Three-Pronged Attack for Team HARD. Racing in TCT Finale

Three-Pronged Attack for Team HARD. Racing in TCT Finale

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.

BTCC star Thompson to support World Mental Health Day at Brands Hatch.

BTCC star Thompson to support World Mental Health Day at Brands Hatch.

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.”

 

Crees Splashes His Way To Stunning Maiden BTCC Top Ten Finish

Crees Splashes His Way To Stunning Maiden BTCC Top Ten Finish

Michael Crees produced a heroic performance in treacherous conditions at Silverstone to secure a career-best ninth place finish in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this past weekend (September 28/29).

On what proved to be a momentous penultimate meeting of the year as a whole for Team HARD, Crees delivered a show-stealing drive to take a richly deserved second points finish of his maiden BTCC campaign.

After showing encouraging pace in Saturday’s two free practice sessions in his Volkswagen CC, the 35-year-old delivered a hugely encouraging qualifying performance to secure 24th on the grid for race one.

Despite the aid of a tow, which is crucial around the 1.6-mile National circuit in increasing top speeds and lap times, the Premier Contract Supplies and Burlington Bathrooms sponsored driver finished within half a second of pole position – underlining the constant improvements he is making.

Following heavy overnight and morning rain, all eyes were on the skies when it came to tyre strategy for the opening encounter of the weekend. With light rain falling minutes before lights out, Crees elected to roll the dice and switch to wet weather tyres – the only one on the grid to do so.

Unfortunately, the rain subsided quickly and left the Volkswagen driver forced to return to the pit-lane for slick tyres before lights out. Rejoining at the back, Crees’ misfortune sadly continued as an alternator failure saw him return to the garage, bringing his race to a premature end.

Starting at the back of the grid for race two, Crees showcased his overtaking prowess in what proved to be an action-packed encounter. Heavy rain teamed with a safety car towards the latter stages made it a race of attrition – with the former two-time Ginetta champion revelling in the conditions.

Scything his way through the order, the Geberit UK, Hansgrohe, DPC Group and DDS Demolition backed driver powered his way into 19th, but couldn’t go any further due to a red flag bringing proceedings to an early end.

Crees’ crowning glory came in an unpredictable reverse grid encounter, which started with all cars on slick tyres. Conditions soon began to deteriorate however and a change to wet tyres became paramount, with Crees pitting on lap four.

Rejoining at the back of the pack, he joined Jason Plato, Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan in the fighting towards the front. Utilising the added grip he had over the slick-shod cars ahead, he matched the pace of the three former champions as he climbed the order.

Powering his way through the field, Crees gained five places in the final five laps alone to cross the line in ninth – a breakthrough top ten finish in his Merlyn Showering, SMG Croydon, MVC Events, MJ Plumbing and Imperial Render backed Volkswagen.

Michael Crees: “What a weekend! Race three was one of the most amazing races I’ve ever been involved in and to come home ninth honestly feels like a win – it has been a weekend to remember for the team as a whole.

“We had great pace as soon as we hit the track and we have just worked on making improvements every time I’ve been behind the wheel. I was a little gutted that the red flag came out in race two because I was making great progress, but that set us up for race three.

“As soon as the rain started to fall I was straight in the pits and suddenly I was around the likes of Plato, Jordan and Turkington. I just stuck with them and went with them and we brought it home ninth, which is unbelievable.

“To finish in the top ten at this level and in those conditions is amazing and I have to thank the whole team and all of my loyal sponsors. This gives us plenty of momentum heading into the season finale in a couple of weeks.”

Crees’ maiden Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign will draw to a close in under two weeks’ time, as the series returns to his home circuit of Brands Hatch to sign off the 2019 season around the iconic Grand Prix layout.

Rain man Thompson dances to Silverstone top ten.

Rain man Thompson dances to Silverstone top ten.

On a weekend that will live long in the memory of any touring car fan, second year Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship star Bobby Thompson used his renowned wet weather prowess to secure two points scoring finishes including a stunning top ten effort around a sodden Silverstone National circuit.

The penultimate race weekend of the 2019 season will go down as one of the most intense, chaotic and action packed events in the rich 61 year history of Britain’s most popular domestic series as afternoon storms turned rounds 26 and 27 of the 30 race season into a rain swept lottery at the 1.64-mile Northamptonshire venue that is home to the British Racing Drivers Club.

On the heels of a tough weekend at Knockhill, the 23 year-old Hornchurch based driver and his #19 GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct Team HARD outfit knew that getting back into the points was a must at a track where slipstreaming is key and where the venerable VW CC’s still had a chance to compete against the latest BTCC machinery.

However a recurring mechanical issue during Saturday’s two practice sessions meant that the 2017 VW Cup Series Champion couldn’t unlock the full potential of his machine with chronic understeer making it difficult to attack a circuit where the average lap speed sits at well over 100mph.

