Team HARD. Racing are delighted to announce that multiple race winner and fan favourite Jack Goff will remain with the team for the 2020 British Touring Car Championship campaign.
Jack, winner of round 27 of the championship in 2019 will return for another season with Team HARD. Racing of which he made his debut in the series in 2013. Jack will be bringing several experienced personnel to the team to further improve the Kent team’s chances in 2020.
“It’s a pleasure to re-sign for Team HARD. Racing, we made some good progress across the year with limited testing opportunities and with the testing plan we have in place, I am confident of making big strides with the car and the team for the 2020 season.
Tony showed faith in me by putting me in the car at the last moment for the 2019 season, however we knew we would be up against it with no pre-season testing. I’m delighted to be able to repay the team with their first BTCC victory at Silverstone which was the biggest highlight of the year.
I am now looking forward to getting started again with the lads at HQ and my engineer Adam to make sure we hit the ground running at the start of the season.
Lastly I want to thank all of my sponsors and the supporters of the BTCC for making it possible in the first place.”
The team have been working hard to develop the Volkswagen CC which saw an improvement in pace during the second half of the season, consistently challenging the front runners and with Jack at the wheel, took the team’s first ever outright BTCC win at Silverstone.
Managing Director, Tony Gilham is glad to have Jack back for a second successive season and is looking to build on some strong performances in 2019.
“It is great to have Jack back for another season with the team and the Volkswagen CC. 2019 was a whirlwind for Jack after securing the drive just two days before media day but was on the pace right from the get-go and spent the 2019 season as a testing year after missing the entire winter. Despite this he still managed to pick up the teams first overall win in one of the most exciting BTCC races I’ve seen for a while, a moment this team will never forget.
The 2019 scoreboard doesn’t reflect Jack’s performances last season as many times whilst running near the front, accident damage put him out of the points and the race. The fact that Jack isn’t classified in nine of the 30 rounds is testament to the challenging year we all had as a team but that’s touring cars.
We’ve put that behind us now and I’m excited to have Jack onboard and confirmed this early into the winter break, it gives Jack time to run through our winter test programme and make the required changes to suit his driving style.”
Jack will be kept busy over the winter as he works alongside the teams engineering department to bring a host of developments to the all-new 2020 version of the Volkswagen CC. Furthermore, Jack will be present at the team’s scholarship programme to offer media tuition and coaching to its entrants.
Jack is no stranger to Team HARD. Racing and is very much a part of the teams’ history in the BTCC after making is debut with the team in 2013. He drove the teams Vauxhall Insignia to an overall podium plus independent win during his debut season and of course took the teams first victory in round 27 at a wet Silverstone circuit at the end of the 2019 campaign.
Photo Credit: Mat Acton Photography
With the exciting new 2020 plans for the VW Racing Cup being announced later this month, Team. HARD. Racing have made the decision to re-join the Championship.
Having won the VW Racing Cup Championship in both 2017 and 2018, Team HARD. Racing made a late decision in 2019 to step down from the series to focus on other championships. The team also compete in 18 different race series including the BTCC and have a huge following with much success.
The team have invested in a new premises and have a dedicated program in place for 2020 to operate their VW Racing Cup cars. They will be building all-new cars for the Championship and are keen to talk to any interested drivers.
Managing Director, Tony Gilham said”
“After speaking with Stewart [Lines] and hearing the future plans for the VW Cup and its commercial strength for 2020, we decided to make a return to the series. Having won in 2017, 2018 and coming P2 with Mark Wakefield in our car this year we wanted to come back to win back our title. Our plans are to run the VWs like a mini-touring car program with a full works set up.”
Series Director of the VW Racing Cup, Stewart Lines added “This is fantastic news for the VW Racing Cup. Team HARD. Racing have been a regular in the VW Racing Cup for many years and it’s great to see them return in 2020. Our plans for the VW Racing Cup and Sister series, TCT/TCR-UK will be revealed in the next two weeks and it will be fantastic news for anyone thinking of racing with us in 2020.”
Bobby Thompson completed his second year in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with a tenth points scoring drive of the season at Brands Hatch in Kent on a weekend he described as “emotional and very special,” both on and off the track.
The 23 year-old Hornchurch based driver sported a different look to his #19 GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct Team HARD VW at the tenth and final weekend of Britain’s premier race series as he utilised the tremendous popularity of the BTCC to raise awareness for last Thursday’s World Mental Health Day.
