With the first few races including Alfa Romeo Giuliettas already completed, it is about time to update the old post for things going on in 2018. There’s actually a lot!
A quick recap: TCR is a specification for C-segment touring car racers that are comparatively cheap but quick and look dramatic. Many different series use them. The TCR version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is built by independent tuner Romeo Ferraris (no relation) and raced in various series, either by Romeo Ferraris themselves, some front company, or their customers. And there are more of them every year!
The big news is that the headlining TCR World series is changing. Previously the WTCC (world touring car championship), officially the higher-ranking series, was in a slow but steady decline because nobody was making the TC1 cars used there. For this season, the series has adopted the TCR regulations, and also the staff who used to manage the old TCR World series. The TCR World series is officially cancelled, and the WTCC is renamed to WTCR, officially expanded to World Touring Car Cup. Apparently it’s no longer allowed to be a championship because the TCR regulations do not allow full works teams.
The Giulietta will be there again. This time it will run under the team name “Mulsanne Racing”, which was also already used for the TCR Middle East 2017 (the Giulietta did not participate in the TCR Middle East 2018). You can actually see that they changed the front bumper a little bit compared to the 2018 car, presumably to improve airflow into the central cooler. I still have the impression that Mulsanne Racing is not really an independent entity, but just some shell that Romeo Ferraris use, since they have absolutely no internet presence. The closest thing I could find is a “Mulsanne Racing” in Dallas, Texas, a company that offers fractional ownership in go carts and which is presumably no relation. But I could be wrong here.
The drivers this year will be italian veterans: Fabrizio Giovanardi, who was champion in various touring car series, and Gabriele Tarquini, who has a history in Formula 1 and was very successful in various touring car championships. Both of them have driven Alfas before. Overall, this is the main Alfa Giulietta effort in the TCR.
But the customers are also still around! First, the simple story: In Italy, V-Action, who ran two Giuliettas last year, will continue to do so. This time they will hopefully be able to run them the entire season instead of only from race five.
The very first race with a Giulietta this year took place in Austin, Texas of all places. This race was part of the Pirelli World Challenge, despite the name a US-only race series with many categories (that usually run independently) that added a TCR division this year. Romeo Ferraris together with one Tim Munday of BAM! Motorsports actually set up a whole import and support business for the Giulietta, to sell it to teams racing there. This makes it the first time that the Giulietta is sold in the US at all. So far they seem to be running just one car, on their own, but it did at least get a fourth place in the first round (but did not finish in the second). The homepage also lists events from the “IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge”, another sports-car racing series whose name also starts with a tire manufacturer and ends with Challenge. The difference, apart from the tire manufacturer, appears to be that this one is an endurance race series. That series also added a TCR division for this year, but at least for the first race this year, there was no Giulietta there.
Then we got the UK, which went from no Giuliettas racing in 2017 to three in two different series. This country got its own TCR series this year, creatively titled TCR UK. The intention is that this will be the junior series to the more higher-spec BTCC (see below), but some drivers will compete in both. The Giulietta is run by Laser Tools Racing, featuring Aiden Moffat and Derek Palmer. In the first round, the first race had a place 2 for Aiden while Derek did not finish. In the second round, Aiden did not finish (ran out of fuel in the penultimate lap while on second place) and Derek Palmer, who was battling technical issues the entire weekend, finished last. So far a mixed but not entirely hopeless start.
There’s no word on TCR Giuliettas elsewhere, but the thing with TCR is that it could always appear as a guest star somewhere. The TCR Europe, this time a full series, looks like it might be a nice spot. I don’t have high hopes for the TCR Germany as a regular, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it as a guest starter once more. And there’s still that one Giulietta owned by Hungarian team Unicorse that doesn’t seem to be doing anything.
(By the way: English-language Wikipedia currently claims that Unicorse raced the Giulietta in the ETCC in 2016 and 2017. That is incorrect. They didn’t get the car until 2017 and it does not show up in any result lists for the ETCC 2017. Unicorse would have liked to run it there, according to some press releases, but that hasn’t happened yet. The ETCC is now dead, but TCR Europe is still around.)
Note that while TCR regulations are also used for endurance series, I have not heard of anyone who wants to run the TCR Giulietta in an endurance series, and Romeo Ferraris don’t seem to be marketing it there either.
The British Touring Car Championship is the “main” touring car series in Britain, featuring cars that are basically silhouette racers: While the body shell is from the factory (and then heavily modified of course), much of suspension, brakes and drivetrain, including optionally the engine, are standard parts. As already announced in 2017, they now feature their own Giulietta as well. Built by Handy Motorsport and driven by Rob Austin, the car is now finished and has done first tests. The team has said that they are very excited about its potential. Apparently the great thing about the Giulietta, in this series that removes almost all technical aspects that make the car unique, is the wheelbase and the short overhang.
