A major shake-up is coming to the TCR Australia Series after an uneven opener to the 2021 championship.
A miss-match among the competing cars at Symmons Plains has led to changes to the Balance of Performance that governs the hot-hatch category across the world to try and equalise the racing at Phillip Island.
Eight of the 18 cars from the Tasmanian tussle has been slugged with extra weight as ’success ballast’ after dominating the three opening heats of the year.
The pace-setting Alfa Romeo Giulietta has copped the biggest hit, with all four of the Italian babies gaining an extra 60 kilograms.
The decision affects the cars of championship leader Jordan Cox, who won twice in Tassie, second-placed Lee Holdsworth, Michael Caruso and Jay Hanson.
But things are not as clear-cut in the rest of the field, as the penalties are being applied as much to drivers as their cars.
The Audi RS3 is slugged with 40 kilograms, in a decision that affects Chaz Mostert – if he continues in TCR racing – and Luke King.
Aaron Cameron will carry an extra 10 kilograms at Phillip Island, but is the only Peugeot 308 driver affected, while promising rookie Josh Buchan will also cop a 10-kilo penalty in his Hyundai i30N, although Nathan Morcom and Brad Shields have escaped a sanction.
Apart from the variations to the BoP, there will be two other significant changes as the championship travels to Phillip Island.
Chelsea Angelo is joining the series and James Moffat is switching cars after a giant crash when his Renault Megane RS was whacked by Jason Bargwanna’s Peugeot.
Moffat is lucky his team has a spare car, but it has needed a significant upgrade after off-season improvements to the French machine.
“The running gear has been stripped out of his damaged car and that will be fitted to his old car ready for PI,” said team owner Barry Rogers.
“Post Phillip Island, we’ll get stuck into repairing Moff’s 2020-spec Megane.”
The GRM crew has also been flat-out with repairs to the Bargwanna car, as well as Caruso’s Alfa.
“For sure, the boys are working flat out. Symmons Plains was a bit of a shocker for us, but that’s car racing. You can’t go to the track and not expect those things to happen. It’s just a shame when one incident does so much damage to your own cars,” said Rogers.
Angelo is arriving for Phillip Island in a Volkswagen Golf that should be much more competitive than the tail-ender Holden Astra she drove in the inaugural TCR Series in 2019.
But it’s only a one-off appearance, for now, as she searches for funding.
“It’s exciting to be back. There were times when I didn’t think it would be possible, but I’m pleased that it has all worked out,” said Angelo.
“It’s cool to be the only VW in the field as well. It gives me a unique edge, but it’s a really strong field this year, so I’m being realistic and aiming for some top 10 results. Anything above that, I’d be over the moon.
“I haven’t raced for 12 months, and other than the test the other week, I haven’t had a lot of seat time, but I have no doubt that I’ll find my groove quickly.”