Why you should watch… TC2000

TC2000 brings close racing to some astonishing circuits

TC2000 brings close racing to some astonishing circuits

Long-time F1 Fanatic reader Fer No. 65 tells us all about the exciting Argentinean Touring Car Championship TC2000 which visits some fantastic tracks and boasts a cunning qualifying system designed to produce great races.

First things first. You probably won’t know a thing about TC2000, unless you?re a passionate Touring Car fan. And that?s okay, because I’m sure no one outside Argentina (except maybe Brazil and Uruguay) knows it.

But take ten minutes to read about it – and watch the videos below – and I’m sure you’ll love it.

TC2000 is Argentina?s fastest and most technologically advanced motorsport series. It ranks at the same level with World Touring Car Championship or British Touring Car Championship in terms of racing and technology, but it?s a lot less restrictive. Autosport called it the third best touring car series in the world.

TC2000 offers the kind of excitement BTCC enjoyed during the Supertouring era. It?s a reminder that touring cars races with plenty of works teams, a big number of potential winners every round and fas,t light 2-litre engined cars are never boring.

Cars and drivers

Are TC2000?s cars powerful? Are they beautiful? It?s difficult to fall in love with a series if cars are horrible. Well, that?s a matter of opinions. And in my opinion, they all look awesome!

They don?t disappoint in terms of performance either. TC2000 cars are powerful, light front-wheel-drive machines. Engines are highly tuned; 2-litres, straight-four normally aspirated engines, with revs limited to 8500rpm, and a power output around 350bhp. No diesels here…

The chassis are built from each manufacturer?s medium sized saloon. Hatchbacks are usually avoided, because it?s a lot more painful for the engineers to find aerodynamic efficiency.

The difference between the road cars and the racing cars is clearly visible. Like in the DTM, the bodies are widened and some teams add winglets to generate extra downforce at the front, while at the back a big wing is placed (with some restrictions on its design).

Big low-profile slicks and very low ride height complete the picture. Alan Menu said about the Chevrolet Astra he raced in 2006: ??This car is way faster than the Lacetti I use to drive in Europe. It?s really sad the tyres are rock hard. It?d be amazing to see how fast they go on better ones.??

Seven works teams compete: Fiat, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Toyota, Peugeot and Renault, plus Volkswagen as a privateer.

All of them have a large pedigree in the series, hence the ??win on Sunday, sell on Monday?? policy famous in America is still very much the way to go around here as well, so it?s an intense fight to see whose car appears on the newspaper the morning after. That means every team work hard to get the latest and most modern saloon each year.

Fiat brought the new Linea last year, Toyota did it with the new Corolla as well, Chevrolet dropped their successful Astra last year and started racing the new four-door Vectra. Honda has been racing the Civic since 2007, Ford won the second race of the season with the new four-door Focus, Renault is present with their four-door Megane and Peugeot races the only hachbacks with the five-door 307.

Among the drivers are reigning double champion Jose Maria Lopez, who has come bacl after his broken F1 dream and is leading the championship once again.

Former F1 driver Norberto Fontana was champion in 2002 and Leonel Pernia, Chevrolet?s WTCC driver at Monza last weekend, races a Civic and was runner-uplast year.

The circuits

From late March to early November, TC 2000 travels to the best racing tracks in the country, some of which have featured in articles on this site.

They include the old Buenos Aires Number 15 circuit, used for F1 from 1974 to 1981, with its huge, long loop and back straight.

The cars also visit the new and astonishing Potrero de los Funes course, built using road streets around a lake near an extinct volcano.

The Zonda track in San Juan is tricky and frightening – it’s an eight-shaped track nestling within the mountains.

Most weekends consist of two practice sessions and a F1 knock-out style qualifying on Saturday, and two races on Sunday, with the exception of endurance and street tracks events, which only host one race on Sundays.

Normal Sundays consist of a short six-lap sprint and a long 120km feature event. The championship employs an unusual but rather effective means of deciding the grid.

After qualifying, the grid for the sprint race is determined by a penalty system. The championship leader starts 12 places behind the position he originally qualified in. The driver who’s second starts ten places behind his original position and so on until the tenth-placed racer, who only loses 1 place after qualifying. The finishing order in the sprint race determines the grid for the feature.

Yes, it sounds unfair for the championship leader at first – even if he sets pole position, he starts 13th. But the quality of the races reached a peak since the system was introduced back in 2006.

