Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is a special place. Racing through the forests at the highest of speeds. Our VW Cup drivers are lucky enough to experience the extreme undulations of this iconic circuit once every year. The drivers up for the challenge of the 4.35mile blast through the Ardennes Forest were Jamie Bond #56, Toby Davis #34, Callum Jenkins #19 and our Team HARD Scholarship winner Ethan Hammerton #23.
As we enter the second half of the season it’s clear that Jamie #56 is in contention for the championship title after a string of strong finishes at Snetterton and Brands Hatch. Toby #34 is also in with an outside chance after taking his first win of the season at Rockingham back in April. The pair are 30 and 56 points behind leader Chris Panayiotou; all to play for then.
It was an early start for the Team HARD crew as free practice got underway at 9:55 local time in the beautiful sunshine. It was a session that proved to have it’s ups and down. We had clear running for both Jamie #56 and Toby #34 who both didn’t have any major issues to report. The pair finished P3 and P10 respectively.
It was disaster of a session for Ethan #23 who’s car was chucking out plumes of smoke, could this of been the end of the weekend already for our scholarship winner? With the car back at base the problem was with the turbo, the crew got to work to fix the issue, but it would be touch and go as to whether Ethan would make qualifying and the rest of the weekend. Callum #19 reported a lack of power in his GKR Scaffolding Golf GTi which was evident as he was 12mph down in the speed traps, a disaster on the kemmel straight and up towards the infamous bus stop chicane. Lot’s to work on in the three hour ‘wait’ for qualifying.
With the sun still beaming down on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps qualifying would prove to be another interesting session for the boys and girls. Jamie #56 placed his Wrightsure.com Golf Gti P6 and in front of championship leader Chris Panayiotou for race 1, a job well done at this point in the season. Callum #19 and Ethan #23 in their fully restored GKR Scaffolding Golf Gti’s would line up in P11 and P17 with Toby #34 finished P13 after power steering trouble.
17:25 soon arrived and with-it time to race, the boys worked wonders to change Toby’s #34 gearbox in time for race 1 of the weekend. The time to race on one of the most iconic circuits in the world was upon the drivers and with the adrenaline pumping it came as no surprise when the 17 VW’s piled into La Source. The two GKR Scaffolding GTi’s and Toby’s #34 C.L.E.A.N Golf GTi all made it through with a clean front end. However, Jamie #56 made contact with another car whilst taking evasive action from the spinning Panayiotou. Fortunately, Jamie could carry on and finished the first lap in P6 as he started. Jamie #56 soon caught at passed the likes of Walton, Witts and Taylor down into turn 1 on successive laps and before you knew it the championship contender was in P3 which he would keep for the remainder of the 30minute race.
It was a remarkable race from our Welshman Toby Davis #34 who managed to pick his way through some robust driving from our competitors to finish the day in P4 from what he described as a ‘somewhat lowly grid position’. Toby’s #34 race management at Spa is further proof of how far he has come in the VW Racing Cup with Team HARD. Consistent points finishes are key to any championship.
More good news for the squad, Callum Jenkins #19 who is new to the championship put in a fine performance to finish the race in P8 and take the top rookie trophy despite having a spin at Campus (turn 14) on the opening lap. After the spin Callum #19 regrouped and much like Toby #34 calmly picked his way through an ever-diminishing field, as the saying goes ‘to finish first, first you must finish’ that certainly applies to Callum here.
Ethan’s #23 day had been very troubled from the get go and unfortunately for our scholarship winner the race also proved disappointing through no fault of his own. Ethan #23, who was running as high as P6 was for much of the race after a good start was forced to retire with just three laps remaining due to a lack of power from the engine. Further disappoint struck Ethan has he fell just short of the 75% completion rule and therefore didn’t classify. It was just one of them days for the 17 year old.
