Photo: Renaultsport

Clio Cup champion Mike Bushell returns to BTCC with Team HARD

Two time Clio Cup UK title winner Mike Bushell will make a return to the BTCC grid for 2018 after agreeing a deal to join Team HARD for his second full season in the series.

The 28-year-old – who made his debut in a one off at Knockhill in 2013 – last raced in the series back in 2015 with the team before returning to the Clio series, where he added to his 2014 crown with a dominant performance on track this year.

Bushell was one of the drivers linked to a potential programme in the new TCR UK series for next year and has tested with his Clio Cup outfit Team Pyro in recent weeks at the wheel of a Honda Civic.

Instead however, Bushell becomes the second driver to be confirmed with Tony Gilham’s BTCC squad and will join up with Bobby Thompson at the wheel of a Volkswagen CC next year.

“I am ecstatic to be returning to the BTCC having notched a second UK Renault Clio Cup title,” he said. “On top of that, I am excited to be making my return with Team HARD and Brisky Racing as they have been going from strength to strength.

“With the new technical input from Geoff Kingston, coupled with an already proven race-winning car in the Volkswagen CC, I firmly believe that a strong challenge can be made for the Independent Drivers’ title next year.

“However, the partnership extends beyond the on-track potential and into the infrastructure the outfit has at hand to help me forge a long career in the BTCC.

“I am itching to get out on track and in the car for our first test and build a strong relationship with everyone. The team has pulled out all stops to help me return to the BTCC grid and I look to reward them with some great results.”

Team boss Gilham admitted his delight at bringing Bushell onboard for the new season, and said he was confident that the series returnee would be a strong contender in 2018.

“We are really looking forward to working with Mike next year,” he said. “We have a very competitive package for 2018 and have been in discussions to secure talented drivers.

“We now have the ability to fight with the best on the grid, so we’re looking to secure only those that have shown outstanding race craft. Between myself and Richard (Wheeler) we have put a great package in place to bring Mike back to the BTCC at a time when we can mount a strong challenge.”