Faster cars end up fighting for the lead at the feature race anyway, but only those who resisted the fierce battle at the midfield. And those starting ahead won?t miss the opportunity to finally win a race. The complicated system is not applied at endurance and street track events.

Endurance weekends consist of just one race, but it?s much longer than the others and includes pitting for fuel. These endurace races are held at the longest tracks TC2000 visits, Potrero de los Funes, the classic 200km of Buenos Aires and Santiago del Estero.

Two drivers share the cars, so manufacturers tend to invite well known touring car racers from foreign countries to help the locals.

Chevrolet has brought WTCC specialists Alan Menu, Robert Huff and Nicola Larini. Honda has run Anthony Reid and Brazilian Stock Car star Cac?? Bueno, who also raced actively during the decade.

Ford won a race with former Ferrari tester Luciano Burti at the wheel of one of their Focuses. Toyota invited Kelvin Burt once and Jordi Gene, Eliseo Salazar, Rickard Rydell, Tarso Marquez and Enrique Bernoldi have also made appearances.

Street track weekends consist of normal races at the only street racetracks the series visit, at Santa Fe and Uruguay?s Punta del Este, few metres from the beach.

This weekend

This Sunday is the fourth round of the 2010 championship at Cordoba, home of the Argentinean WRC event. The championship is wide open, with four drivers between five points on top of the standings.

It?s a normal weekend, so expect a great race with a lot of overtaking, some broken bumpers, a couple of missing headlights after the fastest cars start from the back of the grid after qualifying.

A new TC2000 simulation based on rFactor?s ISI engine is soon to be released, which could be an interesting way to find out more about the series.

Following TC2000

TC2000 videos

Action from the fearsome Zonda circuit in 2008:

Another exciting race at Mendonza in 2009:

The last round of the championship held earlier this month:

TC2000 pictures

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Why you should watch…

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28 comments on Why you should watch… TC2000

  1. steph said on 27th May 2010, 16:48

    First of all, very nicely done Fer No. 65. It made a great read!

    I certainly hadn’t heard of it before and I feel a bit ignorant now but the cars do look beautiful. It’s good that there are some F1 lniks with Lopez (odd how I associate him with F1 when he didn’t even get a chance to race) and Fontana. I like seeing familiar names.

    I loved the clips too, esp the second one. I have no clue what the commentator is saying but he certainly sounds enthusiastic!

    If it’s less restrictive that BTCC then I’ll definitely give it a try. I quite like torucing cars and this looks like good fun. Thanks for the education Fer No. 65. :)

    On a different note but still non-F1 if anyone watching the Rally of Portugal? WRC’s my second favourite series even if in recent times it has just really been Ford vs Citroen. This round is always good as it has some blind crests and really needs good pacenotes. There was a huge crash with Latvala last year and he rolled about 100 metres down a cliff which was one of the most horrendous things I have ever seen (he and ok were thankfully ok), Loeb vs Hirvonen who really needs a result then the young talents of Ogier, Latvala and perhaps Sordo in the mix while Solberg tries to put Rally Newzealand behind him and get back on the podium. I’m a bit excited :D

    • Fer no.65 said on 27th May 2010, 17:18

      Thanks a lot mate :)!

      it took me a while, but i had a great time looking for good pics and videos!

      Thanks to Keith aswell! :D

      • OEL said on 28th May 2010, 8:12

        Nice article Fer no.65, but when a read about the penalty system, I decided i’ts nothing for me. I mean they are getting punished for being successful! Also, I think it will be impossible to be albe to watch it from Sweden anyway (I can’t even watch DTM, despite Ekström being a 2 time champion, but it’s because I’ve got the wrong channel)!

        Steph, I watch the WRC, and of course Rally Portugal as well. Ford seems to be a bit off pace. Especially hirvonen hasn’t impressed this year, with Latvala beating him. My favourite driver Petter Solbergs crash in New Zeeland was costly and stupid, from a safe P3. Räikkönen is starting to learn, 5:th in Turkey was quite good, outpacing Villagra. But Loeb will probably be uncathable in the championship, and my guess is that he’ll win in Portugal.

  2. Arun Srini said on 27th May 2010, 17:01

    seriously, beautiful circuits, why not an Argentinean F1 gp?

