Hornchurch’s Thompson all geared up for BTCC debut at Brands after impressive test
PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 April 2018
Hornchurch’s Bobby Thompson begins the next chapter in his motor-racing career at Brands Hatch this weekend.
Thompson, 21, competes in the first round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, having won the VW Cup last year.
And he makes the short trip over the Dartford Bridge in confident mood after impressing at the BTCC media day at Donington Park.
Thompson joined a 32-strong capacity grid including no less than 17 former BTCC race winners at the Leicestershire venue as the championship that ranks third behind only Formula One and NASCAR in terms of continuous participation unveiled a history making and potentially record breaking 60th anniversary season.
And his number 19 Trade Price Cars Racing with Team HARD VW Passat provided a colourful addition to the array of machines, with its distinctive livery of primary supporters GKR Scaffolding mixed with the colourful myriad of his other official sponsors.
After completing nearly 50 trouble-free laps of Donington’s 1.979-mile circuit under the watchful eye of Phil Overall, he said: “When I first sat down for the driver unveilings I looked around and saw many of my racing heroes but I had to quickly remember that they aren’t my idols this year, they are my rivals.
“That really helped me to focus on my job and now we have all been out on track together for testing I just feel like part of the BTCC family like everyone else.”
After the driver announcements and the public unveiling of the cars, morning showers dispersed and gave drivers a chance to push the limits of their new charges during the four-hour test session on completely dry tarmac.
Former Emerson Park pupil Thompson, nominated as one of the rising stars of the British Racing Drivers Club, and his crew stuck to their pre-planned list of system checks and set-up changes, which made his 0.9secs deficit to the best time of the day extremely encouraging.
“Bobby has been impressive for us since day one,” added Team HARD Principal Tony Gilham, who first signed the youngster in 2015 as part of their VW Cup Junior Driver programme.
“We knew at the end of last season he was ready for the BTCC and he has proved us right every step of the way. We knew where we were at the start of the day and where we wanted to be at the end of the day and we achieved that without any mistakes or putting any unnecessary stress on the equipment.
“We know where we believe Bobby can be this year and today he did exactly what we wanted. There is no use putting added pressure on him with an artificially fast lap in testing as it is a long season ahead.”