BTCC Round up from TeamHARDThe weekend of Knockhill should have been a great weekend, but Lady Luck was not shining on Team HARD.
With the announcement that VW Cup driver Kieran Gallagher was making the step up, to BTCC at his home circuit and that the ITV pundit and fan favourite Paul O'Neill was also joining him in the RCIB Insurance Racing Insignias and with regular Tom Onslow-Cole piloting the PPCGB/Kraftwerk VW Passat, this had set the forums and websites alight.
Half of the team arrived at the Scottish track on Thursday afternoon to set up the teams hospitality while the other half took a slight detour to Donington Park to give Tom a chance to shake down his car after the carnage that had taken place at the previous round, also this was a chance for Paul to step inside what would be his steed for the weekend for the first time ever, after a few laps, a happy Paul came over the radio \"you fellas sure know how to build a car\". After a few more laps and a few changes, both drivers were happy and the team packed away to continue their journey north to the short demanding Knockhill circuit.
Friday was a nice relaxing day when the final prep for all 3 cars was done and all the team were ready for what Saturday, free practice 1 and 2 and qualifying would hold . . . . . Or were they. . .
Saturday, free practice 1 was the usual affair for all of the crews on each of the cars, scrubbing in tyres and making small adjustments to the car to aid the driver on getting the best out of the individuals car.
Free practice 2, again this went as well as the previous outing, times were good for all the drivers in their respective cars, more changes to set up and final systems check readying themselves for the craziness that is qualifying. But for Team HARD. this was going to be a tough one. . . .
Qualifying, started well for Paul O\'Neill in the RCIB Insurance Racing insignia showing that even though he had been out of the seat for over 12 months he still was on the pace. Kieran and Tom were also doing well and looking good for the final runs to set their lap times. This is when it all changed, with Paul on a flying lap, coming into the final hair pin, Kieran got slowed by another car at the same corner and it was too late for Paul to pull out, a large crash in sewed and that was Paul\'s qualifying session over. Kieran was able to carry on, but with the damage to the rear end it compromised his qualifying, he came in 24 out of 28. Tom by comparison had an uneventful qualifying coming in 13th.
Sunday, Race day:
Race 1 with Paul\'s car getting put back together through the night by the team HARD. Crew, we were hoping for a better day. The lights went out and all the cars got through the first corners cleanly (which is a result at Knockhill). Within 3 laps Paul had made good progress and was just a few places behind Tom, the progression continued for all of the drivers. Paul was being hounded by Nick Foster after a small coming together which removed Paul\'s side skirt, the tussle continued for a few more laps, which cumulated in Nick assisting Paul into the wall just after the final hair pin. Bringing out the safety car. The race continued with little incident for our other 2 drivers, with Tom finishing 13th and Kieran finishing 22nd. Foster was later reprimanded by the officials for the incident.
Race 2, with the damage to Paul\'s car being too much even for RCIB Insurance backed team to repair in just under 2 hrs, Paul had to sit out the second race.
Tom made a good start but with the tyres going off to quickly Tom dropped back the places he had made up and finished where he started. Kieran also made up a few places and was really getting into the swing of being a BTCC driver he finished a very respectable 20th.
Race 3, the RCIB Insurance Racing crew produced an amazing feat and rebuilt the entire front end of the Insignia, Including a full engine change. The team worked very hard against the odds to get the car on the grid, this meant that the weekend was not over for our guest driver Owy.
TOC started the race in 13th position in the PPC/Kraftwerk Passat. Toms race was going well, consistent but a slight driver error under the safety car saw Tom\'s engine over heat & brought Tom\'s weekend to a premature end. Paul went out and did a good job, however due to the earlier incident in Race 1 the car succumbed to the damage. Kieran in the RCIB Insurance Racing Insignia produced the result of the day bringing the Insignia home with a very credible 14th which was later improved to a 13th due to a disqualification of Colin Turkington.
Overall this was not what we had hoped the weekend would bring. We got hit HARD. so we ended up going HOME!
Although the weekends results weren\'t what we were expecting. The team performed admirably and team principal Tony Gilham said they rose to all the challenges put in front of them.