Team-HARD.’s eager new signing Howard Fuller is not daunted by the prospect of racing wheel-to-wheel with “some of the best saloon car drivers around at the moment”.
The 20-year-old will test Tony Gilham’s S2000 Honda Civic at Brands Hatch tomorrow (Friday) ahead of his Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship debut the following weekend at Rockingham.
And the youngster, who tasted victory at the track with the Dartford outfit in the VW Cup earlier this year, is looking forward to whatever challenges lie ahead.
“I’m very excited,” he told theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. “It’s a big opportunity for us – two or three months ago I didn’t think I’d be back in the car for a long time.
“When Tony first asked me I was a bit nervous about the whole thing – you’re up against the best saloon car drivers in the UK – but at the end of the day it’s just another driver you want to be in front of. I’ve got a lot of respect for them but I want to prove myself.”
With team manager Gilham stepping aside to concentrate on the plans for 2013, and Snetterton and Knockhill stand-in Robb Holland on World Touring Car Championship duty, Fuller’s opportunity presented itself much sooner than he had anticipated.
“We’ve spoken about it before when we were in the VW Cup but it just sort of sorted itself out when Robb [Holland] couldn’t do it,” he explained. “I had to pretend not to be too excited! I just assumed it was some sort of winter test to sort something out for next year, but it was a nice surprise to know I’ll be doing a whole weekend.”
Despite the fast-forwarded progression, the Kingston-upon-Thames racer, a popular man within the team, does not intent to simply make up the numbers – a sentiment echoed by his new boss.
“I think it’s important to set realistic goals throughout the weekend,” Fuller said. “For me that motivates myself and gives me something to go for.
“It’s difficult to say as I haven’t driven the car but I want to be competitive and if I can keep some of the big names behind me that’ll be the goal really.”
“It’ll be a learning curve but I think he’s going to surprise quite a few,” adds Gilham. “The car’s quick and he’s quick – and he’s already won there. He knows the track and it suits him.”
For now, Fuller’s attention is on dealing with challenges that come with such a big step up – starting with the test, and making the most of the seat time available.
“I think probably the communication with the team when I’m driving is something I’ll have to get to used to – that’s just a challenge I’m looking forward to dealing with,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting out in the car tomorrow and making the most of it. I’ll just try and stay in the car as much as possible!”