The third round of 2018 TCR Europe Championships was hosted at the fabulous Circuit Spa Francochamps in Belgium’ one of the motivators for Reece Barr when he decided his participation in this highly competitive championship. In this picturesque location the weekend was initially forecasted for heavy thunderstorms which passed just south of the circuit allowing a full weekend of summer racing. The weekend was a story of 8’s for Reece and while the BOP penalties for all the Hyundai cars continued; the time gap between the experienced VAG cars and the experienced Hyundai cars was 1.2 seconds on a ‘like for like’ lap so with all factored P8 throughout free practice, quali and race two was another strong outing for Reece on his first time to Spa. Reece said before race one “It’s just great to get the opportunity to race this iconic circuit and in my i30N’; it’s just a pity our cars are caught up in this BOP nonsense which is just stopping others from lifting their game which is normal in sport. Despite the added weight and ride-height it was really good to stay inside the top ten throughout the Friday sessions. My fastest quali lap was disallowed for track limits despite being slower in that particular sector which was a bummer but all good in the end P10 for race one and P1 for race two and will take that after my heavy shunt at Zandvoort and my first time around Spa. Saturday June 9th Race 1 - Reece got a really good start from P10 on the grid moving up three places to P7 pushing a really good pace and positioning through Eau Rouge with Paulsen’s SEAT in close proximity in P8 and when Paulsen attempt a ‘venturous’ pass at Stavelot (turn 13) he collected the left rear corner of the No.8 Hyundai putting Reece sideways and causing terminal damage and another DNF for the teenager. Reece later “thanks to the stewards who called it correctly despite Paulsen’s shallow post race comments” Sunday June 10th Race 2 - Reece on his maiden pole position had another really good start going into the first corner alongside his teammate Ricard who got the momentum around the outside and with the pair coming together at Paul Ricard it was good to see the two Target cars head for Eau Rouge with Ricard leading and Reece on his bumper and with a line of ‘VAG’ cars close behind going on to the back straight they just drove around Reece on either side on the approach to Les Combes which gave Ricard a little breathing space; Reece was shuffled back to P8 before stabilising his position at the end of the first lap under relentless pressure from his fellow Hyundai driver Nagy. The opening five laps seen JK Vernay, Azcona and Briche moving forward and Reece holding Nagy for P8 when the safety car was deployed; on the restart with three laps to go Reece struggled for pace and was overtaken by Nagy and Borkovic but still held his P8 position at the end due to Files and Vernay having separate retirements in the final laps. Reece Later “I got a really good start and was a little ‘too kind’ through the first corner which gave the momentum to Kris and with pace of the VAG’s behind I just couldn’t defend on both sides of the straight into Les Combes but I guess it was inevitable anyway and after the safety car restart I just struggled for grip under braking for some reason. Let’s hope the smart people can sort this BOP thing before Hungary or we will have to look at other racing options.
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