Michael Crees in for Britcar ‘into the night’ finale at Brands Hatch
2018 Ginetta GT4 Supercup AM champion Michael Crees will take to the wheel of the Team HARD. Racing Toyota Avensis in the Britcar finale at Brands Hatch. Michael will be joined by Britcar regular Sam Randon in what will be one of the strongest pairings on the grid.
Crees is delighted to get more track time in a touring car. “It’s safe to say that after testing the Team HARD CC and Avensis this week I’ve caught the touring car bug! The Britcar championship is a perfect opportunity to get more track time in the car and get used to front wheel drive which is all new to me after two years in a rear wheel drive Ginetta. The weekend also provides a very special opportunity, driving a touring car at night! I’m relishing this opportunity and would like to thank Team HARD for having me onboard.”
Team boss Tony Gilham has been impressed with Michael’s performances this week. “Michael was quick straight out of the box on Tuesday when he drove our CC at Snetterton. With our #24 car still in contention for the overall Britcar endurance championship I’ve been searching for a driver to partner Sam and help take points off our rivals. Michael fits the bill perfectly and his champion status makes him a force to be reckoned with during the final round of the season. We want to end our season at the top.”
Head down to Brands Hatch on 17th/18th November to see Michael and the rest of the crew in action in what is set to be a fascinating weekend. Furthermore, this is one of the few events held in the United Kingdom that finishes at night. What better way to close the Motorsport season.
Howard Fuller will make a full time return to racing in 2019 and has set his sights firmly on the VW Racing Cup title with Team HARD. Racing after agreeing a deal to head up a two car GKR Scaffolding backed entry. GKR have been very active in their partnership with the team and following last year’s very successful scholarship programme, have decided to continue their involvement with their #BetterFuture racing programme.
Howard will be entering his 8th year of involvement with the team and will return to the VW Racing Cup Championship where he was a race winner on his debut back in 2012 at Rockingham. It was the same year (2012) that Howard made his BTCC debut with Team HARD. behind the wheel of a Honda Civic Type R at Silverstone.
Tony Gilham said, “Howard has been an integral part of the team for a number of years now and even when he wasn’t racing with us, we have remained in close contact and tried many times to get him back on track. Our journey together began back in 2012 and lead to his BTCC debut. Being totally honest with myself, whilst Howard was ready as a driver, we weren’t ready as a team at the top level at that point. Howard is an amazing talent and up until now there has always been something lacking with us as a team which hasn’t allowed us to extract everything from his potential. However, 2019 will finally see what we can achieve together where we are both more than prepared at the same time.”
Howard added, “Team HARD. has always felt like home and it’s great to be back with a full championship package confirmed so early on. Normally we are well in to the new year and still looking at options as to what we might be able to race for the year ahead. It was great to sample the TCR Championship last year but think that this is the right direction to go at this stage in my career. It is very important to get a full season of racing under my belt again before we look at moving up the ladder once again with aspirations of TCR or BTCC. I’d like to thank Tony and my sponsors for keeping the faith in me and allowing us to come back and push for the title. I will do everything I can to make it 3 out of 3 fo
r the team in 19 after winning the championship in 17 and 18.”
Tony went on to say, “Whilst we believe Howard has the potential to go to the very top, we all know that it is very important to build a career on solid foundations. So, the decision was made to hit the reset button and essentially relaunch Howard as we look to take him back up the racing ladder. Howard brings a wealth of experience and will be a great ambassador for us both on and off track so we are very much looking forward to what we can achieve over the next few seasons. With the
continued support of GKR we have been able to put together an extensive package which will give us everything we need to challenge for honours from the start of the new season”
The penultimate weekend of the record breaking 60th anniversary Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season may have been held at the home of British Motorsport but there were few home comforts for BRDC Rising Star Bobby Thompson who left Silverstone without adding to his points tally.
Prior to Sunday’s trio of 22-lap races around the fast, wide open blasts of the 1.64-mile Silverstone National circuit there was a considerable mood of optimism within Thompson’s #19 Team HARD with Trade Price Cars VW CC team, which sported a sleek new black livery for rounds 25, 26 and 27 of the 30-race 2018 Championship.