Replacing his usual sponsor decals with the slogans #TimeToTalk and #AskTwice in support of the campaign to reduce the rising suicide rate among men in the UK, the current BRDC Rising stars car also displayed tributes to his close friend Lee Carpenter and GKR employee Jon Cook who both took their own lives in recent weeks.
“This has been a very emotional weekend but also a very special one,” said the ever popular Thompson, who is known throughout the paddock as Bobster. “We came into race week devastated by the loss of Lee but by the end of the day on Sunday we just looked back on the last five days and realised it was a very special weekend for lots of reasons.
“I’m grateful to Neil Rowswell from GKR who came up with the idea of taking his logos off the car and replacing them with #TimeToTalk and #AskTwice and I’m also very grateful to the Championship themselves for taking the time to publicise World Mental Health day during their championship deciding week.
“But what has hit me and my family and the people I work with behind the scenes the most is the level of support and encouragement I have had from the BTCC fans themselves. They are the ones who have shared and promoted this and taken time to message me or come up and see me in the paddock just to say thank you and to share their own experiences with Mental Health issues. If what we have done this weekend makes a difference to one person out there who is struggling then it has been worth it.”
If things were busy off the track, they were equally as busy for the 2017 VW Cup Series Champion on the track with the classic 2.43-mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix track providing one of the toughest challenges of the season to the 30 BTCC competitors.
Intermittent rain and continually changing track conditions spoiled much of Saturday’s two free practice sessions with Thompson running minimal laps in an effort to save tyres and with the all-important 30-minute timed qualifying session also afflicted by increasingly persistent rain and two separate red flags, finding a clear lap and the best track conditions was harder than ever.
“I wasn’t so worried about losing track time in practice as Brands is my home track and I know it like the back of my hand,” continued Thompson. “And after a full season we also know where we are with the set-up of our car and the issues we have to work around so my biggest concern was having my quick laps disrupted by other people going off in the rain.”
As it turned out, Thompson only lost one of his flying laps in qualifying to a red flag and finished the session with 18th fastest time despite having to deal with persistent understeer.
“I’m reasonably happy with where we are as it gives us a good shot at getting some more Championship points tomorrow,” concluded Thompson at the end of Saturday’s activities. “Of course I want to be further up the grid and be fighting for race wins and podiums but you have to be realistic and just make sure you maximise the potential of what is underneath you.”
With a bumper crowd on hand to watch Sunday’s trio of 15-lap races Thompson made a poor getaway in race one and completed the first lap in 21st place. By the fourth lap Thompson had already regained those places and was running 17th when the safety car was called out. As the field slowed down spots of rain began to fall and with more moisture forecast more than a dozen drivers, Thompson included, elected to pit for wet tyres.
Unfortunately a mix up in the pits meant that Thompson was delayed by nearly a minute before he could return to the track and with the safety car period over Thompson found himself in 28th position and 80 seconds behind the leaders with nine laps remaining.
“What can you say?” remarked Thompson, whose renowned wet weather prowess saw him reduce the deficit to the other wet shod cars in front of him before the chequered flag fell, leaving him a dejected 21st. “We took the gamble, had a problem in the pits and as a result it didn’t pay off. That’s just racing and the biggest problem we had was that by the time I got back on track, I was nearly half a minute behind the other drivers who were on wets so I couldn’t even make much progress and pass them.”
Race two was another tyre strategist’s nightmare with the track wet but no rain actually falling. Like most of the field Thompson opted for wet tyres but in conditions he usually revels in, a 16th place finish was less than expected.
“The car still had too much understeer and I must have overworked the tyres too early on because by half distance they were gone. The late safety car helped cool them down and I was setting my fastest times in the last three laps and we did gain places so it wasn’t all bad. But I know those are the sort of conditions that really suit me so it’s pretty disappointing not to score a decent number of points from that one.”
The 30th and final race of the 2019 BTCC season played out in beautifully sunny early evening conditions for what would turn out to be one of the most dramatic title deciders in the 61 year history of the championship. And while most eyes were understandably on the title protagonists, Thompson was determined to end his year on a high.
From 16th on the grid Thompson made one of his better starts of the year and maintained his position during a frantic opening lap before attacking the dips, crests and undulations of one of the UK’s classic circuits like a man possessed. Within five laps Thompson had passed four drivers and was hassling former champion Matt Neal for 11th place, actually making the pass for position at Surtees on lap 6 only for Neal to retake the place before the lap was over.
