Thompson impresses on first day with BTCC ‘family’
Bobby Thompson’s 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship campaign moved up a gear at an overcast Donington Park on Tuesday as the UK’s premier motor racing series burst into action at the annual Season Launch.
Thompson, the 2017 VW Cup Series Champion, joined a 32 strong capacity grid including no less than 17 former BTCC race winners at the Leicestershire venue. The championship that ranks third in the world behind only Formula One and NASCAR in terms of continuous participation unveiled a history-making and potentially record breaking 60th anniversary season and it’s clear that Thompson is revelling in being a part of it.
While the skies overhead remained grey, the 21-year-old’s striking number 19 Trade Price Cars Racing with Team HARD VW Passat provided a colourful addition to the spectacular array of machinery that obliterated the wintery calm of the off-season and eschewed away the rain that threatened to disrupt proceedings.
“Today has been a very special day,” said Jack Sears Trophy contender Thompson, who completed nearly 50 trouble-free laps of Donington’s undulating 1.979-mile National Circuit under the watchful eye of his vastly experienced car chief Phil Overall.
“When I first sat down for the driver unveilings, I looked around and saw many of my racing heroes but I had to quickly remember that they aren’t my idols this year, they are my rivals,” added Thompson who, in 2018 has been nominated as one of the ‘Rising Stars’ of the British Racing Drivers Club. “That really helped me to focus on my job today and now we have all been out on track together for testing I just feel like part of the BTCC family like everyone else.”
“Bobby has been impressive for us since day one,” added Team HARD Principal Tony Gilham, who first signed the driver as part of its VW Cup Junior Driver programme. “We knew at the end of last season that he was ready for the BTCC and he has proved us right every step of the way today.
“We knew where we were at the start of the day and we knew where we wanted to be at the end of the day and we achieved that without any mistakes or putting any unnecessary stress on the equipment. We know where we believe Bobby can be this year and today he did exactly what we wanted. There is no use putting added pressure on him with an artificially fast lap in testing as it is a long season ahead.”