Team HARD. look back on Donington Park
There are only a few days to go until the second instalment of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent.
The historically competitive and close track is an important event for Team HARD., who will be looking to maximise performance in front of a passionate home crowd.
Donington Park (22/23 April) saw some brilliant moments for the team, with Nic Hamilton’s career best finish in P6, Bobby Thompson securing an independent win, and all three outfits scoring points.
Here is what the drivers had to say about the opening event…
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Bobby Thompson: “We knew coming into round one that we were going to be on the backfoot this weekend having only finished building the car late Thursday night. There will always be teething problems with a brand-new car and getting all of the components to sing from the same hymn sheet always has its challenges, so Saturday was just about getting through that phase of the project.
“Coming into Sunday we knew we had a job on our hands starting 22nd but we produced three really good results and to get into the reverse grid spots was mega. I’m really happy that I was able to give the Team HARD. staff an independent win to say thank you for all of their hard work this winter and weekend, it’s been a massive job for all involved and I’m super grateful.
“Looking forward to the next round, it’s a track we know the car performs well and I’ll be hoping to repeat last year’s podium at the teams home track at Brands Hatch.”
Dan Lloyd: “It was a weekend of what could have been. I think myself and the team did a really good job in general, qualifying was really strong, and we have lots of potential there.
“Race 1 started really well as I managed to progress to 8th and was looking comfortable before [an incident], which meant we couldn’t capitalise on the benefits of running so far up the order.
“Race 2 was a lottery with tyre choice with half the grid choosing wet tyre and we stayed on slicks – which ultimately was the wrong choice after the rain came down. Despite the wrong strategy choice and crazy conditions, we still moved up from 19th on the grid to 13th, so we have to take positives from that.
“For the final race of the day, I tried something new with the setup and I got myself up to 6th from 13th on the grid which was great, but I could feel something wasn’t right after the first couple of laps.
“There are many positives to take from the weekend but unfortunately, we didn’t capitalise on any of it really through a mixture of events. We’ll be back stronger at Brands Hatch in a few weeks’ time.”
Re. Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD.
Dexter Patterson: “In the end, I’m happy with race day here at Donington Park. We didn’t really know what to expect coming into the weekend due to our lack of testing, so to come away with a points finish in race one was really nice and a good start to our season.
“I got a bit caught out in race two with the weather, we were in the top 10 but the rain came at the worst possible moment for me and by the time we got into pit lane and changed tyres, we were a lap down and unable to move back up the pack.
“We struggled in race three with understeer and it highlighted some areas of the car we need to work on, but we know what we need to do so I’m confident that we will be stronger next time out.”
Jade Edwards: “A mixed race day from me sadly. I knew that it was going to be difficult with the lateness of the car build and all I wanted was a car that could get me to the finish of the three races and performance as such wasn’t as important this weekend.
“So, to come away with three DNF’s in one day was really hard to take, and race two was the biggest bitter pill to swallow. My engineer Phil and I made the decision on the grid to change to wet tyres and therefore we didn’t even do the green flag lap and started the race behind Nic [Hamilton] from the pitlane. I was running as the fifth car on wets when the safety car came in and knowing how the race unfolded now, I know that we would have been on for my best result in the BTCC to date and a top five position was on the cards.
“We’ve got two weeks now to regroup, the cars are being stripped back and prepped at the factory and I believe that my season will properly start at Brands Hatch in two weeks.”
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Nic Hamilton: “This is the most amazing and meaningful day of my racing career. Honestly, it was the best day ever. To come up with the decision to go onto the wet tyre at the start of race two – which I’d love to say was my idea but it wasn’t, it was my engineer Geoff who made that call for me – was a master stroke. It ended up being the right choice and only three of us started the race from the pitlane on wets and we were able to catch the pack after four corners, so I knew we’d made the right choice.
“Sadly, a safety car came out soon after the start which allowed everyone the time to pit and switch to the correct tyre, without that I think a podium could have been on the cards, so that was a shame. I was also unsure whether we would have the pace to maintain our position once others had made the change, but I was surprised when we did and I really held my own with a strong pace to allow me to run where I was on merit. At one stage I was up to 4th position which is a new best for me.
“Unfortunately, I made one mistake which dropped me back to 6th but honestly, this is the best result I could have ever imagined. To see the whole team waiting for me when I came into the pitlane after the race to greet me as well as my brother, mum and dad being there to witness the best drive of my career was a moment I will cherish forever.”
Jack Butel: “The day started really well in race one, after a good start I managed to pick up a couple of positions, but the car started to pick up a misfire which pushed me back as I was unable to defend my position.
“Race two I started from the pitlane. We managed to get the wets on which was vital and came out after the safety car behind one of the NAPA Racing UK Fords and I was confident of a good result. Sadly, there was a problem with the gear rod, a connector snapped and it failed meaning that I was unable to finish the race. I’m gutted because I was on for a good haul of points.
“I made a mistake off the line in race 3 and pressed the wrong button on my steering wheel and the pit limiter came on. I had passed two cars off the line, but they very quickly got back passed and I was soon at the back. I made my way back through the pack to 17th which isn’t points but I’m happy with the comeback drive after a difficult day.
“Overall, I think it was a very good learning curve weekend and a good one for the team with Nic (Hamilton) finishing 6th being the highlight of the weekend. We are all so proud of him and this is a reward for all of his hard work to continue to defy the odds!”
The 2023 campaign shifts to Brands Hatch this weekend (6/ 7 May), and Sunday’s action will be live on ITV4 from 1115am.