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.
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.”
Team HARD. Racing are very pleased to announce that rising star Callum Hawkins Row will return to the Britcar Endurance Championship this weekend at the Silverstone GP round. Callum will be replacing Darron Lewis alongside regular driver Adam Hatfield as Darron is away on a family holiday.
Callum is no stranger to the Britcar championship having completed a full season in 2017 achieving multiple podiums and enjoying lots of successful race weekends showcasing his ever improving talent.
Callum will be at the wheel of a freshly built Ginetta G55 GT4 spec car and will have his first taste of the new machinery tomorrow during testing following a successful shakedown this afternoon with Adam at the wheel.
Callum has been competing in British GT so far this season and will have to adjust to the car that has no ABS or traction control unlike his 2018 GT4 Ginetta.
Tony Gilham said, “Callum has been an integral part of the team for a number of years now and it has been great to be part of his journey so far. He is a very special talent and is developing as a racing driver in all areas. We talk a lot about being the complete package in modern day motorsport and Callum has the ability to succeed at the very top of the ladder with an all round quality both on and off track. Im sure he will once again take this in his stride and form a very strong pairing with Adam who himself has been a revelation since joining team HARD.”
Callum added, “I am very much looking forward to working with Adam and being part of the Britcar championship again. I had a great year in 2017 and had a great weekend at Silverstone last year so cannot wait to get back out on the GP circuit. We won twice last year on this circuit so will be looking to build on that success and see what we can do this weekend in the new car. I love my racing and have been working very hard to improve so can’t wait to see how we get on against the other guys in our class.”
Britcar Endurance at Rockingham brought us an eventful time on a warm and sunny day.
With three pairings of Simon Rudd/Tom Barley (#24), Adam Hatfield/Darron Lewis (#285) and Benjamin Wallace/Graham Roberts (#88) the Team were kept busy with a warm-up session, qualifying and two races in one day. An eventful day resulted in two P3 podium finishes for Simon and Tom, a lost door, a small fire and a birthday surprise on the podium for a very embarrassed Simon Rudd!
Eddy Hall, GT Manager said: “Testing on the Friday was the first time back in the cars for some of our drivers. All drivers were quickly on the pace. I think we were hoping for a bit more out of qualifying but none the less still a strong result. It was a good start to the season for us after both races for Team-HARD with some good solid points and a great result for Simon Rudd and Tom Barley in the #24 car. P3 in both races gave the drivers and the Team the reward for the weekend. Moving on to the next round I think we will be in a better position as we now know more about our competition and our drivers are more confident in the cars and themselves.”
Simon Rudd – “It was great to be back out racing again. We knew the weekend would be tough against the three upgraded 2017 cars but we were still aiming for the podium.
We restricted our warm-up to 3 laps and also our qualifying plan was to run as short as possible. Although there were some red flags that messed the plan up slightly, we still managed P3 which we were happy with.
Race 1 was a solid start with a P3 finish and some good points. Race 2 was great for us as we worked hard to get P3 in the overall race. It was slightly harder with safety cars and the competition but we made it work to our advantage.
Overall, a really solid start to our season with 2 podium finishes. Hopefully we can continue the good form!”
Tom Barley – “What a great weekends’ racing to kick the season off!! P3 was the theme of the day, with us taking that position across qualifying, race 1 and race 2. Despite our pace being competitive, even compared with British GT, we were struggling to match the seemingly super-fast and newer Ginettas. Both Simon and I had some great battles on track, and once again showed we are here to try and take the big pot home at the end of the year!
Thanks to everyone at Team-HARD for a faultless weekend on and off track. Wins incoming at Silverstone!”
Adam Hatfield – “It has been a challenging weekend for the opening Britcar Endurance round. A lack of Ginetta winter testing certainly hindered our results whilst struggling to get the feel back through the brakes! However it certainly started to come through during the weekend.
Race 1 we finished in a solid 4th place which is all good points towards the Championship. However race 2 we had much better pace and we built a healthy gap in 3rd. Unfortunately contact robbed us of a class podium resulting in the #285 Ginetta having to pit with damage which lead to a fire! Darron however put in a great performance to salvage another 4th in class. All things considered I think we did ok and salvaged what we could.
