At the recent 2015 Autosport International Show I spoke with Tony Gilham, Team Principle of Team HARD and former BTCC driver. Tony last drove in the BTCC back in 2012 in the Team HARD Super 2000 Honda Civic before driving the Thorney Motorsport NGTC Vauxhall Insignia at Snetterton. Team HARD purchased the Insignia and ran it at the 2012 Brands Hatch finale. Tony then introduced the Team HARD NGTC Vauxhall Insignia’s and the NGTC VW Passat CC’s for the 2013 season as Team Principle for Team HARD.
Team HARD have also been a constant growing prescence in the UK Volkswagen Cup, running Volkswagen Golf’s and Volkswagen Scirocco’s in what is considered one of the most competitive tintop feeder series in the UK.
I asked Tony about his plans for the team in 2015 and which series Team HARD would be competing in this year.
“We’re now into double figures with our Volkswagen cars. We’ve got ten Volkswagen Cup cars, eight so far in the VW Cup with a further two in the VAG Trophy although there is the potential we could add to that number before the start of the season. We also recently announced an entry in the Clio Cup for Kieran Gallagher and it will be good to be back in the TOCA Paddock for this season,” Gilham explained, confirming the two different series that Team HARD. will competing in for 2015.
But its obvious there is still unfinished business for Tony in the British Touring Car Championship. I asked him if there were any plans to return to the BTCC in the future.
“We want to be back in Touring Cars, 100 per cent. However with the new licensing system thats come in (The TBL’s), its difficult to find your way back in to the BTCC. But we have the plans in place to bring back the Volvo name to the BTCC and we have proven previously with the Insignia’s and the Passat’s that we can build competitive NGTC cars,” Tony explained, building on the Teams recent announcement of building an NGTC Volvo S60 as a long term goal to return to the BTCC.
However, the Team HARD Clio Cup entry is also something that Tony sees as a long term plan for 2015 and beyond, looking to field further entries alongside the already confirmed Kieran Gallagher…
“We want a long term relationship with the Renault Clio Cup, its a fantastic series to be in and to watch. Obviously Kieran is our first entry and also the start of our commitment to the championship as well and we are talking to one or two other drivers about joining our programme. Ideally we want to have a regular experienced Clio Cup driver join the team to help us develop further because we want to be at the front and thats the same for any championship we compete in,” Tony explained, confirming that Clio Cup is another long term goal of Team HARD.
Tony has been one of many drivers who has been both a Driver and a Team Manager in the BTCC and I asked him what it meant to bring Team HARD back towards topline tintop racing again…
“Importantly for us its about doing it right. We’re starting again and we’re going back to the drawing board and relaunching ourselves, taking it step by step. However The BTCC remains the target. For me I have unfinished business as a driver but, as a Team Manager, if I can use my sponsors to help other drivers achieve their dreams in either the VW Cup or Clio Cup or the BTCC, I would rather use my budget to help get the likes of Jack Goff and Dave Newsham going racing for us as they deserve to be racing in the BTCC,” Tony explained, making it clear he is happy being either a Driver or Team Manager.
What I found obvious from talking to Tony Gilham is that the drive and determination that got him into Touring Cars is still there and that he is working very hard to bring the “Team HARD” brand back into the BTCC and be competing with and against the best again.
Something else I have noticed that hasn’t faltered is the fan support for Tony & Team HARD on Social Media, with a lot of talk about a possible return of the team & driver to the BTCC in various different online groups and that there is plenty of support to see it happen.
All the best!
All the best from the Guru!!