding passages and turns to those at the Ardennes track in Spa-Francorchamps. The Golf GTI TCR was one of the fastest cars in Portugal. Switzerland's Stefano Comini of Leopard Racing finished in third place in the Golf GTI TCR in the first race, and in second place in the second race. His team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay of France put in a similarly strong performance; finishing second in one race and fifth in the other.
With a total of 41 points, Comini is currently in fifth place in the championship standings, Vernay is one place behind him with 31 points. Comini is 29 points off the top position, which is occupied by former Formula 1 driver Gianni Morbidelli, but he is just 15 points off the top three. The two other Volkswagen drivers of Team Engstler, Davit Kajaia and Mikhail Grachev, are currently placed in tenth and 16th place. The 18 drivers will once again contest two races over 30 minutes or nine laps at the weekend in Spa-Francorchamps. The two races will be broadcast via live stream at www.tcr-series.tv.
Leuchter and Zimmermann on the podium in the Golf GTI TCR.
At the second race weekend of the new touring car series ADAC TCR Germany, at the Sachsenring, the new Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR once again proved that it can deliver high speeds. Tim Zimmermann from Team Engstler claimed second place in his first race on Saturday, and crossed the line in third position in the second race on Sunday. Benjamin Leuchter from Team Racing One just missed out on a win in Sunday's race, which was characterised by thrilling duels and numerous incidents. At the finish, he was just 0.910 seconds slower than the victorious Antti Buri (Seat) from Finland.
Leuchter is the best-placed Volkswagen driver in the overall standings, with 58 points in third place, behind Harald Proczyk (Seat/70) and Josh Files (Seat/63). Zimmermann is currently fifth overall with 38 points. The next races in the ADAC TCR Germany series will take place in Oschersleben, from 17 to 19 June.
Seconds out, round two: TCR Germany at the Sachsenring.
The opposition is seeing red. Bright red. That is the colour of Benjamin Leuchter’s Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. The German from the Racing One team shone with second and fourth place in Oschersleben on the opening race weekend of TCR Germany. Leuchter now travels to the Sachsenring in second place in the Drivers’ Championship, with 34 points to his name. This is the venue for races three and four of the ADAC’s new touring car series, which will take place on the weekend of 1 May.
It is ten years since Leuchter last raced at the iconic, 3.671-kilometre circuit. Back then he started from pole position. “I really like the circuit,” he says. “We will try our very best, even though it will be difficult. I am really determined and have my sights set on a top-five finish.” Leuchter’s 34 points in the Drivers’ Championship see him trail championship leader Josh Files (Seat) by 17 points.
Also in action at the wheel of the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at the Sachsenring will be Tom Lautenschläger and Daniel Conrad of the Engstler team, as well as Kai Jordan of the H&R Spezialfedern team. Like Leuchter, they will be out to show the opposition the huge potential of the 330-hp touring car from Wolfsburg. The first race begins at 12:00 on Saturday 30 April. The lights go green for race two at 10:25 on May Day. Both races will be broadcast live on Sport1 and in livestream on the ADAC homepage.
Impressive start for Leopard Racing with the Golf GTI TCR in Estoril.
The Leopard Racing customer team enjoyed a fine debut with its new 330-hp Volkswagen GTI TCR, as the Circuito Estoril in Portugal hosted the TCR International Series for the first time. Jean-Karl Vernay (F) and Stefano Comini (CH) finished second and third in race one.
Comini also produced a great display in the second race, first climbing into third place and then hanging onto that position until the chequered flag. Vernay was involved in a collision, through no fault of his own, after which he was unable to call on the full power of his Golf GTI TCR. Despite this, he still came home a respectable fifth. “We made impressive progress, far exceeding our expectations,” said Comini after the race. “We are improving gradually. All that is missing now is a win.”
Golf GTI TCR ready for the next international challenge.
Next stop: Estoril. After the season-opener in the desert state of Bahrain, the TCR International Series now moves onto the next racetrack, at which Formula One races were held until 1996. The former Grand Prix track at “Circuito Estoril” hosts races three and four of the season.
European touring car champion Davit Kajaia of the Engstler Motorsport team narrowly missed out on a spot on the podium in Bahrain in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR. The Georgian finished fourth in race two in his 330-hp Golf GTI TCR. However, he did show glimpses of how competitive the touring car from Wolfsburg promises to be. Kajaia is now looking to back up this promising display in Estoril. He is currently sixth in the championship with 14 points.
Two of the remaining three Volkswagen drivers also finished in the points in Bahrain. Swiss driver Stefano Comini came home seventh in race one to score six points, while Russia’s Mikhail Grachev picked up one point for his tenth place. Both are out to improve in Estoril, although this will not be an easy undertaking. The 4.18-kilometre circuit has many tight corners and undulations, making it a real challenge.
The second race weekend of the season features two 15-lap races. Unlike at the opening round of the TCR International Series, both races will be held on Sunday. In total, 17 cars have registered. The races will be broadcast in livestream (www.tcr-series.tv) from 12:15 and 17:55 Central European Summer Time (CEST).