Mine and Darron’s pace in race 2 certainly shows what we can do.”
Darron Lewis – Saturday didn’t quite get off to the best start as we lost one of the doors in qualifying, so we struggled with pace. We got off to a good start in Race 1, making up some positions. Then I handed the car over to Adam, who did a great job gaining even more places. We were changing the set-up all weekend to find a nice balance. We tried a set-up change for Race 2 and the car was much better. Adam started the stint and, with a storming drive, he got us up to 3rd in class before the safety car was deployed for an incident. Just before the restart Adam got tagged by a BMW meaning he had to pit early. As he came down the pit lane the car was on fire so we thought it was all over! But thanks to Aaran and the boys at Team-HARD, we got back out. We were 4 laps down but I was up for a fight so we did exactly what the Team says ‘go hard or go home’ and we were quickest on the track for a while and we managed to get back up to 4th in class.
So all in all I think with everything that we had to deal with, we managed a reasonable result. Roll on the next race weekend at Silverstone.”
Benjamin Wallace – “In the #88 Team HARD Ginetta G55 GT4, I was joined by 2017 Fun Cup UK champion, Graham Roberts for the opening round of the 2018 Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway. Graham will be contesting selected rounds of the Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship whilst I am focusing on my first full-season in the premier national GT championship”.
The Southport-based driver saw the weekend as preparation for Round Three of the British GT Championship, which visits Rockingham on April 28 – 29.
The Britcar weekend consisted of practice, qualifying and two races on Saturday April 14; a 50 minute sprint and a two-hour race, replicating the race length for the British GT Championship.
Benjamin and Graham qualified 5h in class and finished in the same position in Race 1. In Race 2 the #88 Team HARD pairing finished 6th in the Endurance Classification.
Benjamin said that “the weekend was excellent preparation for returning to the Corby circuit in two weeks for the British GT Championship. Rockingham was a new circuit for me in the Ginetta G55 GT4 and finding a set-up for the track, with its high-speed banking and twisting, bumpy infield sections, is challenging. As a result, the weekend has definitely helped us to prepare for the British GT weekend. We found some set-up solutions and the track-time helped me build up my experience in the car, especially at this circuit.”
Commenting on his team-mate for the weekend, Benjamin was delighted at how quickly he formed a working relationship with Graham Roberts. “Graham was quickly on the pace. We both had the same challenges with the Ginetta, Graham probably more so because he’s only driven the car twice. It was a new experience for us both.”
I’m really looking forward to the British GT weekend. The Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship experience was very positive. We probably found out more about the car and the circuit than we expected so it was definitely the best preparation ahead of returning in two weeks’ time.”
Graham Roberts – “For qualifying we took a reserved approach, looking only to do 2-3 laps each then park the car to save the new tyres for the race(s). Ben put together a solid lap putting us 5th in class after his initial two attempts were thwarted by red flags. I got 1 clean lap out of 3 and it was ok but there was more time to come so Ben’s lap gave us our qualifying position of 11th overall and 5th in class.”
Describing Race 1 Graham said: “I took the start for Sprint Race and managed to judge the start to a ‘T’, got a great run round the first corner and with a late dive on the brakes into Turn 2, we were 6th overall and 3rd in class. Now I had my sights set on the two Black Mamba Racing Ginetta’s in front but first I had to get past a Class 2 BMW. Sadly no matter how I tried I couldn’t get past the BMW as although it was holding me up in the corners, it was miles quicker on the straights. After a while I dropped back a little and had a nice gap where I just focussed on trying to keep my pace whilst looking after the tyres for when I handed the car over to Ben. Coming up to the pit stop window, I got caught by traffic both slower and faster in all the wrong places which meant Tom Barley was right behind me as I dived into the pit lane to hand over to Ben.
After the pit stops, Tom’s teammate Simon Rudd came out ahead of us. Ben was able to close the gap to Simon but then had a slow lap, possibly due to traffic and wasn’t able to close the gap again. Ben was then left defending 4th place from the Track focussed KTM which he managed very well but just got pipped to 4th by Adam who was on late charge.
