A new form of tin-top racing has sprung up. It's called the TCR International Series, it just kicked off its inaugural championship this season, and it's already getting manufacturers lined up. Volkswagen signed on just a few weeks ago with a new Golf-based touring car, and now its cross-town rivals at Opel are following suit.

GM's entry into the field is being based around the new Astra just announced less than two months ago, which is set to debut in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbo four with 330 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque, with a wide track and aggressive aero to keep it glued to the tarmac. Opel has yet to reveal full specs, however, it has revealed a couple of preview renderings. Testing is scheduled to commence in October.

Opel Astra TCRLaunched by former WTCC chief Marcello Lotti, TCR is billing itself as a more cost-effective touring car series, running on the international stage but also giving rise to national and regional championships as well. The inaugural championship has already held races at Sepang, Shanghai, Valencia, Portimao, Monza, the Salzburgring, Sochi, and the Red Bull Ring, and will soon hold races in Singapore, Thailand, and Macau, as well. It's even got an American driver – Kevin Gleason of Johnstown, PA – making a solid showing.

TCR does not, however, represent the only effort being made at unifying tin-top racing around the world. Last year saw a new eight-cylinder Global Touring Car series begin to lay down roots. The old European Touring Car Championship gave way several years ago to the current World Touring Car Championship. Northern European series have coalesced into the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, and series like Australia's V8 Supercars, Germany's DTM, and Japan's Super GT are working at unifying their regulations to compete against one another instead of in isolation. All of which spells a golden era for touring car racing around the world, and Opel is right to want to take part.

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New Astra for the Racetrack: Opel Strengthens Customer Racing
Opel developing a racing car for the 2016 TCR International Series

Rüsselsheim. Opel is expanding its activities in customer touring car racing. Based on the new Astra, which will celebrate its world premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) this September, the motorsports division of the Rüsselsheim-based carmaker is developing a touring car in accordance with the current regulations of the TCR series for national and international customer racing.

The TCR series, inaugurated in 2015, is based on a three-pillar concept that includes national and continental championships along with the global TCR International Series – all of which have exactly the same technical regulations. Therefore, a TCR vehicle can be used worldwide without undergoing any technical modifications. The two-liter turbo-charged engines have an output of 330 hp and maximum torque of 410 Nm.

"Touring car racing has always been an important part of Opel. The philosophy of the new TCR series corresponds to our idea of customer racing. We want to give ambitious privately owned teams a platform for exciting sport at reasonable costs," said Opel Group CMO Tina Müller.

The Opel Astra TCR is currently under development and the technical specifications will be announced at a later date. Testing of the new customer sports touring car is set to start in October.

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