Having already announced they are running cars in the Volkswagen Racing Cup and the VAG trophy, on Wednesday they announced they are to run a Toyota Avensis in the BTCC and two Ginetta G55 Gt4’s in British GT.
Former MINI Challenge champion Chris Smiley, is their driver that will take over their Toyota Avensis in the BTCC. The car was driven last year by Kieran Gallagher and later in the season by Tony Gillham but the team now hope they have a driver to take them into the points in a car which has been lightened and updated over the winter.
Gillham is pleased with his BTCC signing;
“We have obviously worked with Chris before and have followed his progress closely throughout,” said Gilham. “Everyone who has come into contact with him knows he is a talent, and we are convinced he is more than ready to make his debut in what we regard as the world’s premier touring car championship. He is quick, dedicated and has a burning passion to succeed.
“The BTCC is ultra-competitive, but with Chris behind the wheel and the raft of updates we have brought to the Avensis in recent months, there is no reason at all why we can’t finish regularly inside the points this year. That has to be our target.”
Smiley, who is from Northern Ireland accepts it’ll be a challenge but is looking forward to it;
“Whilst the NGTC Toyota cars aren’t a world away from the Minis or the Scirocco – they’re all turbocharged and front-wheel-drive – they are weighted very differently and the suspension behaves differently as they aren’t production cars, so they feel racier,” he explained. “I also have to learn about the tyres, because this will be the first time I’ve raced in a series with two different compounds. That all adds to the challenge, but I can’t wait to get going.
“The BTCC has been a dream of mine for many years, right back to when I was in karting. It will be exciting to renew battle with some of my former rivals like Jack Goff and Tom Ingram – just like old days!”
On the British GT side, the team have announced they have purchased two Ginetta’s but are yet to reveal who will be behind the wheel.
“We’ve been on the package for some time and have seen GT4’s recent growth up close for ourselves, so it was an obvious choice,” he said. “GT3 remains the ultimate ambition but we’re not taking the series lightly and see GT4 as a logical and necessary step towards it.” Said Gillham
“But we have every intention of hitting the ground running and have invested heavily as a result. I know everyone says it but we’re here to win and the driver strength reflects that. We’ll hopefully be announcing our drivers in the coming weeks but I can tell you that we have some very rapid guys with the necessary experience to shake up the established order.”
Team Hard also have a tie up with the Jam Sport team who run cars in both the Clio and Fiesta championships including Fiesta Juniors so they now have capacity to take drivers from the start of their driving career right up to the top levels in the UK.
“We see British GT and BTCC as the two highest echelons of UK motorsport, so adding the former was essential for completing our talent ladder. We’re all about investing in the future and British GT4 provides that.”By Marc Waller