Photo: PSP Images

Bobby Thompson re-signs with Team HARD

Bobby Thompson will return to the BTCC for a second successive season in 2019 after inking a deal to remain with Team HARD.

Thompson made the step up into the series this year having taken the VW Cup title with Tony Gilham’s team and showed flashes of pace during his debut campaign – with seventh place at Rockingham being his best result of the year.

Unfortunately, a number of issues prevented the 22-year-old from picking up more than three points scoring results, leaving Thompson with unfinished business after a campaign that he admitted had included ‘more downs than ups’.

However, with the team now embarking on an extensive winter development programme with the Volkswagen CC, Thompson has joined team-mate Mike Bushell in committing to a second season with the team with his target being to build on the progress shown in the latter stages of 2018 to regularly push for points.

“I’m obviously delighted to confirm that I will be back in the BTCC in 2019,” he said. “After sitting down with Tony Gilham and seeing the changes to the cars and the team itself I am one hundred 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 ten performances. I’m really pleased that 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 that the team and Mike [Bushell] are already doing I know that the team has a whole will be stronger too.

“Both I and my whole family strongly believe that 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 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 boss Gilham said he was delighted to be able to retain Thompson for what will be a fourth season together, with the relationship having started back in 2015 when he was named as part of Team HARD’s Young Driver programme.

“Bobby is a very special talent and one that can go to the very top,” he said. “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, 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.”