TEAM HARD. RACING: BRANDS HATCH IN QUOTES
Team HARD. Racing’s quintet of Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship drivers had a mixed weekend at the squad’s local circuit of Brands Hatch last weekend (14/15 May), with Bobby Thompson rounding off the day with a maiden podium at the Kent circuit.
Having qualified 19th on Saturday, Thompson improved throughout race day in his Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero Cupra to clinch third in the final encounter:
“Finally, we managed to draw in our first podium,” said the 25-year-old. “I think that is a huge jump for me in terms of mindset but also for the team. We know that we can do it and that we can hold our own against the more established teams in the series. In race three we were able to take it to the factory BMWs which proved in qualifying to be the car to beat this season.
“We didn’t quite maximise our qualifying on Saturday, but race day is where the points are won, and now we know we have a very strong race car in both the wet and dry. It’s testament to the team who have worked incredibly hard over the winter to put us in the best shape possible.
“Going into the rest of the season we will be looking for more podiums as well as continuing to bank those points in our pursuit for the Independents’ and Jack Sears championships.”
Team-mate Will Powell enjoyed his series debut on the 1.21-mile Indy circuit, having previously admitted his aim for the weekend was to learn as much as possible:
“What a baptism of fire! I’m loving being in the BTCC with Team HARD. Racing,” announced the rookie. “Brands was always going to be a massive learning curve but trying to learn the car in varying weather conditions, often racing on a slick tyre on a wet or damp track, was very challenging.
“The team did an amazing job to get my Cupra Leon ready and I just wanted to do it justice. With any new race car, you get teething problems, and we knew this weekend would be a ‘test’ in the public spotlight but there was no choice.
“In race one, we decided to roll the dice and went for slicks on the grid, even though the track was wet, gambling on it drying. Then when a dry line appeared late in the race, I managed to set some competitive times and learnt loads about driving a touring car on the limit! In race two I had a bit of bad luck, and then I made a poor start in Race 3 and ran wide on the slippery track causing the car to overheat with blocked radiators requiring a pit stop to clear the ducts. Classic rookie mistakes that we’ll learn from.
“Overall, I cannot thank my crew and the whole team enough for the faith they’ve shown in me. I’ve now racked up a couple of hours running in the car and I’m looking forward to the next three races at Thruxton which will hopefully be more ‘normal’ and will allow me to get to grips with the Cupra.”
Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing’s Aron Taylor-Smith consistently added to his Independent Drivers’ points, and now sits fifth in the Standings, despite a trying weekend:
“A difficult weekend for our side of the garage, qualifying put us on the backfoot and the changeable conditions on Sunday also threw another spanner in the works.
“For me personally, we struggled to find the sweet spot in terms of what we needed from the car but at the same time, we have done very limited wet running. Having said that we learned a lot about my own driving and what I need from a car in those conditions to make it quick.
“In summary, a character-building race day but at the same time still positives to be taken. One thing that has to stand out is Bobby’s podium, I am over the moon for him and the team because it’s great to see the team get the results they deserve. Hats off to him, he drove impeccably in all three races and thoroughly deserved those results.”
Nic Hamilton had a learning weekend, as he got used to the latest updates made to his car – to learn more about how Hamilton’s car differs from the others on the grid, click here.
“I’m pleased with the weekend and excited for the future after what we learnt this weekend,” said Hamilton. “We have a new servo-assisted brake pedal which wasn’t in the car until Saturday morning, and you don’t have a lot of time to get things sorted in practice, so Saturday was all about trying to fine-tune the brake pedal in the dry, but with rain ever-present on Sunday, it made the situation a lot more difficult.
“Getting the feeling with the new brake pedal in the rain during race one was a challenge as I’d never pressed the pedal before in the wet. Our pace showed progress throughout the day, and I didn’t feel any pain in the car which was nice and a really big improvement.
“I think we just need to fine-tune this brake pedal. Once we’re there, I will gain even more time and, to be honest, I’m proud of my performance. I was consistent, didn’t make any mistakes and I don’t think you could expect any more after such a drastic change in the braking system that I’d never driven before.”
Uptonsteel with Euro Car Parts Racing’s Rick Parfitt had a disappointing end to the weekend with an unfortunate retirement in the final race of the day, having secured a best finish of 22nd during the second encounter as he continues to adapt to his Infiniti Q50:
“Another tough weekend where we suffered a lot of niggles that hampered my progress. But the positives are that I went quicker every time I went out and I am finally starting to understand the car.
“We will come back stronger at Thruxton in a couple of weeks’ time.”