Former WTCC team set to join the new FIA WTCR series
A big name and a successful team: Sébastien Loeb Racing, co-owned by record world rally champion, Sébastien Loeb (F), will put its faith in Volkswagen in the newly-formed FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR). Having won two titles in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), Sébastien Loeb Racing will line up in the WTCR this season. The Alsace-based team has opted for the 350-hp Golf GTI TCR, which won the TCR International series in both 2016 and 2017. Two touring car specialists will be behind the wheel: Englishman Rob Huff, the 2012 world touring car champion, and Morocco’s Mehdi Bennani, 2016 WTCC Trophy champion, who has been driving for the Sébastien Loeb Racing team since 2015.
“Over the past few years, Sébastien Loeb Racing has shown emphatically what it is capable of in touring car racing,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “I am delighted that another successful team, with two absolutely top drivers, has chosen to run the Golf GTI TCR. We will obviously have our fingers crossed for the team, and hope that the Golf GTI TCR will again be up there challenging for the championship in 2018.”
“Since 2015, the Sébastien Loeb Racing team has enjoyed great success in the WTCC,” added Dominique Heintz, who founded the team together with Sébastien Loeb. “The new WTCR is an outstanding platform for us, as the series combines well thought-out technical regulations with a high degree of media coverage for the teams, thanks to the promoter Eurosport Events. In the Golf GTI TCR, Volkswagen Motorsport offers us the ideal car, with which to be successful.”
Touring car champion Huff: “My goal is definitely to win the championship!”
The two drivers are also impressed by their new equipment for the coming season. “I am delighted to be working with the Sébastien Loeb Racing team,” said Huff. “I know most of the circuits really well, and also had a few successful races in the Golf GTI TCR in 2017. As such, my goal for this year is clearly to win the championship – preferably with a victory at my favourite race at the Macau street circuit, which is also the final round of the WTCR season.”
Team-mate Bennani: “The WTCR cars are a little different to the racing cars I have driven previously. However, I am sure that we can challenge for victories right from the word go with the Golf GTI TCR. I can hardly wait for the season to get underway and to take my place on the grid. I am particularly looking forward to my home race in Marrakech, which forms the opening round of the season.”
The TCR class (Touring Car Racing) was introduced in 2015, since when it has grown to about 20 national and regional championships. The Golf GTI TCR is based on the production Golf GTI*. Under the bonnet is the familiar two-litre turbo engine with direct fuel injection, the current race version of which generates up to 257 kW (350 hp) and roughly 420 Nm of torque. Visually, the Golf GTI TCR differs through its 18-inch racing rims and a chassis that is about 15 centimetres wider than that of the production Golf. An adjustable aluminium rear wing – standard for all TCR cars – generates additional downforce. Another modification for the racetrack is the aerodynamically designed front splitter. The car’s safety features include a racing seat with head protectors, a racing safety cell, and an FIA-approved safety fuel tank.
*Golf GTI (169 kW/230 hp) fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 8.2–7.8 / extra-urban 5.5–5.3 / combined 6.4–6.3; CO2 emissions in g/km: 148–145 (combined); efficiency classes: D