He'll be the first American to race in the series for 37 years when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returns from its summer break at Snetterton next month, but Robb Holland intends to be much more than an overseas poster boy for a series he's long admired.
The 44 year-old from Colorado admits there are plenty of challenges as he prepares for the first of two planned races in a Tony Gilham Racing Honda Civic S2000, but has set himself high expectations.
Speaking to theCheckeredFlag.co.uk, he said: “I always go into every race I entered with the expectation of winning. However with my inexperience in the series and with the competitive disadvantage of the S2000 chassis I think a spot in the top 10 is a realistic goal to set.
“I’d like to be battling with some of the other front running S2000 cars like [Mat] Jackson, [Rob] Collard, and [Dave] Newsham. Obviously I’d like to improve race to race so hopefully we can get a little bit stronger at Knockhill.”
“We’ll see how the first two rounds go and there is a potential that I’ll be in the car for the remainder of the season if Tony will let me. He’s having a hard time seeing another driver in his car though. The main goal for this season is to learn as much as possible with the intent on returning next year to run a full season in an NGTC car and compete for podiums and hopefully wins.”
The SCCA World Challenge racer tested at the Norfolk track earlier this month, and was pleased with his pace despite a bit of Friday 13 bad luck stopped them making the sort of progress they wanted.
“I just was unlucky in the sense that the rain that you guys have had for the past several months was stuck around for the test,” says Holland. “We didn’t get in as much running as I would’ve hoped as there was a lot of standing water on the track early and it took the workers a while to get everything cleaned up.
“But once we got on track I felt really comfortable in the car straightaway and was able to set some competitive lap times albeit on a fairly damp track. Unfortunately with those conditions I didn’t learn as much about the car as I would’ve hoped.”
Holland is an experienced hand in the States but was left at a turning point when Volvo pulled their Touring Car program at the end of last year. But the British Touring Car Championship was far from a last resort for the American. In fact, it was quite the opposite, as this gave him the perfect chance to work out a move to British shores – and possibly pave the way for some of his countrymen to follow.
“I really was looking around for another opportunity and thought that it was now or never in terms of coming over to race in the BTCC,” he says. “Honda Performance Development, Oakley, and Optima Batteries jumped on board right away to support me in this effort and that allowed everything to just fall into place.”
“I’ve always had the highest respect for the BTCC. I think it is the top touring car series in the world right now and has such a great reputation that I think that any Touring Car driver worth his salt wants to be here.
“I know there are many other drivers over in the US that are anxiously watching to see how it goes for me in the series and if all goes well I think you could see several more American drivers showing up in the near future.”