iberianmph.com crew had loads of fun at the TCR Series’ races in Estoril last weekend. Despite its relative freshness and newness, the series creates a positive impression. Everything is well organized, the fans loved it, easy access to the cars and drivers (10€ for a paddock pass has got to be cheap, no?). Simple and to the point. Road cars for real people.
We also paid a quick visit to the super friendly Kevin Gleason in his WestCoast Racing garage to ask him a few questions. Here’s what the American ace had to say about TCR in general and his Honda Civic TCR car.
iberianmph.com: It’s not every day that you find an American driver racing in a European-based series, what’s the reason for that?
Kevin: The reason for me was just through people I’ve met in racing a little bit internationally. I found this new opportunity and this new series, so to be involved in it early on was a good way to differentiate myself from other American drivers. It’s a very clouded driver market in the States, there’s a lot of American drivers and there’s a lot of Europeans that are there. It’s quite difficult. TCR is a good way to differentiate myself from other drivers and do international Tourings Cars because there really isn’t any other American doing it.
iberianmph.com: Maybe Dan Gurney in the old days. You feel like Dan Gurney of the TCR?
Kevin: Yeah, we had a really good year last year, a couple of pole positions and a couple of wins/podiums. Now I’m trying to build on the foundations of the last year, but unfortunately it’s been a rough start for me with three DNFs in a row. It’s very frustrating.
iberianmph.com: Luck changes at some point! Let’s talk about the (Estoril) circuit. It is an old school circuit, not too many run-off areas, gravel traps everywhere. Compared to, for example, the previous race in Bahrain, how hard do you push and test the limits here?
Kevin: For sure, with modern F1 tracks you can go out from your first laps, even if you’ve never seen the track before, and push it as hard as you want because there’s not much to hit there, it’s quite safe. Estoril is more of an old school circuit, which honestly I prefer it! A lot of the tracks in the US are kind of old school. There’s no room for error: if you disobey the track limits, then you’re in the grass or in the gravel. I enjoy that, it tightens things up. So far so good, I’ve enjoyed Estoril.
iberianmph.com: What’s the atmosphere like in the TCR paddock? Top secret, don’t touch/no photos F1 style or is it a bit more open? Teams having spies in the paddock and trying to gain some competitive edge?
Kevin: Ah no! Coming from the US, everything is pretty friendly there in the paddock. Here it may be a little bit of a different vibe, you have small talk with the other teams and most of the drivers get along just from a hello standpoint. It’s not super open and it’s not super secretive, but of course everyone is working really hard.
iberianmph.com: What’s the pecking order in the TCR right now and where do you position yourself and the team?
Kevin: I think it’s really close right now, it’s hard to tell two races in and two very different style tracks. I think the BOP is close, they’ve done a good job, maybe it could use a little bit of work. Honestly, our cars are a bit heavy right now, we’ll see what happens going forward. The SEATs are the strongest cars right now.
iberianmph.com: What are the levels of interest towards TCR in the States?
Kevin: It’s not a huge following right now. I’ve definitely noticed that more people are asking me about it, more people are getting interested in the TCR concept and a lot of people are following what I’m doing. It’s nice to see the interest is growing. There are series in US that say they have Touring Cars, but they’re really not proper Touring Cars. I think you’ll see TCR in the States within the next two years, it’s exciting to see the interest is building to have a proper Touring Car championship in the United States. I think everyone will love it: the teams, the drivers and the fans as well.