“Qualifying was disappointing,” said Thompson, who is one of the current crop of BRDC Rising Stars. “We couldn’t get the balance of the car right and I was understeering into every corner which made it harder to get a good tow down the straights. So although 20th place isn’t where we want to be, the fact that I am less than half a second away from pole position shows that if we get the handling sorted, we can be right up there tomorrow.”

With Thompson starting on the outside of the tenth row of the grid for Sunday morning’s opening 22 lap race, held in damp but drying conditions, a poor getaway wasn’t the ideal beginning to a race that also saw the driver known throughout the paddock as Bobster, saddled with the less than optimal soft tyre and when the 30-strong field flashed across the line to compete the opening lap, the #19 VW was back in 24th.

But as has been the case in race conditions throughout the last two BTCC seasons, Thompson proved once more that he is an expert at extracting the maximum out of his car regardless of tyres, set up and track conditions as he quickly began picking off his rivals. By lap eight he was back up to 20th and with ten laps remaining he was sitting 18th and catching a pack squabbling over 12th place.

Sadly for Thompson his fighting drive came to an end on lap 16 when, after a collision ahead of him between Ollie Jackson and Rory Butcher at Luffield caused a concertina effect, Thompson was rudely spat out of the way coming out of the final corner into the barriers, leaving him an unjust 27th.

“I had passed Aiden Moffatt a few laps earlier and I knew he was still right behind me so when everyone slowed down to avoid the crash ahead of me, Aiden just kept his foot on the gas and around I went. It was just really unnecessary as we could have both come out of that with some points but instead I’ve got a damaged car and I’m starting at the back for the next race.”

Redemption was to come in the form of Mother Nature in race two, as spots of rain that began on lap 9, by which time Thompson had already climbed from 27th to 20th, turned into a substantial shower. With the entire field on slicks and in conditions that Thompson revels in, the #19 machine was suddenly one of the quickest cars on track.

Thompson took little time getting into the points and when the safety car came out on lap 15, he was up to 15th. Five laps remained when the green flag waved again and Thompson quickly dispatched his teammate Carl Boardley for 13th and then Senna Proctor for 12th. However just as he was looking to make more progress the red flags came out to stop the race and on the run to the line the returning Michael Caine edged Thompson back to 13th.

“The championship has obviously got to put safety first and the track was certainly getting very wet but I would have liked to have run the full race distance,” commented Thompson, who narrowly missed out a pace in the reverse grid draw. “But to pass half the field and score some points from where we started is a major boost for us and hopefully it will stay wet for the rest of the day.”

Thompson didn’t quite get his wish and when the cars lined up for the third and final race of the day the track was dry but with ominous clouds overhead. The first spots of rain started to fall on the parade lap and Thompson’s teammate Jack Goof took the gamble to pit for wet tyres as the field lined up for the start.

As the lights went out Thompson and 28 others tiptoed their way around the opening lap with grip levels already beginning to deteriorate and the #19 machine completed the opening lap in 16th place. But with Thompson in his element that soon became 13th and had an audacious double outside pass on title contenders Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan come off without Thompson running wide on the exit of Copse Corner, he would have been sitting in 10th place when the safety car came out to retrieve a car out of the gravel.

Now there was a decision to make for as the track conditions worsened, several drivers peeled in to change to wets on the first of three safety car laps with several more doing likewise at the end of the second lap. By the time Thompson got the call to pit for wets the safety car lights were out and despite some swift work from the Team HARD crew, a frustrated Thompson returned to the track in 24th place, 55-seconds behind the leaders with 19 laps remaining.

What followed was one of the unsung drives of a day that was full of shocks and surprises. With about a dozen cars still on slicks and everyone else on wets, Thompson fought back from nearly a lap down to pass a dozen cars and gain nearly 20 seconds on the race leader by the time the chequered flag came out.

Often among the fastest cars on track Thompson would take the chequered flag in 10th place, his best result since the opening race of the year at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit and while there was obvious elation at the site of Goff claiming Team HARD’s maiden BTCC race win there was also the knowledge that an earlier pit stop to change onto wets could have seen Thompson join his teammate on the podium.

“That was just a crazy race, concluded Thompson, who remains third in the Jack Sears Trophy standings with just three races to go. “I just pushed as hard as I could every corner of every lap following the restart. At one point I thought there was no way a points finish was possible but we managed to claw it back. I’m delighted for Jack and the whole team. We have worked so hard over the last two years together and it is great to see Team HARD on the top step at last.

“We had some extra support this weekend from Principle Demolition and Modern Classics Car Club and it was certainly an introduction they will never forget.”

Jack Goff Secures Maiden Win For Team HARD

Jack Goff Secures Maiden Win For Team HARD

Team HARD’s Jack Goff secured the first ever Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship victory for the Kent-based team in a dramatic rain affected finale at Silverstone.

The race commenced in dry conditions but was quickly turned into a very damp occasion as drivers had to choose between the gamble of staying on Dunlop Sport Maxx dry tyres or switching to the Dunlop BluResponse wets.

