Craft-Bamboo Racing will continue their partnership with SEAT Sport and title sponsor LUKOIL, by fielding another trio of all-star drivers for the 2016 TCR International Series season. The team welcomes new TCR entrant and skilled touring car driver, James Nash, alongside Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil regulars, Pepe Oriola and Sergey Afanasyev. The pair were instrumental in helping the team towards a string of top results that saw them finish a close second in both the drivers’ and teams’ championship.
James Nash returns to Craft-Bamboo Racing after a monumental season with the team in 2013, which saw him clinch the WTCC Independents’ Championship as well as a top three finish overall. The former BTCC independent champion and race winner has been a huge signing for Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil, and he will bring a fresh dynamic to the trio this season. Known for both his speed and experience in touring cars, Nash has made his intentions clear, aiming for nothing less than a championship victory this season.
Russian driver, Sergey Afanasyev, will be continuing with the team after making his touring car debut last season. Involved in professional motorsport and supported by Lukoil since 2003, Afanasyev won championships in both Formula and GT categories before making the switch to touring cars in 2015 for the inaugural TCR season. The Russian driver was key in helping the team to secure second place in the teams’ championship, and with his rookie year behind him, will be looking to claim his first TCR race victory in 2016.
Pepe Oriola completes Team Craft-Bamboo Lukoil’s trio, and after narrowly missing out on the drivers’ championship in 2015, he will be the one to watch when the lights go out in Bahrain in April. The young Spaniard was a force to be reckoned with on track last year, scoring an incredible 12 podiums during the season. The Macau Grand Prix saw an intense battle for the championship victory, showing Oriola’s true fighting spirit and never-give-up attitude. With an upgraded SEAT Leon and a full season of experience behind him, Oriola is in a strong position to go one better and is surely one of the favourites for the title this year.
SEAT Sport has been working hard on the development of the new SEAT Leon racer and the Spanish manufacturer has made a host of upgrades to ensure its competitiveness against entries from some of the world’s top touring car manufacturers. The 2016 SEAT Leon receives a new gearbox, replacing the old DSG item with a lighter and more individually adaptable, six-speed sequential unit. A lighter and more robust braking system has also been developed, featuring new front discs and calipers. New shock absorbers are also included to improve handling, while an updated cooling and aero package makes their debut alongside a 100 litre fuel tank.
The TCR International Series will see 11 rounds contested in both Europe and Asia. The series will take to the grid at the Bahrain International Circuit for the Formula One support race on the 3rd of April.