FULLER TO FILL IN FOR BUSHELL AT TEAM HARD
The 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will see Howard Fuller replace Mike Bushell in one of the Team HARD. Racing Volkswagen CCs for at least the first three events, as the 30-year-old continues his recovery from Myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle.
Fuller last drove in the BTCC back in 2013 in Team HARD. Racing’s Vauxhall Insignia, scoring multiple points despite only competing in two events of the season. Looking ahead to 2020, there is great excitement for what a return to the series might bring, as the 27-year-old takes to the wheel of the Team HARD. Racing CC in Spain next week.
“Howard has been an integral part of the team for ten years now and even when he wasn’t racing with us, we have remained in close contact and tried many times to get him back on track,” said Team HARD. Racing’s Managing Director, Tony Gilham. “Our journey together began back in 2011 and led to his BTCC debut in 2012. Being totally honest with myself, whilst Howard was ready as a driver, we weren’t ready as a team at the top level at that point. Howard is an amazing talent and up until now, there has always been something lacking with us as a team which hasn’t allowed us to extract everything from his potential. However, 2020 will finally see what we can achieve together where we are both more than prepared at the same time.
“Whilst we believe Howard has the potential to go to the very top, we all know that it is very important to build a career on solid foundations. So, the decision was made to hit the reset button and essentially relaunch Howard as we look to take him back up the racing ladder. Howard brings a wealth of experience and will be a great ambassador for us both on and off-track, so we are very much looking forward to what we can achieve this season.
“Naturally, I’m devastated for Mike; we’ve been in contact throughout his recovery and we wanted to keep him in the car, but health must come first, and we wish Mike well. He is still a vital part of the team and we will continue working with him during the opening rounds of the championship until we reassess his health in May.”
Fuller’s return to the grid will see him take to the track for the first nine races of the year, having only ever competed in six races in any one year previously.
“I’ve waited 7 years for the phone call,” said Fuller. “Our first outing in the championship way back in 2012 with Team HARD in the iconic green and pink Honda Civic, how things have grown! I’m so honoured, privileged and grateful for every opportunity that’s come my way along this journey. Team HARD is more than a race team to me, it’s family and to represent the team in the BTCC is such an unbelievable feeling. I just want to get started!
“I’m motivated by winning. That’s the goal, of course, but my job is simple: drive the team forward as much as possible and extract as much performance as possible on and off the track. I’ve got a very professional and ever improving squad behind me, with strong and fast teammates, so I’m keen to work together, learn and push forward.
“There’s no doubt things will be a bit rusty but I’m physically and mentally prepared for the challenge. The speed will come organically, the team know I can do it, and so do I. Obviously the circumstances aren’t ideal with Mike unfortunately not being able to race, he’ll be missed for sure! A real character of the paddock and definitely one of the fastest on the grid.”
Bushell, who rejoined the grid at Knockhill in 2019, replacing Sam Tordoff for the remainder of the season, was due to return to the BTCC for the 2020 campaign with Team HARD. Racing, and is understandably frustrated regarding the turn of events.
“I’m extremely frustrated to have yet another hurdle put in front of me in my pursuit of success in the BTCC,” said the Kent-born driver. “I had a good feeling about the development of the Volkswagen CC for 2020 and was excited to get behind the wheel. I’ve been in close contact with the team with the winter upgrades and was keen to start from where we left off in 2018.
“Unfortunately, there is still some damage and residual inflammation of my heart after falling ill at the start of February. It means that I am unable to hold a race licence, but more importantly, I’m not physically able to race at the moment and I have to put my health first.
“I will have to postpone my return the BTCC grid once again and focus on getting back to full health. I wish the team and Howard all the best for the start of the season.”
Fuller will be partnering Jack Goff in a two-car pairing but will also be working closely alongside Team HARD. Racing’s other drivers of Carl Boardley and Nic Hamilton as the team looks to build on a promising end to the 2019 season.