Race 2 preparations completed, it was onto the 2 hour race. “Ben took the start for the Endurance Race and held a steady 5th place in class for the majority of his stint then pitted to hand over to me. Unfortunately that’s when issues began to occur for us. I tried to leave our pit box but the car simply wouldn’t move. One of the mechanics quickly clocked on to what the problem was and fixed it but the hold-up cost us an extra minute in the pits, losing plenty of time to the other competitors. I left the pits and tried to set a good pace to try and close down the gap to the cars in front but had no idea how far ahead they were. A safety car appeared when one of the Black Mamba Racing Ginetta’s suffered an engine failure which closed up the pack. At the restart, I managed to worm my way past Tom Barley as we both un-lapped ourselves from the leader but a few laps later Tom retook the place and pulled a gap on me as I was struggling with tyre wear. A few laps later I ended up taking a trip across the grass and scooped up a marker board at the same time, however it got stuck in front of the radiator grill and the engine temperature began to creep up. Another visit to the pit lane to remove said marker board cost us some more time! For the last 15 minutes, I was trying my best to drive as smoothly as possible as the tyres were completely shot at this point and the car was experiencing some fuel starvation coming out of Turn 2. In the end we finished 6th in class and 8th overall.”
Summarising his first Britcar race weekend Graham said: “My first race weekend in Britcar with Team-HARD has been brilliant. There were a lot of difficult factors for me to contend with, like learning the Rockingham circuit having never driven there before and learning to drive a 2017 Ginetta with ABS and Traction Control. All this whilst being in an uncomfortable driving position all weekend. But I got on really well with my teammate Ben and we could have had a podium from the Sprint Race so everything considered it’s gone really well. I’m already looking forward to the next one, albeit hopefully in a car that is more accommodating to my lofty physique!”
The next Britcar Endurance race is 12th May 2018 at Silverstone GP circuit.
This weekend sees the return of Britcar Endurance.
This weekend sees the return of Britcar Endurance.
The first race of the 2018 Season will take place on 14th April at Rockingham Motor Speedway.
“For nearly 20 years the Britcar Endurance Championship has been at the forefront of promoting affordable and realistic multi-class endurance racing in the UK, in a format where “Gentleman” drivers, hobbyists, professional racers and up-and-coming youngsters can achieve equal success in GT Supercars, production-based sports cars, Touring cars and hot hatches. The multi-class system, two-driver format with pit stops, refuelling and tyre changes involves a real team effort and reflects the true spirit of global long-distance racing.” (http://www.britcar-endurance.com/index.php)
Ahead of the first race weekend Eddy Hall, GT Team Manager, says: “It’s going to be a good season for Team-HARD in the Britcar Championship, coming off the back of last year with a 1, 2, 3 in Class and 2nd and 3rd overall. The aim this year is overall Champions and I think that’s a very achievable goal. We have great driver pairings with lots of experience and a great infrastructure behind them. 2018 is going to be better than ever.”
There is a three car entry this weekend with driver pairings of:
Simon Rudd & Tom Barley (Car 24)
Darron Lewis & Adam Hatfield (Car 285)
Graham Roberts & Benjamin Wallace (Car 45)
Simon Rudd says: “I’m really looking forward to getting back to some competitive racing with Tom (Barley). Tom, Tony and I have been working hard to get some plans together for this season. With our bad luck at Brands last year, it has put us on the back foot but we are looking forward to the season ahead. Our aims are to win the Championship. We came so close last year but it was not meant to be!”
Tom Barley says: “I am delighted to be back for another season with Team-HARD. 2017 was my most enjoyable and successful year of racing to date, with thanks to 5 race wins, a flawless crew preparing the car and a brilliant team mate in Mr Rudd. I hope that Simon and I can challenge for the championship again in 2018! We had a perfect day pre-season testing. The dedication from Peter Farrow and the team to get the car ready was brilliant, and it ran GOOD! Simon Rudd was on fire too. Hopefully there will be more of these man hugs after our first race next weekend.”
Picture – Andrea Hurcombe
Darron Lewis says: “We want to get the best start to the season as possible. I think this year will be a bit harder as the rules have changed a bit and there are a few cars that are proven to be faster than us so we have our work cut out. But I love a challenge! We haven’t done any testing so Friday will be my first time back in the car. So fingers crossed we get back into the groove quickly. Our aim is to win the Championship outright this year. We came very close last year so it is possible.”
