Touring car newcomers SWR enjoyed a podium-filled first season in ‘tin top’ racing during the inaugural TCR UK Championship campaign this year, and the Oxfordshire team is now eyeing an even stronger 2019 as it heads into winter testing with its race-winning Honda Civic Type-R.
As one of the first entrants to announce its commitment to the brand new series last September, following the purchase of a JAS Motorsport constructed Honda Civic, Chipping Norton-based SWR has been a front-runner throughout the maiden TCR UK campaign.
The highlight, of course, came at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire in September where Sweden’s Andreas Backman steered the SWR car to a famous debut victory as well as fastest lap, having qualified on pole position for the first race of the weekend. The team then celebrated a podium double in race two with third place for Backman.
Silverstone National Circuit, SWR’s ‘home’ track, was the venue for the opening two rounds of the championship in April and former British Touring Car Championship driver Howard Fuller produced a consistent set of results with fourth and fifth, having been third fastest in qualifying.
For the trip to Knockhill in Scotland for rounds three and four, team owner Sean Walkinshaw took over driving duties and on his first ever weekend in touring car competition, let alone front-wheel drive racing, he secured his and the team’s maiden podium with third place in the second contest.
Fuller was back behind the wheel for his local event, rounds five and six at Brands Hatch, and he made it two podiums in as many meetings for the team with his first TCR UK rostrum in the second of the weekend’s encounters – at that point the team held third in the entrants’ championship.
With budget difficulties curtailing Fuller’s involvement thereafter, SWR had to miss the Castle Combe and Oulton Park rounds but made a welcome return to action for the penultimate event of 2018 at Croft where the team starred with the aforementioned race victory and double podium.
Frustratingly, the season finale at Donington Park wasn’t the conclusion the team hoped for due to an unresolved weekend-long issue with the Honda’s turbo, a problem which cost in the region of 0.8 seconds per lap. As a result, Walkinshaw – back at the wheel of the SWR entry – was prevented from showing anything like his or the car’s true pace.
“It’s been our best season since we were multiple race winners in BRDC Formula 4 in 2015, so we’re delighted with how competitive the team has been in our first year in touring cars”, said SWR team manager Ken Page, “Although we did have to miss a couple of events with driver budget issues, to have been on the podium at three of the five race meetings we did contest is good going.
“We’ve been very happy with the Honda, it’s a very competitive car and everyone at the team did a fantastic job all season. Obviously, the highlight was the win and double-podium with Andreas [Backman] but to also see Sean and Howard climb the podium, at Knockhill and Brands, was terrific.”
Page added: “Unfortunately the final round at Donington blotted the copybook, turbo problems all weekend meant we couldn’t challenge, but we felt it was important to still be on the grid to show support to the TCR UK organisers. We’re confident the championship will grow in 2019, thank you to our loyal sponsors for their fantastic, and highly valued, support in our first touring car season.”
Even though missing two of the seven race weekends in the inaugural TCR UK season, SWR still managed to end the campaign sixth in the team standings and the tally of one victory and three other podiums was certainly a notable strike-rate.
As well as preparing to continue in TCR UK in 2019, SWR is also looking at a return to GT4 endurance racing in either the British GT4 Championship or the GT4 European Series.
To find out more about testing opportunities and race options for 2019 in either category, please contact Ken Page on...
Tel: 0845 4020402