Former Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship squad Team HARD Racing has become the latest addition to the Renault UK Clio Cup grid after today, Thursday, 18th December, confirming rising Scottish star Kieran Gallagher as its first driver signing for 2015.
Led by ex-BTCC racer Tony Gilham, the Kent squad is thrilled to announce its return to the touring car package, as well as its debut in Renault Clio racing, after buying one of the latest fourth generation cars as part of a planned multi-car attack on the ever-popular BTCC feeder category.
With designs on re-entering touring car racing in the near future, Team HARD sees participation in the Renault UK Clio Cup as a key part of its saloon car racing ladder, providing a real grounding for drivers who have aspirations of competing in the BTCC.
“It’s fantastic to be back on the TOCA package and we’re delighted to be making our debut in the Clio Cup”, said team principal Gilham, “We’re hoping to be back in touring cars sooner rather than later but we want to grow on the support package as well, with the new Clio being in its second year in the UK next season this is perfect timing for us.
“Initially, we’ll have one car for Kieran [Gallagher] which we hope to have before Christmas but we’re looking to speak with other drivers too, so we could end up running two, three or four. We’ve already got new staff in place with experience of the latest Clio so things are looking good. It’s fantastic Team HARD Racing will be back as part of the BTCC weekends.”
Glasgow-based Gallagher, who has only been racing competitively at any level since May 2012, did consider a move into the Renault UK Clio Cup this year but preferred to concentrate on securing the full budget for a major assault on the championship in 2015.
Gallagher debuted in the Volkswagen Racing Cup in 2013 but the highlight of his season came on home ground, at Knockhill in Fife, when he made his BTCC bow at the wheel of a Vauxhall Insignia run by Team HARD under the RCIB Insurance Racing banner.
Returning to the VW Cup this year, where he ended the season 16th overall, the 24-year-old also made a one-off appearance in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship during the season-opening event at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit where he secured two Pro-Am 1 class podiums.
“I want to go to touring cars full-time but we need to prepare correctly for that, so Clio Cup is the perfect stepping stone”, said the Clydesdale Surveys and Ecotune-backed driver, “My career has gone a lot further than planned already, obviously making my debut in touring cars within just over a year of starting racing and finishing in P13 at my home track was pretty good!
“We were planning to do Clios this year, but we needed a bit more budget and we didn’t want to come in for just a few races, we want to attack it with a full season. I’ve had numerous opportunities to go with a lot of teams, but we’ve got strong links at Team HARD and a lot of good friends there.”
Gallagher added: “Finishing in the top six at the end of the year would be good, I want to try and get a couple of podiums along the way and if I get a win or two that’d be fantastic. Realistically, though, if I can try and end the year in the championship top five I’ll be really happy.”
As the third BTCC-linked team to announce its intention to participate in the Renault UK Clio Cup next year, Team HARD Racing will bring yet more gravitas to the championship and momentum as the series builds towards its second season of the fourth generation Renault Clio era.
“Team HARD Racing is a very welcome addition to the Clio Cup grid and we’re absolutely delighted to see Tony Gilham bringing an up-and-coming driver like Kieran into the series”, said Will Fewkes, championship manager, “The team obviously has strong experience of touring cars and one-make racing too, so we’re very much looking forward to seeing how they get on in the Clio Cup in 2015.”