Adam Hatfield is: “Super excited to kick off the Championship this weekend at Rockingham, and start the defence of the Class 3 title with Darron! Pre-season I have had very limited Ginetta testing but am feeling very car sharp coming off the back of the Dubai 24H in January and the Aston Martin Racing test at Portimao last month. I am sure I will get back into the swing of driving the car on Friday! I have limited experience of Rockingham in a GT4 car but will be calling on all of my previous experience of this track and working with Darron and the Team. I’m sure we will pick it up very quickly! Bring on the weekend ahead!”
Graham Roberts has recently been announced as joining the Britcar Team. He said: “I’m really excited to be stepping up to Britcar this year. I spent the last four seasons in the Fun Cup Championship where we enjoyed good success with two back to back championships; however I’m ready for a new challenge now. When testing with Team-HARD during the winter, I gelled with the team and car really well so it was the obvious choice to go with them. We decided on the Britcar Endurance Championship as the GT4 category is growing in popularity. I’ll be looking to show my nose at the front with the goal of gaining some podiums along the way. I previously contested one round of the championship two years ago and came away with 3rd in class first time out so hopefully we can repeat that kind of success. Sadly we won’t be able to contest the full season due to budgetary constraints but I’m glad to be doing what I can and I aim to make the most of it!”
Benjamin Wallace is stepping in to team up with Graham Roberts. He said: “I’m only substitute for this weekend. A Friday test day turned into a race weekend. It’s good practice for me and hopefully I’ll get a win! Graham can only do a few selected rounds. I will do those races if I can but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Interview with Tony Gilham post Media Day, Official BTCC Test Day and prior to a busy race weekend over Easter.
This week we’ve had Media Day. How did that go?
We sure have. Media Day was very, very productive. We had a plan that we were working around. We didn’t do everything that we wanted to do on the plan. We didn’t, get the new tyre runs in that we wanted to do but we got all the answers that we wanted at Donington so that when we go to Brands we will know exactly where we’re going to be and what our targets are that we think we can achieve. We’re very happy with the car and all the drivers are very happy. The engineers and all the guys been working so hard in the build up to Media Day it was just nice to get there. All four cars complete, ready, running reliably and importantly for us, potentially very quick.
So we’re quietly confident with what we’ve built over the winter and everything that’s gone into it but it was for us a very proud day because obviously we’ve essentially built four new cars over the winter. We took on a lot. It was a big workload, it is a big ambitious project with the amount of changes that we’ve made. And that includes obviously the whole infrastructure in terms of the team, the setup, cars, the whole lot.
So we arrive in 2018 exactly where we want to be in good shape. And now we’ve just completed the Brands Hatch test we’re now in very good shape for round one which is now just a week away.
So we’ve had the official BTCC test today. How has that gone?
Again a very productive day. A little bit mixed conditions but like UK Motorsport that is something that’s going to happen more often than not. So we have run through everything again we wanted to run through today. We’ve got some very valuable data, some great feedback from the drivers and again we know what we’re working towards today. What we came here to do we’ve achieved. We can take away lots of positives and feel that we’re going to be in good shape come next weekend, which is exactly what we planned to do and hoped to do. We’ve got four cars all in one piece. All tidy, all looking (in my opinion)very good, very attractive and four happy drivers. And most importantly a very happy workforce.
Did you see who’s livery was voted the favourite in our Team on social media?
Mike Bushell – Photo by Hill Speed Images Motorsport Photography
I did see that, it may have been the blue and black car which will please Mr. Wheeler! (Brisky Racing) It is a gorgeous looking car. I mean, I love all of them for their own reasons. Yes, they’ve got their individual colours, they’ve got their individual sponsors. There’s a little bit of uniformity going across the Team. So they are essentially showing that they’re all our cars but trying to keep everybody happy is not always the easiest thing to do when it comes to multiple partners and sponsors that are on the car but we’ve tried to keep it a little bit more corporate this year. So we feel we’ve produced what is an attractive looking car. In my opinion the best looking cars on the grid. I would say that, I may be biased but I think they look stunning. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s some other very good looking cars out there but at the end of the day this is all part of the show that we’re all putting on and it’s it’s great to see people making the effort.