With all day to prepare for the final race of the weekend we went into the race with spirts high. Toby #34 was placed highest on the grid with P3. It was a frantic first couple of laps with all of our drivers making good progress up the field. Leading the charge was Toby #34 who had climbed to P2 and was putting the pressure on the race leader Witts #14. Toby saw his opportunity to take the lead and sent his C.L.E.A.N Golf GTi down the inside at the bus stop chicane. Witts #14 closed the door on the Welshman and the two made slight contact into the first part of the chicane, into the left hander Toby #34 held the upper hand and was in front but an over optimistic dive down the inside by Witts #14 put both in a spin. Toby would continue to finish a fine P2 despite the damage incurred from the lap 2 clash. Callum #19 performed spectacularly to finish P4, his highest finish of the season. Jamie ended the race in P6 after he was forced into the wall on the run down to Eu Rouge, another solid weekend for Jamie who moves ever closer to the summit of the championship. Ethan #23 who ran as high as P6 again suffered more engine trouble and eventually retired with only 4 laps completed.
Overall it was a good weekend for the team who saw its driver collect three trophies. Spa never disappoints and the mix between this iconic circuit and the thrills and spills of the VW cup made for some fantastic racing all over the grid. Spa, we will see you next year!
By Josh Bashford
Team HARD. are delighted to announce that it’s VW Cup driver, will pilot one of the VW Passat CC BTCC cars at the up coming tyre test at Snetterton, Norwich.
Bond who currently sits 3rd in the VW Cup standings will jump into Bobby Thompsons car for the second day of the tyre test. With the car and Bobby getting into a groove together at Croft with an immense drive in race 3 the pair are hoping to bring the car forward and extract more pace in preparation for Round 6 in the BTCC which is also at Snetterton.
The Wrightsure Insurance backed driver has had mixed fortunes so far in the VW Cup with a puncture at Silverstone and Fluid on the track at Rockingham preventing him standing on the top step. But Bond is confident that he can help Bobby get the most from his CC “I raced against Bobby last year and we had a good battle to the title, it was decided on the last race of the season. I’ve spoken with Bobby about his experience so far this year in the BTCC and what the car is like, so I can get as much of an understanding of what to expect. I was also asked to attend a shake down before Croft where I got to drive all 4 of the Team HARD. CC’s. This taster has made me even more excited to get behind the wheel.”
Team Boss Tony Gilham said of Bond jumping into the CC “Bond is a great talent behind the wheel which is clear for people to see with some of the drives he has produced over the years in the VW Cup and with the backing of Wrightsure Insurance and Oakleaf Heating I’m sure he will show that natural skill at the test. As part of the driver development programme within Team HARD. it was logical for us to get Bond in the car to see where he sits in relation to other drivers, as we believe he can make the step up from VW Cup just as Bobby has this season. With the similar driving styles, we hope that between them they can unlock some more pace out of the car at the test.”
Bond finished with “I’m so please to be getting into the CC, I’ve driven the old Team HARD. Avensis and the Maximum Ford Focus so I’m looking forward to the feeling the difference in the cars and how I compare to some of the best drivers in the UK.”
The BTCC Tyre test is this Wednesday and Thursday the 11th and 12th of July.
Qualifying – P5 – not the best qualifying session for us really struggled to make the tyres work and the pace just wasn’t there. Over drove and threw it off at druids.
Race 1 – P4 didn’t get the best of starts and dropped to 7th by turn one but by druids I was back into 5th and after a good battle with my team mate Ethan I managed to get past into 3rd and went to hunt down the leaders…. (not a chance). It was quite a frustrating race from there on loosing heaps of time to the leaders and then got driven past down the straight and a coming together into paddock didn’t help. We finished 3rd on the road to later be penalised and demoted to 4th!
Race 2 – Starting third by druids we managed to get into the lead…. until Graham Hill where everyone got a little bit excited and started a banger race, I got a huge hit from behind that threw me onto the grass. After gathering the car up and getting back on I fell down to third, pushed on and got into second and had the pace to take the win until the safety car came out and hampered my chances with only 2 laps to run at the end.
Overall a decent weekend for points and podiums but also frustrating at the same time.
