Ash Hand has admitted he’s ‘under no illusions’ as to the challenge he’s facing as the 18 year old prepares to make his car-racing debut in the Renault Clio Cup UK in 2013.

Hand joins the Clio Cup with an successful karting career under his belt, the 2010 Formula Kart Stars champion enjoying further joy in Kartmasters, British Super 1 and Euro Rotax in the past two seasons.

The Nuneaton-based racer has completed some initial testing over the winter as he adjusts to his new machinery.

“We started thinking seriously about moving up into cars towards the end of last year,” said Hand. “I knew I wanted to go down the touring car route – and that being the case, Clios seemed like the obvious choice. The racing is closer and more spectacular in tin-tops than in single-seaters.

“It’s a tremendous step-up and I’ve got a big learning curve ahead of me – it’s a completely new ballgame. I’m finding myself having to continuously adapt my driving style, but I know that the more comfortable I feel in the car, the more the lap times will fall.”

Hand joins the championship with reigning champions Team Pyro and is looking to make his mark on the BTCC-support series.

“Pyro has a superb record in the championship and they came highly recommended,” he added. “I’m settling in really well and I feel like we’ve already established a strong bond. Better still, there will be a lot of fast drivers in the awning, and it’s important to me to have quick team-mates to compare data and feedback with, spur me on and generally just push the whole team forward.

“I’m not treating this as a learning year as such, but equally, I’m under absolutely no illusions as to just how tough it is going to be – the calibre of drivers in the field is extremely high. We’ve got a lot of pre-season track time planned, though, and I would like to be there-or-thereabouts by the first round. I don’t think you can go into a championship like this with any other mentality.”