Second place for Leuchter in the Golf GTI.
Volkswagen driver Benjamin Leuchter (D) claimed a podium finish at the inaugural TCR Germany race in Oschersleben. The first race of the ADAC’s new touring car series saw Leuchter finish runner-up in the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR for the Racing One team. The German actually led for a long time at the circuit in the Magdeburger Börder region of Germany. However, with just nine minutes of the race remaining, Leuchter was passed by eventual winner Josh Files (Seat) after a thrilling duel.
British driver Files also won the second race on Sunday, with Leuchter missing out on the podium by half a second. He crossed the finish line fourth behind Jürgen Schmarl (A, Seat) and Harald Proczyk (A). The next races in the TCR Germany will take place at the Sachsenring from 29 April to 01 May.
Spectacular debut for the Golf GTI at TCR Germany.
The long wait is over. The inaugural season of TCR Germany starts this weekend and the four Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR will be looking to put on a spectacular show. The new touring car series is set to deliver exciting race action at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. The setting is ideal: TCR Germany is part of the supporting programme for the ADAC GT Masters, the grand tourer championship whose spectacular races are a big draw for spectators.
Six Golf GTI TCRs will be taking part in the race at Oschersleben, and this thoroughbred race car has already delighted drivers and fans alike during winter testing. The Engstler team drivers in Oschersleben are Daniel Conrad, Tim Zimmermann, Mike Halder and Tom Lautenschlager, while Benjamin Leuchter will represent Racing One and experienced touring car driver Kai Jordan will race for JBR Motorsport.
The TCR drivers had the opportunity for some intensive preparation in Oschersleben last week, ahead of the season-opener at the same circuit. During six practice sessions, the 330-hp Golf GTI TCR recorded the three fastest times of the day – spectacular proof of the speed and reliability of the touring car made in Wolfsburg.
The fastest driver was Benjamin Leuchter in his bright red Golf GTI TCR. His team boss Martin Kohlhaas was clearly thrilled with the testing, and with the newly developed car. “The Golf GTI delivered a totally convincing performance during testing. It is a really fast car and looks great too,” said Kohlhaas. "We are all set for the first race. It would be presumptuous to say that we could challenge for the title, but our aim is to be there or thereabouts and we want to be in the top five.”
After the successful tests, the battle for points now begins for the TCR drivers. The Motorsport Arena in the Magdeburger Börde will host two 30-minute races on Saturday (12:00) and Sunday (11:55). Both races will be broadcast live on Sport 1.
Kajaia just misses out on podium in Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
Davit Kajaia of Georgia narrowly missed out on a podium position in his Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR at the start of the TCR International Series season held over the Formula 1 racing weekend. Kajaia, who drives for the privateer team Engstler, finished the second race on the Bahrain International Circuit in fourth place in his 330 hp Volkswagen.
After ten laps in intense heat on the desert circuit, Kajaia was trailing Seat driver Pepe Oriola (E) by a mere 10.265 seconds. Oriola was successful in both races and has now moved into first place overall. Kajaia completed the first race in ninth place, two places behind the top Volkswagen finisher, Stefano Comini of Switzerland. Comini, who races for Leopard Racing, won last year’s TCR championship. The four Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR vehicles will battle it out for podium positions once again in Estoril, Portugal, from 22 to 24 April.
TCR International Series under starter’s orders in Bahrain.
The TCR International Series kicks off the 2016 season at the Bahrain International Circuit this weekend. The racetrack in the heart of the desert also hosts Formula One on the same weekend. As such, there could hardly be a more appropriate venue for the opening round of the international touring car series.
Two customer racing teams will field a total of four Volkswagen Golf GTI TCRs in the TCR. Prior to the start of the season, the GTI TCR was put through intense and successful tests in Valencia (E). Leopard Racing lines up with two of the 330-hp touring cars in the international TCR series. At the wheel will be Swiss driver Stefano Comini, who won six races en route to the title in the TCR championship in 2015, and France’s Jean-Karl Vernay, who competed in last year’s Blancpain Endurance Series in an Audi R8 LMS.
The Engstler team fields a further two Golf GTI TCRs. Georgian David Kajaia lines up for the German team as the reigning European touring car champion. His team-mate is Russia’s Mikhail Grachev, who contested eight races with the Golf GTI TCR last season, finishing third once.
Two races of ten laps, or 25 minutes, will be held at the 5.412-metre track on the outskirts of Manamas. A total of 22 cars will take their place on the starting grid.
Golf GTI TCR to appear in the Silverstone 24 Hours.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR won’t only have to prove its worth in sprint mode in the desert state this weekend – it will also be making an appearance in the Silverstone 24 Hours race for the BRIT team. What matters the most in this race, which is part of the 24h Series championship, is a high degree of reliability – and that’s one of the strengths of the new touring car developed in Wolfsburg. Four Brits will be lining up in the Golf in the A3 class: David Pittard, Julian Thomas, Mark Allen and Martyn Compton.