The guys and girls at team hard are something special we put on a massive fight this weekend we all know what’s happening but everyone keeps smiling and we are still up the front.
A huge thank you to Wrightsure insurance and oakleaf heating and all your guests and fleet livery solutions what an amazing atmosphere at brands hatch for me and all my family and friends the roar when I got out the car was something very special and felt honoured to have so much support.
Up next Spa (and somewhere else, news to follow)
Thankyou everyone for your continued support
Team hard racing
Fleet livery solutions
With no testing or not being in the car since Rockingham we had to dive straight into qualifying Saturday morning which proved to be tough and also having our fastest lap time removed that would have placed us P4
Race 1 – Got an ok start and held on to our position we managed to get into 6th and that’s where we stayed for the majority of the race we really struggled with straight line speed and on the infield sections where we had a lot of pace we was just getting blocked we managed to finally create a gap and get through into 5th but with time ticking away we caught the cars in front but not enough time to pass before the flag so finished in P5.
Race 2 – we started 2nd on the reverse grid and got a decent start seeing us take the lead by turn 5 but then instantly dropping to third after being driven past down the straights but retook 2nd on the third lap was a good race between myself and Martin but we just lacked in speed and all our corner work didn’t pay off as we lost ground down the straights. So overall finished P2.
Overall a tough but great weekend for myself and team hard racing, at least we finished both races this time.
A huge thankyou to Wrightsure insurance who was there supporting me all weekend.
Another huge thank you to Team HARD racing all the engineers and everyone behind the scenes they don’t get the credit they deserve and especially Alex and Oli for giving me a great car.
Next up Brands HHatch Who’s coming?
Credit to the people that make this all happen
Team HARD Racing
Another weekend to forget to be honest….
Qualifying – pole! (Only good part about this)
Race 1 – disaster. We got a decent original start dropping to 2nd by turn to but as a move was presented the red flags came out and the race was stopped. (Driver of the incident was ok) we took the restart and spun the wheels to much off the line which dropped me down to third, we got back into second by turn for and start chasing down the leader… coming through grace lands I got a great run on Martin as he covered the inside line he caught me by surprise braking quite early so I was stranded on the outside of Tarzan hairpin, we run out of road and spun onto the grass, we dropped down to 11th once we recovered and was 15 seconds behind the leaders with a raced reduced to 15mins we had a huge amount of work to do.. which we did pretty well I fought my way back up to 5th and on the back of the leading pack a few more laps and we would have got on the podium but it wasn’t to be. But we sure showed our pace taking near on a second a lap out of the leading pack.
Race 2 – even more or a disaster. After finishing 5th in race 1 we were starting 2nd on the reverse grid, a great start saw me in the lead by turn one. By the end of lap one we was over a second in the lead after 10 mins of the race we had a very comfortable 3 second lead….. the race was under control and I felt confident for the win.. until coming into grace lands a car had gone off into the barriers and was on the grass I saw the yellow flags so backed off slightly as it was a single waved yellow so wasn’t expecting anything on the circuit, but the car had thrown coolent/oil all over the track, me being first through saw no red and yellow flag warning me of a slippery surface and it through me off and into the gravel to which we could not restart after the red flag. Another DNF for me in race 2.
There are still a lot of positives to take from this weekend as we really showed our pace and what myself and the team can do.
I know every driver thanks there sponsors but I cannot thank Wrightsure insurance and oakleaf heating enough for the support over this weekend! Always there to lift my spirits and make me look at the positives they truly are the best company’s to have support from and I’m truly honoured to have you guys by my side.
Another thankyou to team hard racing and alex my engineer alex, for always giving me such a great car, sorry the results aren’t there but they will come.
And last but not least thank you to my family and especially my mum and dad for there support we have had a really hard time as a family the last few months but we all pull together to stick by one another, RIP Uncle Barry we all miss you.
Fleet livery solutions
Team hard racing
Roll on Snetterton where hopefully our luck will change