TEAM HARD. RACING’S TONY GILHAM AIMING FOR THE SHARP END
This week the Official BTCC website caught up with Team HARD. Racing’s Managing Director, Tony Gilham, to find out some behind the scenes information about the squad’s fleet of Cupra Leons, its plans for the 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship and more.
Check out the Q&A below for the latest…
We’ve seen a few sneak peeks of the new Cupra Leons in the factory, how is the build coming along?
It’s coming along nicely, with three of the four shells back at base and being prepared for their on-track debut. We are putting in all of the work now so that we are not only ready for the 2021 season but also the 2022 hybrid era. The 2022 season will see a number of changes to the cars under the bodywork and to get ahead of the game by preparing our cars now is a big step.
With four drivers out there gathering data, the development process for the cars should be really interesting, what are your expectations for it?
As everyone knows, anything can happen in racing and often does when you least expect it. However, we are building brand new cars for this season so, without making any predictions, all I would like is for our cars to be right at the sharp end and challenging for honours whenever possible. It’s a big year for the team and I have every faith in the work that everyone is doing and the development that has gone into them.
What are your plans for testing with the new cars?
We don’t have an official launch date yet, we are keeping that one a surprise until nearer the time. However, we have an extensive test plan scheduled before the season opener with all four of our drivers and, COVID-19 permitting, we are hoping to be able to invite along some of our partners and fans so they can see our new charger in action!
Obviously in 2020 you had a few different drivers in the Volkswagen CCs throughout the year, including 2021 driver Glynn Geddie, how did their performance effect which drivers you considered for this coming campaign?
The second seat in the Volkswagen CC in 2020 turned into a bit of a hot seat after Mike [Bushell’s] illness. Long term Team HARD. driver Howard [Fuller] was due to race and then COVID-19 halted the entire country. From that moment I got the feeling it wasn’t going to be an easy season.
It would have been easy to retire the car for the season but that’s not how we do things here. Instead, we took the opportunity to bring in new talent and reignite our relationships with some former drivers, which was fantastic.
Glynn was fantastic from the get-go and really impressed the whole team. It had been a while since he’d been in front-wheel-drive machinery but the cohesion between Jack [Goff] and him was brilliant to see. When Glynn joined the team for the final two events, it was always with a view to then do the 2021 season in full and in those two weekends he proved to us just as much as we proved to him, that together we can mix it at the sharp end this year.
Your line-up so far sees Aron Taylor-Smith return to the BTCC after three years away from the series; what are your expectations for him considering returning drivers often comment on the ever-increasing level of the championship?
Aron is a fantastic driver, whom I’ve worked with before, with a successful history in the BTCC. It’s true that the championship is getting more competitive every year, but Aron is no slouch and has been working hard in the off-season to come back stronger and fitter than ever.
Aron and Jack have worked together before and that should help Aron settle into the team quickly. His enthusiasm for our Cupra project is infectious – I think he might actually be more excited than me. Together we can achieve great things!
When can we expect to hear about your final driver signing?
So, the final driver has signed on the dotted line for this season. The announcement? Well that’s still up for debate… watch this space.
Talk us through what your commercial partnership with Laser Tools Racing will mean for both teams?
We have had a good friendship with the Moffat family for several years now, so this commercial agreement was no surprise to us.
The Laser Tools Racing name is well established within the BTCC as it enters its eighth consecutive season and as such, we feel that collectively we can increase the building of the corporate side of our business, which is a key element of what we do. We now both have what we believe is a complete package that is unrivalled both on and off track.