The stage is set for the new circuit racer.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR successfully completed the official TCR comparison tests in Valencia (E). Prior to this, the first five of 20 cars were delivered to two customers. The cars were then put through their paces during two days of testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Engstler Motorsport from Germany and the W-Racing Team from Belgium, who line up in the TCR International Series in 2016, took to the racetrack for the first time with the new 330-hp touring car.
As well as familiarising themselves with the new car, the test programme also included the obligatory Balance-of-Performance test (BOP). This meant performance tests on the test stand, car measurements to determine the car’s centre of gravity, acceleration and deceleration tests with varying amounts of ballast and an official TCR driver at the wheel. The data gathered in the BOP is analysed and used to achieve a similar level of performance between the cars of different manufacturers, thus ensuring everyone has the same chance of winning. However, this task proved far from easy for the powers that be: heavy rain in Valencia repeatedly disrupted the two test days.
In total, eight customer sports teams will field the Golf GTI TCR in 2016: Engstler Motorsport, Kai Jordan, D&T Drive & Training (all Germany), W-Racing Team, Gtps Delahaye Racing Team (both Belgium), Milo Racing (Luxembourg), Gusto Technik Performance (Hong Kong) and Novaplus Gestão Desportiva (Portugal). The racing Golf will start in five TCR championships: in the international series, the Benelux and Asia series as well as in the German and Portuguese championships.
Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR – Golf for customer sports receives GTI seal of quality.
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR has the seal of quality in its name: 40 years after the launch of the first Golf GTI, the customer sports version also possesses the acronym that, since 1976, has been synonymous with the Wolfsburg-based car maker’s sporting character, powerful engines and maximum performance. Since it was first unveiled in July 2015, the Golf has been hugely popular on the racetracks of this world: all the customer sports models for the 2016 season had already been snapped up by mid-January. The teams can field the 20 cars, which were developed by Volkswagen Motorsport, in up to 16 national and international TCR touring car championships. The cars for the international TCR championship are to be handed over to the customer sports teams from 11th March in Abrera/Barcelona. An initial roll-out with the opposition is planned for the test drives at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia from 14th March.
Successful start: concept car shows great potential at TCR outings
The racing car based on the seventh generation of Golf has already enjoyed success in competition: in 2015, cooperation partner Liqui Moly Team Engstler fielded two cars in the TCR International Series. The production-based concept car showed great potential: at its first race weekend, the Golf promptly won the second race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport: the most powerful production GTI ever celebrates its anniversary
The racetrack is not the only place the Golf GTI is celebrating its 40th birthday. To mark the anniversary, Volkswagen is launching the most powerful production GTI ever: the Golf GTI Clubsport. Volkswagen presented sketches of the new car at the GTI meeting at the Wörthersee in May 2015, before unveiling a production model at the German International Motor Show (IAA) in September. The 2-litre TFSI engine generates 265 hp – that is 35 hp more than the previous most powerful Golf GTI. Another feature of the turbocharged direct-injection engine is a boost function, which allows the driver to briefly increase the engine power by ten per cent to 290 hp.
Volkswagen develops new Golf for the racetrack.
A new powerhouse for the racetrack: Volkswagen Motorsport is developing its first racing car based on the seventh generation Golf. The production-based, 330-hp concept car is assembled in accordance with TCR regulations and is intended to help Volkswagen evaluate a potential customer racing programme from the 2016 season onwards. In order to accelerate the development of the car, the new Golf will be tested under competitive conditions between now and the end of the season: as cooperation partner, the Liqui Moly Team Engstler will run two cars at the eighth round of the Touringcar Racer International Series (TCR) at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.
“The newly created TCR category provides a promising platform for customer racing – on a national and international level. With exciting races, production-based technology and reasonable costs, it offers a new outlook for private racing teams,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “When developing the Golf-based concept car, we are able to fall back on the resources at Volkswagen. This reduces both development time and costs. We will also use the rest of the season to test the car under competitive conditions and evaluate a possible customer racing project from 2016.”
Dynamic appearance: new Golf epitomises racing genes
Visually, the racing genes are clear to see on the Golf developed by Volkswagen Motorsport: 18-inch racing rims, a chassis roughly 40 centimetres wider than that of the production Golf, and a striking rear wing give the Golf a “ready-to-race” look and first-class handling. An aerodynamically designed front splitter and carbon rear wing are also among the modifications for the racetrack. Among the components designed to protect the driver are a racing seat with head protectors, a racing safety cell, and a safety tank in accordance with FIA regulations.
A powerful four-cylinder engine, DSG gearbox with shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel, a consistently developed racing chassis – even under the bonnet, the new Golf has been meticulously prepared for its outings at the racetrack. Volkswagen Motorsport is developing the car in cooperation with the sport department at SEAT, meaning it can call on SEAT’s experience with the Leon Cup Racer. As with the Volkswagen Group’s production vehicles, the MQB platform also offers many synergies for racing cars and reduces the cost of assembling and running the touring car. The two-litre turbo engine with direct fuel injection comes from the top sporting model, the Golf R. The racing version of this engine generates 330 hp (243 kW) and 410 Nm of torque.