At the inaugural TCR SPA 500, Red Camel-Jordans.nlcontinued a streak at Spa-Francorchamps, the outright leader at multiple stages was an AM-class competitor, and two former TCR champions produced iron man stints. And on top of that, did you know…?
1. Red Camel-Jordans.nlis the only TCR team finished on the podium at every CREVENTIC organised event at Spa-Francorchamps….
Motorsport is awash with example of certain circuits just suiting certain teams. In Black Falcon’s case, it’s Dubai. Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha is undefeated at Portimão. And in Red Camel-Jordans.nl’s (#101) case, it’s apparently Spa-Francorchamps.
Since CREVENTIC’s first official event at the legendary Belgian circuit in 2017, the Dutch team has finished all four races on the podium, including the Hankook 12H SPAs 2017 through to 2019, and the most recent TCR SPA 500. Of those four races, Red Camel-Jordans.nlhas taken TCR victory at two of them, and was even on course to win the inaugural event in 2017 too only for a post-race penalty to drop them behind LMS Racing Powered by Bas Koeten.
2. …but doesn’t hold the TCR podium record at Spa
Yes, Red Camel-Jordans.nl’s (#101) four podium run at Spa-Francorchamps is impressive, but that still leaves the orange CUPRA one podium short of the record currently held by Bas Koeten Racing.
The Dutch team owner’s eponymous outfit technically has five TCR top three finishes to its name across four CREVENTIC-organised events. They include a win and 3rd place for LMS Racing (2017 and 2018 respectively), a win for NKPP Racing (2018), and a 3rd place for TOPCAR sport (TCR SPA 500), all of which were operated by Bas Koeten Racing at the time. A 3rd place for Bas Koeten Racing powered by Kawasaki in 2017 completes the quintet, and it’s worth pointing out that this record could be even higher has a Bas Koeten TCR tin top been entered for this year’s Hankook 12H SPA.
3. First time Tom Coronel and Pepe Oriola have shared a touring car podium in six years
Incredible as it may seem, given Pepe Oriola’s impressive, race-winning form in
the World Touring Car Cup in 2018 and Tom Coronel’s lauded tenure in both the WTCR and its World Touring Car Championship predecessor, the TCR SPA 500 was the first time both drivers have shared a touring car podium since 2013. On that occasion, Oriola pipped Coronel to 2nd place in the final race of the WTCC season in Macau.
Fittingly, on that day, both men were beaten by outgoing World Champion Rob Huff, who would later assume co-ownership of Teamwork Huff Motorsport. The latter, by the way, finished on the PRO/AM podium at the TCR SPA 500.
In a bizarre but oddly apt bookend, Tom Coronel was also on the podium for Pepe Oriola’s first ever top three finish in the WTCC in 2012 in Portugal, the Spaniard once again finishing 2nd to Coronel’s 3rd. In 4th on that day? Rob Huff.
4. All three TCR Europe champions finished on the podium at the TCR SPA 500
Of the four TCR Europe champions to have been crowned, only Josh Files was absent for the inaugural TCR SPA 500. And in fairness, the newly crowned 2019 champion was just one week removed from this year’s European finale.
Still, his illustrious predecessors – Mikel Azcona (2018), Aurélien Comte(2017) and Pierre-Yves Corthals(2016) – enjoyed fruitful weekends at Spa.Comte helped secure DG Sport Compétition (#308) a 2nd place finish overall, one place ahead of TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing (#131), which featured Azcona on its driver line-up. Corthals meanwhile celebrated AM class victory on home turf for endurance racing debutants, Burton Racing (#46).
5. PRO/AM was the only category not to feature an outright leader
Ignore Red Camel-Jordans.nl’s commanding run to the chequered flag, the opening five-way fight for the lead was awesome! So much so that, come the first round of pit stops – about 45 minutes in – the top four were still split by less than two seconds!
During that opening melee, the lead swapped hands between Red Camels’ Pepe Oriola (#101), TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing’s Fabian Danz (#131) – both PRO entries, GDL Team Australia’s Rory Penttinen (#9). After a strong opening stint, Ferda Autosport By QSR Racing’s Ramana Lagemann (#54) – another AM competitor – briefly took the overall lead during the opening round of pit stops.
As for the PRO/AM runners, Viper Niza Racing’s (#85) impressive run to the category win began from the 16th spot on the grid, while Vmax-Engineering’s Charles Espenlaub (#85) and AC Motorsport’s Vincent Radermecker (#8), both fingertips from the overall lead in the opening stages, couldn’t quite hit the front. Even TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing (#175), despite taking a commanding pole position, had already fallen to 7th come the second lap and was out altogether on lap 27 (check out our ‘Eight Talking Points’ story HERE).
6. Andy Yan and Aurelien Comte both completed stints over 70 laps long
To say the efforts of 2016 TCR Asia champion Andy Yan and 2017 TCR Europe title winner Aurélien Comte was impressive would be an almost sarcastic understatement, given that both, at one point, spent close to four HOURS behind the wheel of the Teamwork Huff Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS and the DG Sport Compétition Peugeot 308 TCR respectively.
Yan, taking over from teammate Neric Wei on lap 334, stayed behind the wheel until the chequered flag (lap 409), wracking up an impressive 3h 40m and 75 laps during one herculean stint. Comte, by comparison, managed even further, taking over from teammate Julien Briché on lap 143 and only handing over to Teddy Clairet on lap 222, having completed 79 laps in the meantime!
7. Holmgaard Motorsport: the anti Nations’ Cup?
Alongside outside victory, select teams at the inaugural TCR SPA 500 were also competing for the first ever EXOS TCR Nations’ Cup. Well, those teams with at least drivers of the same nationality, at least.
Clearly nobody had mentioned this to Holmgaard Motorsport (#3), as the Danish was represented on-track by Jonas and Magnus Holmgaard (both from Denmark), Roy Edland (Norway), Rowan Shepherd (Australia), and Jerimy Daniel (Canada). That’s five drivers representing four different nations, the most of any team competing at this year’s TCR SPA 500.
And speaking of nationalities…
8. The 72 entered drivers represented 18 different countries
Just goes to show how big an impact the inaugural TCR SPA 500 had on TCR series across the globe, more than 70 competitors travelled to Belgium from North America, Europe, Australasia and Asia in particular.
Hong Kong, Macau and China in particular boasted standout numbers, with eight, six and three drivers respectively journeying to Spa-Francorchamps from their homelands. Not only was Hong Kong represented by the highest number of drivers in the field, but only Belgium (seven), the Netherlands (also seven) and the USA (six) came close to bettering it.
At the other end of the spectrum, Roy Edland and Stewart Lines represented the sole entrants for Norway and the UK, unusually, while Magnus and Jonas Holmgaard, Jerimy Daniel and Steven Cho, Pepe Oriola and Mikel Azcona, and Fabian Danz and Julien Apotheloz did the honours for Denmark, Canada, Spain and Switzerland.
*Check out the full results from the 2019 TCR SPA 500 HERE