Men in Black
Team HARD has undergone an extensive overhaul ahead of the penultimate race weekend of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, with all new garages and a striking black livery now adorning its quartet of cars.
The outfit has instigated an intensive development effort in the lead up to Rounds 25, 26 and 27 from Silverstone and is hoping that those efforts will be rewarded with results to match the glimpses of pace it has shown over the previous three meetings.
“We want to finish the season on a high,” said Team Principal Tony Gilham. “We’ve completely refreshed all of our cars and we’ve arrived at Silverstone with a set of developments under the skin of our four Volkswagen CCs.
“For us, 2019 starts now as it hasn’t been the season we’d hoped for. Over the first half of the season, it was very up and down. We showed glimpses of pace but it wasn’t very consistent but in particular, we’ve displayed a massive amount of potential over the last few race weekends.
“We’ve come to Silverstone with all-new garages, an all-new livery and what we feel to be a competitive driver line-up. It’s a fresh start and we want to finish the season on a high. We hope this weekend can be a catalyst for next season and some great results.
Pace meant for good points on both sides of the Team HARD stable at Team HARD with Trade Price Cars and Team HARD with Brisky Racing back at Rockingham, and it is this level of performance that Gilham wants to replicate on a more regular basis as the outfit continues its upward trajectory in Britain’s top flight.
“We have worked very hard on the setup of our cars behind-the-scenes and we know, and we’ve shown, we’ve got a very good package,” he continued.
“Silverstone is a track that suits our cars and we’ve gone well here over the last few years. We’re hoping that plays into our hands a little bit and we’re hoping for a bit of luck as well.
“We’ve had a few frustrations, like back at Rockingham, where some results, particularly with Bobby Thompson, were perhaps taken away from us and our pace was there for all to see.
“We’ve got a package that can fight anybody out there and we’re pushing on back at the workshop and over race weekends to get that level of consistency to become a front-running team. That’s what we aspire to be. We’re doing quite well for ourselves and we’re working hard to bring it all together and make that next step.
“We want to be very solidly in the points and running inside the top ten here. If lady luck’s on our side and we can really maximise our potential then we’d like to think that we have got a chance of some silverware.
“You have to aim high but it is so difficult in the BTCC with probably half a second covering the top 25-30 cars in qualifying. In pre-season the cars were all black and we’ve flipped back to black from the white we had been running.
“So far, so good. It’s high impact and it’s had a great response from everybody who has seen it so far. The sponsors’ logos really jump out and we’re hoping they look good on-track! They look good off it!”
This weekend, the squad welcomes Ethan Hammerton into the fold. Team HARD prides itself on providing the opportunity for young, up-and-coming drivers to make the leap into the BTCC and Hammerton’s signing is the next incarnation of that philosophy.
“As a motorsport talent scout, I do watch a lot of junior racing and there is a lot of ability out there,” continued Gilham. “We aim to help those talents make a break into the BTCC.
“Ethan has shone on our scholarship programme both on-track and off it and he had his first test a couple of weeks ago and he shone then as well. It’s a big step up but we’re very confident we’ve backed the right talent and we’ll see how he gets on this weekend.
“I’m very excited for the weekend,” said 17-year-old debutant Hammerton. “I can’t wait to get out in the car again. I know it’ll be tough. I’ve been a major fan of the championship ever since I was seven years old or so and I’ve always aspired to eventually make it into the BTCC as a competitor and be involved.
“I never expected to make it here at such a young age but it is absolutely mega. I was out in the car a couple of weeks ago and I soon got to grips with it. It’s bigger and faster than anything I’ve ever driven before but it wasn’t too much to get used to. The speed differential is the biggest leap but I’ll adapt.
“On the test day, everything felt natural after ten laps in the car. My aim for the weekend would be to get through and finish all three races and if I can make up a few places then that’d be a bonus really.”