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TEAM HARD. RACING REFLECTS ON TYRE TEST

Another Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship race week arises and, as we head into the second half of the 2022 campaign, let’s check in with how Team HARD. Racing drivers Aron Taylor-Smith, Bobby Thompson, Will Powell and Nic Hamilton faired at Snetterton during the Goodyear tyre test little under two weeks ago (12/13 July).

Bobby Thompson said: “Two days done at the Goodyear tyre test at Snetterton. There was lots learned with some bits that we will take into the second half of the season and some things that we will leave behind. It’s good to finally put these set-up questions to bed. Real positive stuff overall, I’m happy.

“I still think we have a car that can sit in the top five which is really positive. We have definitely come away with a decent qualifying car, something that we have been lacking so far this season. The car feels decent and with that, we can attack everyone at Knockhill and move up the championship.”

Will Powell said: “I’d been excited for the two-day test as it was the first opportunity I had to drive the Cupra Leon outside of busy race weekend schedules. That gave me and the team more flexibility to try different setups with the car and get lots of laps to try things and explore the limits.

“The race meetings are so intense that you can’t really afford to try something and make a mistake in any session but here we can. The high temperatures put a lot of stress on the cars but as a team we made good progress, particularly in terms of understanding our qualifying pace.

“I put in a couple of race runs with a good spread of pace on par with my team-mates. So overall we achieved many of the goals that we set for ourselves and while we are not right at the sharp end in terms of outright pace, we are making big steps in the right direction.”

Aron Taylor-Smith said: “The two-day tyre test at Snetterton is always a pivotal point in the season because you get to try things on the car that you haven’t tried before and explore avenues that over the confinement of a race weekend you just don’t have the time for.

“We went there with an entirely different set-up on the car and to be fair it has been beneficial because it’s kind of the first time we’ve been able to work as a complete team with a baseline car to tweak and develop. Obviously, we were pretty unfortunate on the first day, a little rubber silicon seal broke in the engine resulting in the engine, gearbox and everything in the engine bay having to come out which prevented us from doing any meaningful running on day one.

“Luckily on the second day, we had a very productive morning. The sun was out so we got to do plenty of hot-lap running, I would say it was borderline too hot because all of the cars up and down the grid were struggling with the temperatures and trying to find the right time to run was tricky, as at one point the track temperature was like 47 degrees!

“In general, from the Cupra side, I think it has cemented the fact the team are on the same page and we can develop a set-up moving forward that will kind of get us that qualifying pace that we’ve been lacking to date.

“So, I think it has given me some really good direction, really good indications of what’s capable with the car so I left the test happy, we obviously have areas to further improve on but now is the time and this last little push to really make the most of the second half of the season.”

Nic Hamilton said: “A very productive tyre test for us. We had a lot to go through, a lot of programmes that we completed which is good.

“I feel like as a team we have really progressed, mainly as we made a huge change overnight which meant that we basically went to Bobby’s set-up and, for me, it completely transformed the car. On the second morning, it was the most consistent and strongest race run I’d say I’ve done in a touring car which was really cool.

“Obviously at Snetterton, the track changes with the weather in terms of pace and speed. So, I was on old tyres at the wrong time. We weren’t really in it for lap times but our race pace was very strong. We went out at the very end of the day on new tyres and it was a little bit too hot and we just struggled for balance. But, that’s the whole point about testing and we now know exactly what to do for FP1 going forward.

“Overall, I think it’s been an amazing two days and the boys and girls at Team HARD, who have done an amazing job and for me. I feel like I’m progressing a lot more and a lot faster than I have been in previous years. So, I leave here pretty happy but there is still more work for us to do and we’ll wait and see what happens when we get back in action at Knockhill.”

The second half of the BTCC season commences in Scotland this weekend (30/31 July) with Fife’s tight and undulating Knockhill Circuit set to host.

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