Portuguese driver Jorge Calado is hoping the VW Cup will open doors for him to make British Touring Car Championship history.
Calado recently signed to drive a MK5 Golf GTI in the British GT/F3 support series for Team-HARD., the Tony Gilham-run outfit which has expanded significantly in the past 12 months.
Gilham, whose racing roots lie in the championship, will run four NGTC cars in the BTCC next season and several more in the VW Cup – with the intention of using is as a stepping stone for aspiring tin top racers.
Lisbon-born Calado, 25, is hoping he can make the most of the in-house graduation set-up at the Kent team to become to the first Portuguese driver to race in the BTCC.
“When the opportunity came up, the decision was one of the easiest I’ve ever had to make,” he told theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. “When I moved over to the UK after turning 18, my main goal was to be the first Portuguese driver to enter the BTCC. Nothing has changed since then, I’m as determined as ever”
“If I ever had an opportunity to get my foot in the door, this is it. I’m not going to waste it.”
Calado will race in 2013 on behalf of the Air Ambulance Service and the Speed of Sight charities, with whom he worked with last year. Running an established team means he is eager to make the most of his opportunity.
“I want to prove myself in front of Tony and the team but I guess even more importantly in front of the other drivers and teams,” he says. “I have done some club racing in the past but this is really my first chance to make a mark as the VW Cup is the highest level of tin-top club racing before the big step into national racing. My aim is to smash it basically!”
A friend of Team-HARD.’s VW Cup-turned-touring car racer Howard Fuller, he says the team’s attitude makes the partnership perfect.
“Once I went down there to meet them my decision was kind of made for me,” he explained. “I already knew Howard and some of the other drivers, and got to meet the staff and I think the whole thing just clicked.
“They’re just an awesome bunch with a literal go hard or go home attitude.”
Watch Calado and Team-HARD.’s introductory video below: