Hornchurch's Thompson to return to Team HARD for 2019 BTCC season
PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 November 2018
The 22-year-old made a positive impression in 2018 after finishing fifth in the Dunlop forever Forward standings
Bobby Thompson will return to the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in 2019 with Team HARD for his second season in Britain’s premier domestic race series.
The 22 year-old Hornchurch based driver will once again pilot his familiar #19 VW CC, which is currently undergoing an extensive off-season development programme at the hands of the Kent based team.
Thompson joins his 2018 Team HARD teammate Mike Bushell as one half of Tony Gilham’s four-pronged BTCC assault and says with the development programme the team have committed to over the winter months, victory in the 2019 Jack Sears Trophy and regular top ten finishes are just some of the targets he has as he seeks to build on a promising debut season.
“I’m obviously delighted to confirm that I will be back in the BTCC in 2019,” Thompson said, after he finished 10th in this year’s Jack Sears Trophy and fifth in the Dunlop Forever Forward standings.
“After sitting down with Tony Gilham and seeing the changes to the cars and the team itself, I am 100 per cent certain that we will be in a position to make huge strides up the grid in 2019.
“We showed glimpses of what we are capable of in 2018, but when we sat down to discuss the future we all recognised where we needed to improve and what we needed to do to turn those glimpses into regular top 10 performances.
“I’m really pleased we can continue my journey towards the top step of the podium together. The BTCC is by far the most intense, competitive and professional championship I have ever been a part of and I am determined to pick up where we left off in 2018.
“I am going to be a stronger driver and with the work the team and Mike [Bushell] are already doing, I know that the team as a whole will be stronger too.”
Next year, 2019, will mark the fourth season that Thompson and the Dartford based Team HARD have worked together, a relationship that began when Thompson was selected as part of the team’s inaugural VW Cup Series Young Driver programme in 2015.
After claiming several race wins as a rookie in 2015, Thompson returned to the Team HARD stable in 2017 and dominated the series, claiming six wins en-route to the title before graduating to the BTCC in his familiar #19 machine for last year’s historic Diamond Jubilee season.
He said: “Both I and my whole family strongly believe loyalty is important in racing and I have a group of loyal sponsors who have supported me through thick and thin.
“Without the support of them and Tony’s support, my dream of being a BTCC driver would have died a long time ago. Tony [Gilham] has been a huge believer in me for a number of years and while last year wasn’t our most successful together, it is important for me to finish a job that we started back in 2015 and that job is to win in the BTCC.”
Team HARD principal Gilham was also delighted to have retained Thompson for the 2019 campaign as the popular Kent based outfit continue to prepare for their eighth season in the BTCC.
“Bobby is a very special talent and one that can go to the very top,” Gilham insisted. “He has amazing natural ability and will shine in 2019.
“We had a mixed season this year in the BTCC, but Bobby’s performances were noticed by many and the whole team are behind him as we aim to move up the grid together.
“It was very important for us to retain Bobby following his debut season and after recently confirming Mike (Bushell), this gives us a solid foundation on which to build on as we have a number of upgrades for the VW CC for 2019 and our winter test programme has already begun.
“This is a very exciting signing for us and as Bobby mentioned, we also firmly believe in loyalty and are very proud that Bobby is back with us.
“To get our driver line up in place early will help us over the winter months really work on our programme for 2019.”
Thompson and Team HARD will continue their extensive off-season development programme with the #19 VW CC in the coming weeks.