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Team HARD confirms BTCC and British GT plans for 2016

Wednesday, January 27 2016

Kent-based Team HARD has announced that it will contest both the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and the British GT Championship this season. Both campaigns will kick off at the outfit's local circuit, Brands Hatch this spring.

Team HARD returned to the BTCC last year after its previous incarnation in the category was taken over by Team BMR in 2013. The squad will continue to field a Toyota Avensis and has signed former MINI Challenge champion Chris Smiley following a dominant one-off VAG Trophy outing in a Team HARD-run car last year.

Team HARD boss Tony Gilham is sure that he has a star of the future in Smiley: "Everyone who has come into contact with him knows he is a talent," he said. "We are convinced he is more than ready to make his debut. The BTCC is ultra-competitive, but with Chris behind the wheel and the raft of updates we have brought to the Avensis in recent months, there is no reason at all why we can't finish regularly inside the points this year. That has to be our target."

Smiley, who has previously tested the BTCC MG6, said: "The BTCC has been a dream of mine for many years, right back to when I was in karting. It will be exciting to renew battle with some of my former rivals like Jack Goff and Tom Ingram - just like the old days!"

Team HARD has also confirmed that it has purchased a brace of Ginetta G55s to run in the GT4 class of the British GT Championship. The squad regularly competes in the supporting VW Racing Cup and Gilham admits to having big ambitions for his new sportscar project.

"GT3 remains the ultimate ambition but we're not taking the series lightly and see GT4 as a logical and necessary step towards it," Gilham said. "We have every intention of hitting the ground running and have invested heavily as a result. We'll hopefully be announcing our drivers in the coming weeks but I can tell you that we have some very rapid guys with the necessary experience to shake up the established order.

"We see British GT and BTCC as the two highest echelons of UK motorsport, so adding the former was essential for completing our talent ladder."

Tickets are available for 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at Brands Hatch Indy on 2/3 April, Oulton Park on 4/5 June, Snetterton on 30/31 July and Brands Hatch Grand Prix on 1/2 October. The 2016 British GT Championship visits Brands Hatch on 16/17 April, Oulton Park on 28/30 May and Snetterton on 6/7 August. Entry for all events is free for under-13s. For more information click on the links.