British Touring Car rookie Tony Gilham insists he isn't just there to make up the numbers this year and is determined to forge a career in the series.
The former Porsche Carrera Cup driver has stepped up to the BTCC this season, after agreeing a deal to race for Triple Eight Race Engineering, alongside James Nash. While admitting racing against veterans Jason Plato and Matt Neal will be a challenge, he is eager to make an impact.
The 31-year-old from Kent has been a regular on the Porsche Carrera Cup grid for the past four years, finishing ninth overall last season. Despite enjoying his time in the Carrera Cup, a move to the BTCC has been a long term ambition and signing for former title winners' Triple Eight marks a new chapter in his career.
Gilham understands competing in the BTCC will provide a stern test of his abilities, but is hoping to become a consistent point scorer.
Talking to TCF he said: “I'm not here to make up the numbers, I do want to compete. I know it's going to be difficult, but it would be nice to get on the Independents podium and be challenging. Triple Eight are a big team with history and that is what attracted me. It's a massive year in terms of sponsorship and I want to make a name for myself. It's a chance for me to show what I can do in a competitive car.
“Words cannot describe the size of the opportunity and the championship. I've always dreamt of doing it. It's a massive step. I've done a bit of front wheel drive but having spent the last three years in rear wheel drive it's going to be a bit of a transition. I'm under no illusions, it's going to be a steep learning curve and I'm up for the challenge.”
With speculation there could be up to 30 cars on the grid for the season opener at Brands Hatch in April, he expects a tough induction into the championship.
“A big grid is always going to make exciting racing and that is what it is all about, he said. “I think there is talk of 30 plus cars on the grid for Brands Hatch, which is a massive achievement in itself. To be involved in that is going to be something special. But to be honest the Indy circuit is not one of my favourites. It's going to be tricky but we should have quite a lot of local backing and I'm looking forward to getting going.”
Gilham hinted his iconic pink and green livery will make an appearance on his Triple Eight Vauxhall Vectra this year.