An American may have been in his usual driving seat but Tony Gilham feels his own foreign experience at Snetterton will benefit his team in the long-term.

The Team-HARD. boss teamed up with Thorney Motorsport to drive their Vauxhall Insignia for the weekend, while Robb Holland filled the Honda Civic hotseat.

It allowed John Thorne’s team to get their car out and running again in a competitive environment but also served as a useful test for Gilham’s own engineers, who teamed up with their Thorney counterparts to run the Dartford racer.

And Gilham believes it was a successful outing for the Insignia, which hasn’t been seen since Donington Park, the second round of the championship.

“The pace is getting quicker,” he told, “and as we’re getting quicker we’re mixing with more aggressive drivers. With mixing more at the front there’s more at stake.

“We damaged the car in race two and though we made a few modifications for race three we would like to do more to allow us to be more aggressive. We’ve proven the car is capable – it’s strong when it’s on its own, and it can do top ten times. This weekend was a full test race weekend just to show how capable it is.”

Gilham will not be out at Knockhill, but said the experience helped the team learn more about the NGTC cars as his outfit prepare to begin their own in-house, two-car NGTC production.

“We’ve got a better understanding of the engine, the handling characteristics, how the car reacts on entry to a corner and on the exit – the whole package,” he said. “It was a full test for us in a real competitive situation.

“If you’re on your own you can learn about the car but you cannot fine-tune it unless you’re in racing conditions. It’s made me excited to see what our boys can do now.”