However a nudge from another driver that forced Thompson briefly on to the grass and the fading grip from his tyres saw the #19 machine slip back to 17th place with three laps to go. However a successful battle with former teammate Mike Bushell and then Dan Cammish’s heart-breaking retirement from the race on the penultimate lap lifted Thompson into 15th place for a single championship point.
“That was the hardest I have worked for one point in my career, but it was worth it,” concluded Thompson who recorded a total of 10 point scoring finishes during the season and finished 22nd in the BTCC Drivers Championship. “I managed to take every chance that came my way and my scrap with Matt [Neal] was one of the best of the year for me.
“I knew I was using a lot of the tyre but I wasn’t going to finish the season without leaving everything out there although I could have done without getting a tap from Bushell which cost me a few places. He came and said sorry afterwards and he was my teammate last year so I know it was nothing intentional and it is just a shame that I didn’t have much of the tyre left to fight back in the last few laps. But things worked out for me elsewhere and at least I can say I finished the season in the points.”
In addition to his 22nd place in the main drivers’ championship, Thompson claimed 10th place in the Independent Drivers’ standings, 11th in the Dunlop Forever Forward rankings and 3rd in the Jack Sears Trophy with a total of 1 JST win, a trio of second place finishes and nine third place efforts.
“We have had plenty of ups and downs this year,” stated Thompson, who scored main championship points in six of the ten race weekends. “It is fair to say there have probably been more downs than we would have liked but I’ve got two top ten finishes, loads more experience under my belt and the hunger to come back next year and get on the podium.
“I’ve got to thank my Team HARD crew for sticking with me when things weren’t going as well as we wanted them to and all the people who have sponsored us this year. Without them I wouldn’t be racing and so I hope we have made them happy and of course my family who go through every emotion with me. Bring on 2020.”
Michael Crees signed off his maiden season in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship in style this past weekend (October 5/6), producing a battling performance around the iconic Grand Prix layout of Brands Hatch.
Entering the weekend riding a wave of momentum after claiming a sensational first-ever top ten finish at Silverstone last time out, the Team HARD driver returned to his home circuit in Kent optimistic of adding to his points tally.
Persistent rain added further spice to the action throughout the weekend, with the wet weather intensifying during a frenetic qualifying session on Saturday. Struggling with the balance of his Volkswagen CC, the 35-year-old ultimately powered his way to 28th on the grid for the opening encounter.
Race one on Sunday proved to be one of attrition as mid-race rain added further excitement to proceedings. Running just outside of the top 20, the Premier Contract Supplies and Burlington Bathrooms sponsored driver was one of several to dive into the pit-lane at the halfway stage and bolt on a set of wet tyres.
Unfortunately, the Broadstairs based racer would have to queue behind a team-mate to get his new tyres and that ultimately cost him dear, leaving him to finish a lap down at the chequered flag.
With track conditions still on a knife-edge, Crees took the gamble to run slick tyres in the second encounter whilst a majority of others stuck with wets. Unable to utilise them, despite the track drying considerably in the final few laps, the former two-time Ginetta champion crossed the line in 23rd.
Unfortunately, Crees’ season-finale came to a premature end as, on the fringe of the top 20, he was forced to pit due to a mechanical issue – a frustrating end for the Geberit UK, Hansgrohe, DPC Group, DDS Demolition, Merlyn Showering, SMG Croydon, MVC Events, MJ Plumbing and Imperial Render supported ace.
Crees has firmly become a fans favourite in his maiden BTCC campaign, and finishes the year as the top rookie in the championship after claiming two points finishes; a stunning debut result at Brands Hatch and his memorable ninth place finish at Silverstone.
Michael Crees: “What a weekend, what a season! We pretty much had weather of all sorts at Brands Hatch and for us, we gave it a good go, gambled on tyres but the dice didn’t roll our way unfortunately.
“Overall, I’m over the moon with how my first season in the BTCC has gone. Joining the grid has been a dream come true and I firstly have to say a huge thank you to my family, friends, team, loyal sponsors and partners – because they’ve helped make it possible.
“This championship is so competitive and like everyone, we’ve had our highs and lows along the way. To come away with points and a top ten finish is unbelievable; I had goals I wanted to achieve at the start of the year and I’ve achieved every single one of them.
“I’m heading into the winter in high spirits and I know that the BTCC is where I want to be for next year. We’ve got some options to look over and I’m confident that if I return next year that I can become a regular in the points.”
