FIA ratifies merger of touring car series

The World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) motor-racing series has rebranded as the World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) through a licensing agreement with rival championship TCR. 

News of the rebrand was first reported earlier this week, and the change was ratified yesterday (Wednesday) during the International Automobile Federation’s (FIA) World Motor Sport Council meeting in the French capital of Paris.

The WTCR will replace the WTCC from next year, with the championship to run to the TCR technical regulations as part of a two-year licensing agreement between the FIA, WTCR promoter Eurosport Events and WSC, owner of the TCR concept and trademark.

The TCR International Series has been discontinued, as well as the FIA European Touring Car Cup.

Each WTCR event weekend will comprise three races, as opposed to the current two that make up the existing WTCC event weekend. A maximum of 26 entries will be accepted with priority given to existing TCR International and WTCC teams, and two further wildcard entries to be permitted at each event at the discretion of Eurosport Events and the FIA. Interested teams have from December 15 to January 30 to submit an application.

The WTCR will award FIA World Cup titles for drivers and teams but no manufacturers’ title will be handed out.

WSC will retain the rights to promote and manage all regional and national TCR series, or to license them to local promoters. TCR said in a statement that Eurosport Events would seek to ensure that the WTCR benefits from widespread television coverage through international sports broadcaster Eurosport.

The WTCR calendar will consist of 30 races over 10 events across four continents. The 2018 schedule will be revealed shortly. Francois Ribeiro, head of Eurosport Events, told the Autosport.com website that a “very large majority” of rounds would be existing WTCC events.

WSC chief executive Marcello Lotti said in a statement: “We are very proud of this agreement that fully respects the very spirit of TCR. The association with such an experienced promoter as Eurosport Events together with the FIA label on the WTCR represent the ultimate recognition for the TCR concept that we launched three years ago and hasn’t stopped growing since.”

Ribeiro added to Autosport: “When you look at it on the paper, I think it's common sense. He (Lotti) has created a very good concept that has been very successful for the amount of manufacturers that have produced, homologated and sold TCR cars. On our side, we could give the level of promotion it deserves, some financial sustainability also and to plug FIA into this will only give the competition the sporting and technical level it deserves.”