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TEAM HARD. RACING’S CROFT WEEKEND IN QUOTES

It was a testing weekend in North Yorkshire for Team HARD. Racing during the latest rounds of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, with mixed results for the quartet of Cupra drivers at Croft (25/26 June).

After securing 13th in qualifying, Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero man Bobby Thompson would improve to 12th in the opening contest, following the result up with another points finish in 14th before taking another 12th-place finish to end the day.

“Race day was a bit of a reassurance in terms of the chassis performance,” said Thompson. “We found a really good baseline setup which is an evolution of what we started the season with and is a great step up. The chassis was fantastic, through the corners we are as quick as anyone. Unfortunately, we need the straight-line speed to overtake and we just didn’t have that this weekend.

“I honestly believe we had a car that could battle in the top five, but it was a case of getting there and that just proved to be an impossible task. Next up is Knockhill, which is better suited to cars that are strong in changes of direction, traction and braking, so I’m really looking forward to heading north of the border after the summer break!

Nic Hamilton improved throughout Sunday’s race day, from 26th on the grid for the opener to end the day with 21st in race three.

“All in all, a really great day on race day at Croft,” added Hamilton. “I managed to turn it around after a below-par performance from me on Saturday with a few mistakes, but I’m proud to have turned it around with consistent results.

“My expectations have completely changed and have risen because I’m driving a lot better than I ever have before, and to be able to do that on Sunday was really good. On paper, it might not look like much as the results are much the same, but our lap times and how close we are to the rest of the field has changed massively which is a huge improvement.

“We know we have a little bit more time to find to make sure we are in that next group, between the top 20 to top 15. I have a couple more tenths to find in order to achieve that, but we will find that throughout the two-day tyre test at Snetterton where we can fine-tune the car a little bit more and work on my servo-brakes which have been a huge help this year.

“So a great weekend in the end and to turn it around from a lackluster Saturday is good. I’m leaving Croft really happy.”

Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing’s Aron Taylor-Smith endured a tough weekend, with the #40 machine suffering DNFs in both the first and last races of the day.

“A very challenging weekend on our side of the garage,” admitted Taylor-Smith. “I think our weekend was compromised by engine issues through no fault of our own which really put us on the back foot. These started on Saturday so we spent all day rooting around trying to find the cause of the problems which prevented us from developing the chassis and, as a result, we were on the back foot going into the races. Then the issues continued on Sunday despite trying everything we could.

“We had component failures in both race one and race three which took away the opportunity to score points this weekend and my heart goes out to the team as they work incredibly hard to give us the best chance possible but it wasn’t meant to be this weekend.

“In life it doesn’t always go your way, but next up we have the two-day tyre test at Snetterton to continue our development. We will be starting the second half of the season with a clean slate so forget everything that has gone wrong in the season to date and we will look to score as many points as we can in the second half of the season to rise up the championship standings and put the Cupra Leon where it belongs.

“Very much a character-building and ego-denting weekend but at the same time what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and we will be aiming to do just that!”

Having qualified 27th on Saturday, series rookie Will Powell suffered a race-ending puncture during the initial contest before improving in the following outings to take the chequered flag in 24th and 22nd.

“An interesting weekend at Croft,” concluded Powell. “It’s not a circuit I have visited much before so it was always going to be a steep learning curve this weekend in the BTCC. I feel like we got to where we needed to be on Saturday afternoon on Sunday afternoon so we need to work on that to make sure we are on it from the get-go; both the team and myself.

“By Sunday afternoon we had a fantastic race car under us and we would have made good progress if it wasn’t for punctures in two races. It’s just one of those things. We didn’t get much luck this weekend but we are learning all the time and now we go into the summer break with two proper test days at Snetterton. This is something I’ve not been able to do since we started so I can’t wait for those.

“So, a few weeks to regroup and we go again for the second half of the season which is going to be really competitive. I can’t wait to see everyone soon.”

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