Will we ever see the BTCC and TCR Giuliettas head to head to see which is the fastest Giulietta in all of Britain? It seems unlikely, but maybe we can compare lap times once they’ve run on the same courses. An initial look shows that TCR and BTCC are roughly in the same ballpark, at least on Silverstone (based on the one race the TCR UK had so far in 2018 and the BTCC race in 2017), with maybe a slight edge for BTCC.
(Note that Aiden Moffat, from the TCR UK, is running with Laser Tools Racing in the BTCC as well, but here with a Mercedes Benz A-Class. Traitor.)
SA Endurance Series
Can you believe I missed a racing Giulietta the last time around? Even though I found no less than six major efforts? Well, I did, and I want to apologise. The one I missed (and found out about) runs in the Mopar South African Endurance Series, and the Giulietta is run by Arnold Chatz Cars Racing. I haven’t been able to find any technical details about this one, but it looks like one of the more modified ones. Lower ride height, big front and rear wing, but it does not have the fender extensions that make the TCR and BTCC Giuliettas almost square (as if the existing Giulietta wasn’t annoying enough to park in old parking garages already). Once more, it is fascinating how many different ways people find to reinterpret the Giulietta’s front bumper to make it look race-worthy… and I like almost all of them (with the obvious exception of the Mosca/Etruria TCT one) more than the stock version.
The car got an overall fourth place last season in its class and hopes to get even better this year. In the first race, it easily won its category (as one of three) and managed to beat the odd GT4 car, going for seventh place overall. That does not sound all bad.
BRSCC Alfa Romeo Challenge - Giulietta 8C
On the less serious but amazingly still british end of things, we get the BRSCC Alfa Romeo Challenge, a series exclusively for Alfa Romeos, primarily aimed at hobby drivers. It’s far from the only of its kind, and you will generally not find the Giulietta here because they’re still too new. The standard cars here are 156, 147 (both without facelift), and the odd 155 and even 75. Also some Fiat Puntos, which offends me on a personal level.
But they do allow odd cars in an “invitation” category, and being the home of Doctor Who, Top Gear, The Slow Mo Guys and James Bond, you can bet someone has come up with something odd. One Roger Evans is building a Giulietta with the drivetrain from a fire-damaged 8C Competizione he found on Ebay. Apparently the wheelbase is almost the same, so it’s at least in the generally possible category, but it’s still a project that has been going on for years now. The 2018 season preview on the series home page expresses hope that maybe it’ll run this year. Is that realistic? Your guess is as good as mine, but there’s no way I’m skipping a story like that.
Historic note: FIA Alternative Energies Cup
I’m just going to do this quickly because the official website is a nightmare, all the information I can find is italian, and frankly, I just don’t care that much. The FIA Alternative Energies Cup is a rally series for cars with alternative energy, meaning anything but gasoline or diesel. Team “Montecarlo Engineering Racing Team” has run a Giulietta converted to LPG equipment there, as well as a 1990s era GTV. Apparently they had some success in the “other” category. From what I can tell, it seems like the car is stock except for the LPG conversion and the paint scheme. But it has sponsor stickers, a number on the door and it appears in official result lists (I think), so it deserves to be on this list. From what I can tell on Wikipedia, the same series has also seen a number of wins by at least one LPG converted Mito.
Mitjet is a specification for small, low-weight, simple race cars for beginners, with standard technology, standard motor, but slightly different bodies that can, with stickers, be made to vaguely look like a Mercedes, Audi or BMW. In the italian Mitjet series, someone put stickers on their car that made it look vaguely like the current Giulia. It’s obviously not licensed, there are no logos and the four-leaf clover is on close inspection some other shape, but still, this is the closest that car has come to actual racing as far as I can tell. Still more than the Stelvio.
In news that is almost as exciting, long-time bottom-tier Formula 1 team Sauber is getting Ferrari motors this season, but thanks to a sponsorship deal, they’re putting Alfa Romeo stickers on the car and pretending Alfa Romeo has something to do with this. In the first race they had absolutely no success with this.
Speaking of TCR and italian touring cars, remember Tecnodom? They unsuccessfully ran a Giulietta in the TCS spec a while back, and with slightly more success two Mitos in the same class. Apparently they now also want in to the TCR business, specifically TCR Italy, and they want to run with an Italian car they built themselves. But since the Giulietta is taken (TCR regulations allow only one manufacturer for each TCR-spec car), they are using the new Fiat Tipo. I am obviously rooting for the Giulietta over the Tipo, but I guess I am rooting for the Tipo over all non-italian cars.
This weekend (April 7th/8th) will actually feature a number of series that I’ll be looking at:
- The first race of the BTCC
- The first race of the WTCR
- Less interesting but I’ll still look at the results, the second race of the Formula 1.