Thursday, August 09 2012
It's all change for Team HARD at this weekend's (11/12 August) Snetterton round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. Team boss Tony Gilham has vacated the seat of his Civic in favour of American racer Robb Holland, but rather than spending the weekend on the sidelines, he'll now be racing Thorney Motorsport's Insignia!
American driver Holland, who has previously raced in the SCCA World Challenge touring car series, becomes the first driver from that continent to compete in the BTCC since the 1970s. The 44-year-old follows such illustrious names as F1 drivers Richie Ginther and Dan Gurney, plus Hollywood legend Steve McQueen.
Holland, from Colorado, said: "The BTCC is very popular in the States, particularly when it's shown on the Speed channel, plus I've followed it for some time. I like Tony and the team's attitude and the opportunity was too good to miss. This will be a toe-in-the-water exercise, but I've talked to Tony and a few other teams and am planning on being in the championship permanently in 2013."
Speaking after Holland's recent test at Snetterton, Gilham said: "I was very impressed. The test started out wet and Robb adapted, quite literally, like a duck to water - despite having never driven the car or seen Snetterton before. Robb then got onto the pace very quickly when he got some limited dry running later in the day."
Gilham has good reason to deputise for John Thorne in the Insignia: "It'll be valuable NGTC experience for everyone within Team HARD," he explained. "That's the route for us in the future and we hope to have a considerable presence on the grid next season. I won't see the Insignia until the first practice session on Saturday morning but the aim will be to steadily work away at the set-up and keep chipping away at the lap times."
He added: "It's obviously going to be a very busy weekend for me, driving the Insignia and overseeing Robb's debut in our Civic but I've drafted in extra staff to ensure it all runs smoothly. It's important Robb is properly looked after on his first outing with us - I am sure he is going to be competitive."
Tickets for this weekend's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton are available from £25, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.