Photo: Renaultsport

Mike Bushell switches to Clio Cup UK to open up Team HARD slot

Mike Bushell is to make a shock return to the Renault UK Clio Cup for the 2019 season in a move that frees up a seat with Team HARD for the upcoming BTCC campaign.

Bushell was set to remain at the wheel of a Volkswagen CC for the year ahead having been the first driver confirmed by Tony Gilham’s team, but will instead revert to the supporting Clio series where he will seek to fight for a third title.

The 29-year-old will remain with Team HARD for his Clio campaign and said that sponsorship issues had left him with no option but to give up his BTCC slot.

“The plan had been a second season with Team HARD. in the British Touring Car Championship but a few sponsorship deals haven’t worked out so it’s back to the Clio Cup,” he said. “It’s similar to the move I made after my first season in the BTCC in 2015 and I’ve always said if I can’t race in touring cars then the Clio Cup is the best place for a driver to be.

“I’ve had no hesitation in making this decision – the professionalism and type of racing means that, as a driver, you stay sharp and you know the cars are equal. Plus, of course, there’s all the exposure with it being at the BTCC’s events which means huge bang for your buck.

“While of course I’d love to have been staying on the BTCC grid, this is the best alternative to remind people of how competitive I am and to write my own piece of history in one of the best race championships.”

Team boss Tony Gilham admitted he was disappointed that Bushell wouldn’t now be at the wheel of one of the VWs but backed him to be a success on his return to Clios, where he will partner Max Coates, Ethan Hammerton and Jade Edwards.

“I am gutted that Mike won’t be on the BTCC grid with us in 2019 – he’s not only proved to be a firm favourite with fans, our partners and the team; he is also one of the main reasons for our turn in form during the second half of 2018,” he said.

“However, he is very much part of the Team HARD. family so it was a ‘no-brainer’ to bring him into our Clio Cup team – particularly with his knowledge and proven track record in the category. In fact with Mike, Max, Jade and Ethan I believe our Clio Cup line-up is just about as exciting as it gets for a team in UK motor sport – we’ve no doubt whatsoever about the results they are going to deliver, plus the following they will bring should be immense.”