Five quick youngsters are being groomed for a potential race place in the born-again carsales TCR Australia Series in January.
They are being tested and assessed by the HMO Customer Racing team as it readies a three-car attack on the 2021 championship.
Nathan Morcom is confirmed for one of the team’s Hyundai i30 TCR hotrod hatches but there could be two more grid slots available with defending TCR champion Will Brown unlikely to return because of his Supercars commitments as the lead driver at Erebus Motorsport.
“We’re trying to run three cars. We’ve had five kids to test, they were all good and we’ve got three in mind,” the owner of the crack Hyundai squad, Barry Morcom, reveals to Race News.
“We gave them a run at Wakefield Park. They did well.
“I need to get it right. And part of that is making sure we have the right guys in the cars.”
One of the hopefuls is Josh Buchan, who has been quick in the Hyundai and is a graduate from Formula Ford who won the Formula 3 championship.
“He’s fast and presents really well,” said Morcom.
The HMO Hyundai team used the failed 2020 season as the chance for a major expansion program, recruiting veteran Rob Benson as team manager and building a new factory at Campbelltown on the western fringe of Sydney.
Benson first came to Australia with Tom Walkinshaw to build V8 engines for the Holden Racing Team in the 1990s and has been a regular visitor as well as working in the UK and NASCAR in the USA, before landing at the Hyundai world rally championship team in Germany.
“Things are going well now that Rob is here. He’s out front to run it. And it’s good fun,” said Morcom.
“He’s very particular about everything. We’ve built a brand-new workshop. Everything is working out really well.
There are four Hyundai TCR racers in the workshop, including one that is brand-new, but Morcom said the team’s plans were still being decided.
“We are focussed on three cars. I think three is a good number. I could run four, and I have four, but is something went wrong and we needed a spare car we could be in trouble.
“But there should be a lot more Hyundais on the track. A couple could be coming across from New Zealand.”
Morcom is worried that Covid-19 could still have an impact on the season opener at Symmons Plains in Tasmania on January 24-26.
“We’ve got two borders to crossed so hopefully it all goes well.”
On the championship front, Morcom’s early forecast is for another Hyundai-versus-Honda battle after Brown better Tony D’Alberto in the inaugural TCR series in 2019.
D’Alberto and John Martin will be back in the Integra Type Rs, with a bold new blue colour-scheme for D’Alberto’s Honda.
“There’s always something special about starting a new season with a new look,” said D’Alberto.
“The TCR class is a true road-to-race touring car category, so highlighting the new Racing Blue paint colour of the road-going version is a great way for us to show how closely linked the race-car is to the road car. Plus it looks fantastic.”
But Morcom is still predicting a Hyundai victory.
“I think it will be a bit closer than it was the first time around,” he said.
“The Hondas look good but our cars will be just as fast, if not faster. We’ve balanced them a bit better now and found a bit more speed.”