Not only was the 22 year-old Hornchurch based driver, known throughout the paddock as ‘Bobster’ returning to the site of his first career car racing podium, his slippery shaped VW CC was well suited to the track layout as was the case last month at the Rockingham Motor Speedway where the 2017 VW Cup Series Champion scored a BTCC career best 7th place finish.
However set up issues throughout Saturday’s two practice sessions and the crucial 30-minute timed qualifying period and contact from other drivers in two of Sunday’s three races left Thompson feeling frustrated despite finding considerable extra pace on race day.
“I can’t pretend to be anything other than really disappointed with the weekend as a whole,” commented the current BRDC Rising Star, who battled from 27th on the grid to 19th in race one despite stalling at the start and then suffering contact from another driver after fighting his way into 17th position, just two places shy of the points.
“We couldn’t quite get the sweet spot on the car during practice on Saturday and although we found some extra pace in qualifying, so did everyone else and while six tenths off pole position may not seem like much in the BTCC it is massive and around here with such a quick lap and only six corners it is more significant than anywhere else.
“I made a bit of a mess of my start in race one but we had changed so much on the car overnight that I could take advantage of the really good slipstream that you get here and pass a lot of cars,” continued Thompson who took advantage of a couple of other drivers retiring but had overtaken eight drivers on the road within the first 12 laps of an extended 25 lap race before being unceremoniously dumped out of contention at Luffield, dropping him back to 20th and out of the reach of the group battling for the final few points paying positions.
“I know what happened and I don’t want to point any fingers as I have a lot of respect of the person who basically just smashed me out of the way but I had passed him cleanly two corners earlier and was holding the inside line into Luffield when I just got sent flying. The hit broke our rear bumper, Ackerman plate and hurt the rear balance and the car was never the same after that.”
Luckily Thompson was able to continue and even regained one of his lost positions to take the chequered flag 19th and with his teammate Mike Bushell suffering a grid penalty for the second race, Thompson was promoted to a ninth row grid slot for a second race that should have brought home a decent haul of points nut instead brought nothing but more unnecessary damage to the #19 GKR Ltd backed machine.
“I felt that we were capable of getting some decent points in race two especially as we were on the soft tyre, which was the faster of the two options we had. I was going to be on the hard tyre for the third race so I knew that if I had a good run here I could maybe even get into the mix for the reverse grid for the final race which would help massively considering my tyre choice.”
Thompson made a much better getaway when the lights turned green but never got the chance to settle into a rhythm and continue his progress towards the points as a mirror image crash to that which he suffered in race one caused enough damage to the rear of the car to force him into early retirement.
“I lost two places on the first lap just because I didn’t want to get caught up in any of the bumping and barging that was going on and then as we arrived at Luffield I was hugging the inside line and out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of red on the grass inside me and the next thing I know I’ve got two wheels in the air and a broken rear right tow link. I made it back to the pits but there was too much damage to continue and that was basically my weekend over as far as scoring points was concerned.”
For the second time in two races the #19 were faced with a flat out dash to get Thompson’s car ready for the third and final race of the day, for which he would start 31st on the less desirable harder tyre. Despite carrying a few battle scars Thompson made the grid for what was little more than a damage limitation exercise.
“Despite all the damage I had suffered the car still handled pretty well and I was able to pass cars while everyone was still bunched together,” concluded Thompson, who finished 21st and set the fifth fastest lap of the 13 drivers on the hard tyre in race three. “But there was still some really aggressive driving going on and there were a couple of situations where I had to stand my ground, which probably didn’t make me too popular with one or two people but it is frustrating when you catch people who would rather weave around and cost you both a second per lap rather than race and work together to catch the pack in front.
“I feel like I have raced everyone cleanly and with respect all year but even though I am a rookie in the BTCC I won’t be pushed around. I have got a great group of sponsors who all put their money into my racing and without them I would be working as a plumber with my dad. They have stayed loyal to me and when other people’s mistakes stop me from showing my potential and giving them the success that they deserve it can be massively frustrating so I had to get my elbows out and race others how they race me.”
Thompson returns to his home track at Brands Hatch for the final weekend of the 2018 season in two weeks’ time where he will look to improve on his current position of 28th in the overall points standings, 17th in the Independents Championship and 10th in the Jack Sears Trophy.
Team HARD. and Brisky Racing are very proud to announce that Mike Bushell will continue with the team in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in 2019.