The likes of BTC Racing’s Josh Cook and Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish led the way early on and were seemingly strengthening their title credentials, but all that was to change when a safety car was called to retrieve the stricken Honda of Matt Simpson.

Over the next three laps a number of drivers chose to switch to wet tyres under safety car conditions and it proved to be a masterstroke as the conditions worsened considerably.

RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport’s Goff and Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat were the first to surge through the field and it would quickly become a two-way fight for victory. It was either going to be a first for Team HARD or a first ever win for the Infiniti Q50, but that was soon decided after the duo hit the front.

Moffat, pushing too hard through Copse, slid wide and spun around whilst trying to catch Goff, meaning the latter could comfortably cruise home for victory.

“Race two we did the exact same thing,” said Goff. “It started to sprinkle on the out-lap of that one and we made the call. It means so much to me, my family our sponsors and the team. I couldn’t see anything. My windscreen completely steamed up with ten laps to go and I was driving through a little clear spot in the corner. It was so tricky.

“It’s unreal. I won my first podium with this team at Brands Hatch in 2013. It means so much for all of them. Things haven’t gone our way this year so I’m chuffed to bits.”

Scotsman Moffat recovered to claim second, whilst Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal completed the podium.

“Frustrating not to win,” said Moffat. “The car felt brilliant and I knew I had the pace. I was still confident I could come back. I need a bit of a change of overalls after that spin! It was my first rear-wheel drive wet race, so I’ll learn from it. We put a setup on it and hoped for the best. It was a big step for us today and I was confident battling at the front with Jack (Goff). It’s great to reward the team. I’ve put them through a lot with some tantrums and it’s great to be back up there.

“They were horrible conditions but we called it a lap too late,” confirmed Neal. “I was confused who was running wets around us. It was still giving the slick runners good grip. I’m over the moon to be on the podium again but a bit disappointed not to get further up the road. I thought about hanging around to help Dan (Cammish) and his title battle but the disparity between him on dries and myself was just too great.”

Tom Oliphant (Team BMW), Tom Chilton (Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher) and Jason Plato (Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing) were fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, whilst the BWW duo of Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan were next in the order.

It was a nervy contest for both Turkington and Jordan – the pair touching at one point as they both looked to keep their respective championship challenges intact. Turkington now leads Cammish by 16 points with Jordan a further point in arrears as we move to the final rounds of the season at Brands Hatch in two weeks time.

Team HARD’s joy was further bolstered with Michael Crees and Bobby Thompson completing the top ten positions for the stable’s GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct outfit.

Article from: BTCC.net 

BTCC Ace Michael Crees Battles HARD For Double Knockhill Finish

BTCC Ace Michael Crees Battles HARD For Double Knockhill Finish

Michael Crees produced a battling performance in the latest instalment of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this past weekend (14/15 September), claiming a pair of finishes in his first ever race meeting at Knockhill.

Buoyed by the improvements made at Thruxton last time out, the Team HARD driver headed north of the border to Scotland optimistic of a strong showing – especially having got the chance to test at the Fife venue in pre-season.

Following Saturday two free practice sessions, Crees went on to set a best time of 51.641s for 26th place in what proved to be an ultra-competitive qualifying session, ending up little over a second off of pole position – underlining the ongoing improvements being made.

Starting hot on the heels of his Volkswagen CC stablemates, the Premier Contract Supplies, Burlington Bathrooms, Geberit UK, Hansgrohe, DPC Group and DDS Demolition sponsored driver saw his race unfortunately over before it really began.

Gaining three spots on the opening lap, Crees had looked on course to break into the top 20 before becoming involved in an incident with Nicolas Hamilton on the second tour, resulting in him sustaining race-ending damage.

Forced to start race two from the back of the grid, the 36-year-old found himself in an almighty scrap throughout the 24 laps as he went wheel-to-wheel with the likes of Ashley Sutton, Mark Blundell and Dan Rowbottom. Running as high as 22nd at one stage, Crees would unfortunately drop down the order to cross the line in 27th.

The third and final race of the weekend proved to be a frenetic affair with Crees once again in the thick of the action. Despite his car starting to fill with smokes in the latter stages, the two-time Ginetta champion held on to bring his weekend to a close in 24th.

Michael Crees: “It has been a frustrating weekend because I think we deserved a lot more than what we got. Saturday proved to be really good for us and we found some real pace in the car; unfortunately we couldn’t translate it on race day.

“Being in the middle of the action puts you in the firing line and we endured our fair share of contact, which cost us from possibly challenging inside the top 20. We came here knowing that this was one of our stronger circuits, so it is tough to come away with nothing.

“That being said, we learnt lots more and that will only help us as we head to Silverstone in a couple of weeks’ time. The aim there, as always, will be to see if we can get back in the points.”

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship now heads to Silverstone on September 28/29 for the penultimate event of the 2019 campaign; with Rounds 25, 26 & 27 likely to offer up more opportunities for the Merlyn Showering, SMG Croydon, MVC Events, MJ Plumbing and Imperial Render backed driver to score further points.