Following the announcement last week that current BTCC cars are eligible to enter the final round of the Dunlop Touring Car Trophy (TCT) / TCR-UK, Team Hard. Racing will enter three VW CCs with drivers Josh Coggan, Darren Lewis and Paul Taylor.
With the BTCC season now over, the cars are available for this weekend at Donington Park. The team have decided to enter the series to assess driver options ahead of the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
Team HARD. Racing Managing Director Tony Gilham is looking forward to seeing how fresh some fresh talents get on with the Volkswagen CC’s. “It was a no brainer for us to enter the TCT series this coming weekend. We’ve had a strong end to our BTCC campaign, and this presented a great opportunity to assess potential drivers for the 2020 season as well as start next seasons developments.”
Josh Coggan, who raced in the VW Racing Cup this season said:
“I’ve just been speaking with Tony [Gilham] and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s something I’ve wanted to go for a long, long time and I was hoping in the next year or two to get into Touring cars. Thanks to Tony for giving me the opportunity to get my feet into one and have a go.“
Asked about how he thinks the weekend will go:
“I’m nervous about it to be honest, obviously never having driven anything other than the Golf, but I guess driving just comes to me naturally in a way and like most drivers I try to just adapt to whatever environment I’m in. I’ll think we’ll be ok, I don’t expect to be near the front but I’d be happy with a mid-pack finish.“
Darren Lewis, who has been racing in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup this season said:
“It’s a bit of a bucket list item for me. I’ve always wanted to race a real touring car, but I didn’t think it would happen. I race with Team HARD in the Ginetta Supercup and Tony offered me the chance to do a round. I don’t know how good I’ll be but I’m really looking forward to it!”
Paul Taylor, who’s been racing in the GT4 Supercup this season said:
“I’m really looking forward to getting out in the car. I did a bit of testing in the touring car at the end of last year at Snetterton and then later at Brands and it went reasonably well. I’d like to think we’ll be competitive and we should have some fun!”
Championship Promoter, Stewart Lines added:
“It’s great to see new drivers out for our final round at Donington. As I have said before, this series is designed to give people the chance to race a Touring Car and Tony Gilham and Team Hard. Racing are doing just that.”
The Donington weekend is the 19-20 October and you’ll be able to watch the racing live on Facebook and YouTube under TCR-UK.
Second year Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship driver Bobby Thompson will carry the 2019 World Mental Health Day Mental Health Awareness hash tags #TimeToTalk and #AskTwice on his #19 GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct Team HARD VW during this weekend’s season finale at Brands Hatch.
Today (Thursday) is World Mental Health Day and this year’s focus is on Suicide Prevention. Suicide is the most common cause of death among men aged between 20 and 49 in the UK and of the 6507 recorded suicides in the UK in 2018, three quarters of them were men. Last year, on average, 18 people per day committed suicide in the UK.
Sadly in recent weeks Thompson’s training partner and long-time family friend Mr Lee Carpenter as well as a colleague of Thompson’s principle sponsor GKR Scaffolding Mr John Cook, have taken their own lives and in addition to #TimeToTalk and #AskTwice being displayed prominently on Thompson’s car, the 23 year-old Hornchurch based driver will also carry both men’s as a mark of respect to them and their families.
“In the last week my family have been devastated by Lee’s passing and so I understand the emotions you go through when someone very close to you takes their own life,” commented Thompson. “You just wish they had spoken to you and you ask yourself if there is anything I could have done. Sometimes a simple phone call or text to ask ‘Are You OK?’ could make the difference. It can’t bring Lee back but if we can encourage people, mainly men, to talk about how they are feeling, it might help others feeling the same.”
GKR Scaffolding Managing Director Neil Rowswell echoed Thompson’s statement.
“Every day two people in the construction industry take their own life. This is a shocking statistic and as an owner of a construction company, one that I cannot ignore.
“Our mental health is difficult for all of us to talk about, especially for men. Last year GKR Scaffolding launched our BetterFuture, Better Mental Health programme to break down the stigma of Mental Health, encouraging our staff to talk and signpost them to support if needed.
“This year we are supporting the #AskTwice campaign and wanted to extend the message outside GKR. We want everyone to look out for their colleagues and friends and when asking them if they are okay, to ask again. People are more likely to open up on the second time of asking. Part of suicide prevention and mental health support is getting people talking. We want this message to be seen by the motorsport community and hopefully get more people, especially men talking about their mental health.”