Following on from a much stronger second half of the season so far and off the back of a real solid performance at Silverstone, this is a clear statement of intent as the team look to continue their upturn in performance in to 2019. Topping the times in free practice and a top 5 qualifying time before the lap being taken away showed genuine pace and a drive up to 7th in race one before the 3rd strike and a back of the grid penalty for race two stood in the way of our push for silverware.
The CC has been extensively developed over the winter and throughout the season and we now believe we have a package to rival any other team and driver combination on the grid. We still have more to come and will be looking to build in certain areas where we need to in order to compete at the front consistently. We are still a young family team, but are very determined to succeed at the very top and in Mike we have the perfect driver to do that.
With the confirmation of new sponsor Fox Transport for Mike in 2019, we have been able to get a deal done early so we can really work hard in the coming months to hit the ground running come the start of the 2019 season.
Tony said, “Mike is an unbelievable talent and I have never met a more driven and ambitious driver in my life. He has extensive knowledge about the car and has been a real asset for the team in the engineering department. He is the complete package and one that we wanted to hold on to in our quest to be a top team in the best championship in the world. It is amazing for the team to have a deal in place already for 2019 and will enable us to improve in all the areas where we feel we can really work on over the winter.”
Mike added, “”I am delighted to be staying with the team for the 2019 season. After the struggles early on this year, hard work and the determination to not give up has rewarded us with strong pace and several great points finishes. Topping the timesheets at Silverstone in Free Practice was a real highlight, not to mention achieving the team’s best ever qualifying with 4th place at Rockingham. The key to success in the BTCC is consistency. I always look up to the likes of Tom Ingram and Speedworks who stick together, keep making progress and are now fighting for the overall driver’s title. I see Team HARD. as the perfect place to further my racing career as my relationship with the team goes beyond the race weekends and I have been able to be heavily involved with the preparation and engineering. We’ve become a family and every success is shared between us all. We’ve had some real flashes of speed this year and we have a great winter testing plan lined up to build on the solid package we have now. All of this would not be possible without the help of Tony Gilham and I look forward to rewarding the faith he has in me”
Tony continued “The whole team are behind Mike and we must say a huge thank you to every single person involved in what we are building. We have shown glimpses of pace but now it is time to take it to the next level.”
SAM Randon may have had a frustrating 2018 motor racing season – but the young Ashbourne driver knows exactly what he will be doing next year.
Randon has been signed up by Team Hard – the BTCC and GT racing team he made a winning guest appearance for recently. This season saw Randon struggling first with funding issues then, when he had funding in place to drive a Maserati in the GT Championships, he was unable to find a funded co-driver for the endurance race format, which requires drivers to swap over.
Sam raced and won the last Britcar round at Donington Park with Simon Rudd. This weekend they race against each other. “It will be strange racing against Simon this weekend.” said Randon.
When one of Team Hard’s drivers was unavailable in July, Randon stepped in – and he and Simon Rudd not only won their GT4 class but won the race outright in Team Hard’s Ginetta G55.
Team Hard boss Tony Gilham, an ex-British Touring Cars driver, said: “We’ve been watching Sam’s progress over the last couple of seasons. “It was great to finally welcome him to the Team Hard family for the last Britcar round at Donington.
“As expected, Sam was the perfect choice to replace Tom Barley and went on to win on his debut and put in a complete performance to keep our championship aspirations alive.
“Sam is a great driver and very professional on and off the track, which is needed in modern day motor sport.
“Being the complete package is essential and Sam is exactly that, so we are very much looking forward to building a great relationship moving forwards.”
Randon had stepped up to GT racing from Clio Cup competition, in which he had also struggled for finance. But, despite the big, powerful cars involved, GT racing represents relative value for money for aspiring drivers and, as a team event, the costs are shared between two or sometimes three drivers.
Randon’s 2018 season is not quite done, as he will guest again for Team Hard in another round of the Britcar Championship this weekend at Snetterton, standing in this time for the team’s other car in the championship.
This time he will be racing with Angus Dudley, also in a Ginetta, but against his teammate last time, Rudd, with whom he clearly hit it off.
“It will be strange racing directly against Simon,” said Randon.
“We got on so well at the last round and were very similar paced. But at least we know the team this time and the car so it won’t be quite as daunting.
“Angus is a quick driver so I’m hopeful we will work well together and can be challenging for the silverware.”