Opel Launching New Astra TCR Racer
A new form of tin-top racing has sprung up. It’s called the TCR International Series, it just kicked off its inaugural championship this season, and it’s already getting manufacturers lined up. Volkswagen signed on just a few weeks ago with a new Golf-based touring car, and now its cross-town rivals at Opel are following suit.
GM’s entry into the field is being based around the new Astra just announced less than two months ago, which is set to debut in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbo four with 330 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque, with a wide track and aggressive aero to keep it glued to the tarmac. Opel has yet to reveal full specs, however, it has revealed a couple of preview renderings. Testing is scheduled to commence in October.
Launched by former WTCC chief Marcello Lotti, TCR is billing itself as a more cost-effective touring car series, running on the international stage but also giving rise to national and regional championships as well. The inaugural championship has already held races at Sepang, Shanghai, Valencia, Portimao, Monza, the Salzburgring, Sochi, and the Red Bull Ring, and will soon hold races in Singapore, Thailand, and Macau, as well. It’s even got an American driver – Kevin Gleason of Johnstown, PA – making a solid showing.
TCR does not, however, represent the only effort being made at unifying tin-top racing around the world. Last year saw a new eight-cylinder Global Touring Car series begin to lay down roots. The old European Touring Car Championship gave way several years ago to the current World Touring Car Championship. Northern European series have coalesced into the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, and series like Australia’s V8 Supercars, Germany’s DTM, and Japan’s Super GT are working at unifying their regulations to compete against one another instead of in isolation. All of which spells a golden era for touring car racing around the world, and Opel is right to want to take part.