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TEAM HARD’S THRUXTON ROUND-UP

Team HARD. Racing’s four CUPRA Leons enjoyed a mixed weekend during their first competitive outing at Thruxton’s Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season opener a little over a week ago.

Find out what drivers Jack Goff, Aron Taylor-Smith, Nic Hamilton and Glynn Geddie had to say about the first race weekend of the 2021 season below…

Jack Goff, Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct, said:
“[Thruxton] was our first weekend in the brand new CUPRA and overall we’ve got to look at it as a massive positive. I came into the weekend wanting to finish all three races and pick up some points where we could, and we’ve achieved both of those things. It was unfortunate for Glynn but obviously it is a massive testament to everyone at Team HARD. and Willie Poole for building a very safe and strong car.

“We progressed the car every single session. The first weekend in a new car is never easy, let alone at Thruxton which I think shows up any issues with a car: it’s high speed, bumpy, has high braking zones, high-speed corners and you’re on a harder tyre so you haven’t got as much grip to hide any faults with the car. Then throw into the mix that every time we got on track it was different conditions. We had heavy rain in FP1, FP2 was a drying track on wets, in qualifying we started on wets, then went to slicks in the damp. Race one was our first time in the dry and driving the car on the hard tyre, then we made changes for race two which were positive. Our pace was a lot better in race two but then for race three it was wet again, everyone was on different tyres, it was dry in phases, then heavy rain, so overall it was a really tough weekend.

“However, the car ran faultlessly, and we managed to make improvements in every condition. We’ve come away from the weekend with our heads held high, but not getting ahead of ourselves. We are currently fighting in the top ten and are sitting just on the outskirts for outright pace which is good for the first weekend in the car out of a 29-car grid. I think we need to find two tenths, which is very achievable to get ourselves sitting comfortably within the top ten. I think everyone at Team HARD. should hold their heads high.”

Aron Taylor-Smith, Team HARD. with HUB Financial Solutions, said:
“For the CUPRA’s first weekend, every variable possible was thrown at it; from a new tyre compound in the hard tyre, to changeable conditions, to wet conditions, to even just running on wets for the first time – there were so many variables that needed to be overcome throughout the weekend and to be fair, everyone in the team took it in their stride.

“We made significant progress between races one and two and again from two to three. For me, I left Thruxton more confident than I’ve ever been in this team. This package, this new chassis, I know that everything has enormous potential and that it will challenge at the front. We are scraping at the surface of what it can achieve and already we are on the pace which is an enormous credit to everyone in the team.

“It’s also not lost on me that this is my first touring car and front-wheel drive race weekend in four years and my first race weekend in over 12 months. For the team to have made me feel as comfortable as I am within the car, the crew and the race conditions, is a credit again to the structure that both Tony [Gilham] and Jamie [Warren] have built. It’s only the start, and I can already tell there is going to be a very successful future. I couldn’t be happier to come away with a few good races under my belt knowing that we have a lot of potential and now we will roll into Snetterton and hopefully be in an even better place.”

Nic Hamilton, ROKiT Racing with iQuoto Online Trading, said:
“[Race day] was a decent day, and a learning day. For race one we were in the mix, but we had a grass and overheating issue with the engine which meant I had to pit and ended up a couple of laps down. Then race two was all about trying to develop the car to make it better and stronger. Thruxton is such as hard circuit. It’s high speed, you need to have a lot of confidence and belief in the car, and you need to know the car like the back of your hand. Obviously, this is a new car for us and the first time we’ve driven it in the dry, the wet and on hard tyres as well so there is still a lot to learn, but the team has been fantastic, and I’d say the car has been pretty faultless with no issues which is great.

“Race three I would say was a strong race for me. We were on the wet tyre and we seemed like we had good pace in comparison to the other wet runners. The problem is that our car goes off after a good three or four laps and that’s the development that we need to make. We need to keep on top of it and understand why to keep us in the pocket. P17 for me from P22 is pretty decent, I’m happy to bring the car home in one piece considering it’s Thruxton, which is generally a nightmare. All round I had a good solid weekend.

“There’s a lot of work for me to do on my pace but I think this is going to be my worst weekend this year and it was still not too bad so I’m going to keep pushing and we are going to get stronger. I’ll be coming back fighting at Snetterton.”

Glynn Geddie, Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct, said:
“I’m back in the BTCC with a literal bang. That wasn’t the weekend we were after, especially seeing the potential that the other guys in the CUPRA were able to show on race day in both the wet and dry conditions. I’m really disappointed to have only really raced in race one, which was basically a shakedown of the car after Saturday’s incident which also put us on the back foot.

“Race one was great. I made progress through the field which I was pleased about considering the race for me was all about finding balance in the car and learning what work there was to do on the set up of the car after the race. For race two, I was super excited to move forward further and try and get into that final few points-paying positions to reward my guys for re-building the front end of the car after Saturday, but unfortunately it seems that wasn’t meant to be. I was caught up in a three-car tangle down at turn one on the opening lap which ruined the car. It was a case of the wrong place at the wrong time for me and I am just devastated for all the team as I know how much effort they have put into building these new CUPRAs. It was one of those things I just couldn’t avoid but I’m OK. I went to the medical centre for a few checks, and was confirmed to be OK pretty soon after the accident, which is a testament to the guys who have built a safe car.

“For now, it’s back to the drawing board and back to Scotland for me. My season really starts at the next round at Snetterton where hopefully I will be able to come back stronger and see a few fans there too.”

The team’s next competitive outing will see the quartet of CUPRAs on track at Snetterton on 12/13 June, as the second event of the 2021 campaign gets underway in just under four weeks.

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