A DREAM will come true for one of the UK’s most promising young motor racing talents when he makes his debut in a world famous championship later this month.
Ethan Hammerton, 17, will be the youngest current driver in the illustrious British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) when he competes in the championship’s last two rounds at the legendary Silverstone and Brands Hatch circuits.
Ethan will replace fellow Team Hard racer Michael Caine, 49, a former British GT Championship winner who has been racing in the BTCC since 2011.
Last year the Northallerton teenager beat off stiff competition from almost 100 other drivers to win the Team Hard GKR Scaffolding Scholarship and has since been racing in the prestigious VW Cup Championship, which is seen as a proven training ground for drivers with professional ambitions.
The move up to the BTCC has come far earlier than expected and is recognition of a rare talent.
“I have been watching British Touring Cars at Croft with my mum, dad and brother since I was a young boy and I can’t believe I am now going to be actually racing in the championship,” said Ethan.
“I switched from racing karts to racing cars in the Junior Saloon Car Championship when I was 15, in 2015, and it was my goal then to race in the BTCC and I’ve achieved that ambition – it’s a dream come true,” he added
Ethan will line-up on the BTCC’s Silverstone grid over the weekend of September 15 and 16, and will then compete in the season finale at Brands Hatch over the last weekend of September.
Only Formula 1 and America’s NASCAR stock car series have longer histories than the BTCC – since its inception in 1958 it has attracted and captivated millions of motor racing fans around the world.
Ethan was at the Rockingham motor racing circuit with Team Hard boss Tony Gilham when he learned a seat in the BTCC might be a possibility: “We were at the Rockingham round of the BTCC supporting Bobby Thompson and the rest of Team Hard when discussions started with Tony and I am over the moon that everything is now in place and I can’t wait to get out in the car,” he explained.
“I know it’s going to be tough given the lack of time in the car compared to the other drivers and the 45kg mandated ballast for new entrants. I fully appreciate the trust put in me and will put everything I have into doing well for Team Hard. I know how privileged I am to have been given this opportunity and I am realistic about my expectations
“I really want to be in the BTCC next year and am hoping that this is just the start of my BTCC career. I’d like to thank Tony Gilham, Team Hard, GKR Scaffolding, HMC Group, Hadrian Healthcare and my other sponsors for making this happen.”
Ethan is seen as an emerging talent in the world of motorsport having narrowly missed out in two junior championships last season. He finished on the podium a staggering 21 times out of 26 starts, with race wins, lap records and fastest laps in both the Renault UK Clio Junior Championship and the JSCC finishing as vice champion.
Having gained the Team Hard GKR Scaffolding scholarship, the young racer secured his first VW Cup Championship podium at Rockingham in only his third senior race. This season he has also raced in the Fun Cup Spa 25 hour race at Belgium’s Spa circuit, where he won the Evo 2 class.
Trackside crowd figures for the popular BTCC are now around 40,000 and major manufacturers such as BMW, Honda, Vauxhall and Subaru are all part of the championship roadshow.
ITV has agreed a long-term contract extension up until the end of 2022, providing a perfect platform of millions of viewers for sponsors to raise their profiles and reputations.
If you would like to sponsor Ethan in 2018/2019 please contact him on Facebook, via his racing page @Ethan Hammerton Racing or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for sponsorship opportunities.
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
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
As I’m sure you all know, this weekend was by far my best result in the Volkswagen Racing Cup ever!
P3 in qualifying was a hard slog on old wet tyres, whilst everyone around me was on new. I knew at this point we would be competitive!
A great initial start to be P1 after two corners was wiped out due to the red flag. The restart meant my second start led to P2 after turn 2, which was soon reversed back to P3, although a rival put it on the grass. I then was passed again for P2, until the leader then made a mistake. I managed to reel in the leader after he picked up some damage, and because I had saved my tyres I was able to push hard, make a good move into T1 and then push until the end to take my first win of 2018!
Race two was pretty similar. A good start saw me gain some spots off the line, which soon became P2 after some good overtaking moves. I then battled away with the guys behind me before another red flag (due to oil) took a lot of cars out. I found myself in the lead for the restart, where I was taken out in turn 1 at over 100mph. Facing backwards on the grass wasn’t fun!! I managed to work my way back through the pack from P12 to 4th by the end (with some pretty risky moves). Third place was disqualified due to his move on me at T1, which meant I got a 3rd place!
So far this season I have had 2 thirds and a first, whilst the other race had been a DNF from a potential podium due to a small car fault that Team-HARD. Racing have worked tirelessly to fix, and my god have they fixed it!
The car is perfect. I’m in a very good place – I would be leading the championship if you account for the one dropped score we are allowed. I’m absolutely over the moon.
I can’t thank the team enough, but huge thank you also to my sponsors CLEAN Commercial Cleaning Services LTD in particular, without whom I wouldn’t be racing. Please give these guys a like and follow, they are an awesome company with amazing quality of work.
I also had a magical time with my fiancée once again in the Rack’n’Roll Garage – VW Conversion Specialist VW Transporter. Make sure you check out their stock of converted vans – the one I stayed in is for sale and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
Finally, thank you to Fyshe for their awesome adidas racing kit. It looks, feels and performs amazingly.
To all those who message me, or come to watch me racing, or who have personally congratulated me – thank you. It means the world. You guys make it all extra special.
The taste of champagne will never wear off, and I’m absolutely living the dream. I’m so grateful to be doing what I’m doing, and to do so is so unbelievable for me. I’m like a small child at a fairground when I go racing, and I know how lucky I am to be here. Thank you to everyone who supports me, in every way possible I am so grateful.