    • Whitty 123 said on 27th May 2010, 19:17

      I’d say because the tracks look horribly dangerous and not up to FIA standards. Shame. I’d love to see F1 at Potrero de dos Funes.

      • Yeah!! bring F1 to Potrero de los Funes! we need another south american GP. People in argentina is very fan of racing and F1, remember this is the country of a five times F1 world champion, Mr Juan Manuel Fangio.

    • dsob said on 28th May 2010, 8:56

      As I’m sure many remember, there used to be an Argentinian Formula 1 GP. From 1953 to 1998, 20 Championship races were held at Autodromo Oscar Alfredo Galvez. Fangio won 4 of them, topping the list of multiple winners. The last winner there was Michael Schumacher.

      And if I remember, is it F3 South America that is still running there? Couldn’t take too much improving for F1, could it?

      Hey, Bernie, ya listenin ?

  3. Patrickl said on 27th May 2010, 17:02

    Nice article. The cars indeed do remind a bit of how the cars looked during the the glory days of BTCC.

    Hearing the commentary in those clips, I think maybe we shouldn’t complain about Legard so much.

  4. I’m sure JV is diving the VW.

  5. sw6569 said on 27th May 2010, 17:38

    Is there a way of watching this online?

  6. Fer no.65 said on 27th May 2010, 17:52

    a vid of the simulator at the Zonda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mhsyy7G4NTM

  7. sato113 said on 27th May 2010, 17:58

    great article! I love that first video too. that red car got beaten up by everyone else!

    you haven’t told us where we can watch it on tv/web though?!

  8. f1yankee said on 27th May 2010, 18:25

    that’s pretty cool. they sound like a beehive :) thx fer n.65

  9. George said on 27th May 2010, 18:35

    Wow, incredible defensive driving by Rossi in that second video. This looks great, just what touring cars should be about!

  10. slr said on 27th May 2010, 19:33

    Before reading this I thought TC2000 was Argentina’s version of NASCAR, that’s what I’d heard anyway. But if it’s another version of touring cars, then I wouldn’t be interested. I find touring cars too slow and not engaging enough.

    • Stealthman said on 28th May 2010, 7:15

      Argentina’s NASCAR would have to be Turismo Carretera, which is a stock car racing series (no ovals though).

      Nice article by the way! I’ve been interested in TC2000 for quite some time – the cars are a bit of a throwback to the Super Touring days, which I love. It’s nice to finally find out some more information about this awesome series. :)

  11. Icthyes said on 27th May 2010, 19:43

    I agree – the cars looks very nice!

  12. Ned Flanders said on 27th May 2010, 20:11

    Good job Fer. It’s a shame for the series that Lopez didn’t get to drive in F1 this season, it would have done its credibility a lot of good. It does look very interesting, there’s a great selection of manufacturers and the circuits look spectacular.

    Is there any prospect of TC2000 spreading out from Argentina across South America, like DTM has done in Europe? It would be great to see them racing on circuits like Interlagos as well

    • Fer no.65 said on 27th May 2010, 20:25

      personally, yeah, it’s a big shame he missed his oportunity because i didn’t want to see him racing here!.

      About spreading out from Argentina. Well, it raced at Interlagos and Curitiba from 2005 to 2008. And it races at Uruguay since 2007.

      But that’s all really. It’s a long way to Brasil. European countries are a lot closer there, so the trips are less expensive.

  13. HounslowBusGarage said on 27th May 2010, 21:01

    This looks great fun and great racing.
    I’ll be following it online on Sunday.

  14. Horacio said on 27th May 2010, 23:53

    Great, great, great races. I went to see many races in the last 15 years, since the category was called Turismo de Carretera (hence, TC, from the time the races were from one city to another on the other side of the country).
    All the main manufacturers are there, plenty of adverstising always, several guys winning races. “Pechito” López is a show at TC2000, everytime. I never had the opportunity to go to Potrero de los Funes, but every race over there is a class in itself.
    Great category.
    OH, and BTW, in most southamerican countries you can watch the races on TV.
    The brazilian Stock Car is also great, I took my kids to the track in Brasilia and it was a very good race. Beautiful cars, too….. beautiful, fast and noisy as hell, what not to like? :)

  15. M0tion said on 28th May 2010, 0:57

    It is like formula ford with panels to bend. I like the Brazilian spec series too. They would have to run the Bathurst diff in the Aussie V8’s at Zonda and it would be both a riot and there would be carnage.

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