Debutant Ollie Brown to replace Mike Bushell at Team HARD

Ollie Brown will make his debut in the BTCC this season after being called up by Team HARD as a replacement for Mike Bushell.

Bushell had hoped that the delays to the calendar caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would provide time for him to recover from the bout of Myocarditis that looked set to sideline him for the opening rounds of the year – with Howard Fuller having been set to replace him for the start of the campaign.

However, economic issues that have arisen as a result of coronavirus means Bushell will now be unable to take up his drive with the team, with Fuller also missing out.

As a result, Brown – winner of the most recent Team HARD scholarship – has instead been given the chance to make a quick graduation into the BTCC and will debut at Donington Park this weekend.

“I’m gutted to have been dealt two blows this year, firstly ill health followed by the economic implications of COVID further delaying the start of my season,” Bushell said. “It really feels that with these two unforeseeable situations that it just wasn’t to be for me in 2020.

“I must say thanks to Tony [Gilham] and the team for getting me out in the car at the recent tyre test and also delaying this decision for as long as realistically possible to see how things unfolded on my side.

“I’d like to wish Ollie good luck for the season ahead, he seems a very talented and capable driver and I’m sure he will be right in the mix throughout the season. For me, it’s time to focus on my family and business as we start to recover from lockdown.”

Replacement Brown admitted that the unexpected chance to move into touring cars was a dream come true.

“To say I’m overwhelmed with joy is an understatement,” said Brown. “I have been watching the BTCC as a fan for the last 20 years, whilst working with some past and current drivers as a driver coach, and I’m buzzing to join them on the track this year.

“This opportunity would never have been possible without my best friend of 25 years entering me into the RCIB Insurance Racing scholarship last year; a shot in the dark has become one of the best moments of my life! I cannot wait to get started. Naturally, I’m gutted for Mike and Howard and I wish them all the best.

“I would like to thank Tony and the team for having faith in me for this season and will be going out there to give as good as I get. Bring on Donington!”