There’s a bit of disappointment from a few of the fans with the lack of pink.
Yes that’s been said quite a lot because the green and pink obviously runs through the Team-HARD. veins. But at the end of the day that will never go away. The pink bobble hats, all the stuff. The pink ribbons will be put on the car for next weekend, which is where the pink came from, our Breast Cancer support. I would love to see just four green and pink cars go around the track from a very sort of selfish point of view and just because that’s where it all began. But at the same time we rely on drivers and sponsors and partners and so many people that contribute to the whole ship and operation. It’s a big old operation now so we have to work with people to make sure that we produce cars that are in the corporate colours of the companies that we are working with.
So yes, in an ideal world, there will be more green and pink going on but there’s reasons why there isn’t. And it’s growing up, we’re maturing, we’re evolving and there’s lots of other things away from just the Touring Cars where you’ll see the green and pink feature quite heavily. So there’s a whole new performance range coming. There’s a whole new cleaning product range coming. And there’s a whole different area of clothing. So we’ve got #HARDwear, #HARDstyle, #HARDperformance, there’s there’s a lot of Team-HARD. themed things that will be going on aside from just Touring Cars. We compete in lots of different series now and it’s something that will never, never go away, it will stay with us and there’s lots of exciting things happening behind the scenes that will be launched imminently.
So that leads us onto the busy weekend coming up with VW Racing Cup at Silverstone and the British GT Championship at Oulton Park. Are things looking equally as positive and promising in those areas?
Yes they are. We’ve got VW this weekend, for the first time alongside TCR which will be interesting to see how that goes. We’ve got very quick drivers in the team. Obviously, we’ve got our Scholarship winner with young Ethan Hammerton making his debut with us. He’s only 17. Toby Davis is back. Mark Wakefield, Jamie Bond. So it’s a very, very strong line up. So we’ve got a very strong team going into the VW cup to defend the title that obviously Bobby Thompson won last year.
British GT is the same weekend. We make a very warm welcome back this weekend to Will Phillips. Unfortunately, Nick Worm is not available this weekend due to personal reasons but he will be filling in alongside Ben Wallace. So that’s an interesting line up in a silver, silver pairing. Obviously, Anna Walewska and Callum Hawkins-Row make up the other (Pro/Am) pairing. So decent line-ups.
The balance of performance has not been very favourable for us in the Ginettas. So we will struggle in GT. There’s only 4 Ginettas on the grid this year and it does seem to be evolving in the higher mark of car being more favorable in terms of McLaren’s and BMW, which I understand. However, the Ginetta is still a very capable car. It’s just interesting to see where we go or how we fare now the new BOP (Balance of Performance) is out with the new throttle bodies and everything so it’s interesting. I’d like to say we’re in very good shape in terms of competitiveness, but whilst we’re very prepared as a team and our drivers are great, I’m not sure that we’ve got the right BOP that will allow us to compete at the front.
So there’s some decisions to be made going forwards for 2019?
Yes, there is. I mean, we look at all sorts of options and we’ve got a decent relationship with Ginetta. We’ve got the Ginetta Supercup running alongside Touring Cars. We’ve got 8 Ginettas in total, including Britcar. So we’ve we’ve got a big commitment and sensible relationship with Ginetta, but I’m not sure how long that can stand in British GT. So the GT4 category is very,very strong and I don’t know what the best thing to do is at this stage. I feel we’ve got a competitive package but it comes down to the BOP which is issued on a round by round basis. But from I guess any mark they will always want more because as a racing driver all you want to do is win and if you feel that it’s not possible to win with the performance that you’ve been you’ve been given then is frustrating. But that’s what it is, we’re part of the championship and we have to abide by the rules and the regulations that are set. So we give it our all and hopefully it’s good enough on the day because anything can happen in motorsport as we all know. So we’ll see, we’ll play it by ear.
Good luck to all of our guys and I’ll be up and down this weekend, trying to visit everybody. So from here I’m going to try and get to Oulton and to Silverstone this weekend at some point. It’s a long weekend over Easter but I also want to support everybody.