Following the news that Kieran Gallagher will be the latest driver to grace the British Touring Car Championship grid later this month, we find out how the Scottish Legends racer himself feels about his eagerly-awaited debut with Team HARD at Knockhill.
Gallagher had his first run in the Vauxhall Insignia at Brands Hatch for Tony Gilham‘s squad, and the Scotsman tells thecheckeredflag.co.uk that he is ‘estatic’ ahead of his BTCC debut at his home circuit on August 24-25.
Well first of all, congratulations on the news that you will have a BTCC drive for Knockhill, how did this deal with Tony Gilham come about?
“The deal with Tony came about when he asked me if I wanted to do it. No-one in their right mind will ever say no. Next minute I had agreed to it, only then to realise I was meant to be on holiday with my girlfriend Shona.
“Not impressed is an understatement. She is understanding though and realises this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!”
Tell us a little bit about your racing history so far…
“So far I have raced in half of last years legends series debuting at Oulton in May. Consistently racing at Knockhill throughout the rest of that year. Signed up for a full year this season, only to do the reverse direction and smash the previous record. I now have the record there at 60.4s.
Then I did the Spa Francorchamps race in the VW Cup and went from 24th to 11th over the weekend. Here I am signing up for the Brands Hatch round and get roped in to BTCC!”
How excited are you for your debut and what does it mean for you to be a part of the BTCC?
“I am ecstatic about racing in BTCC, it has been a dream of mine since I was a small kid. Last year’s high for me was being handed a trophy by [Gordon] Shedden, now I am on the grid with the likes of Flash (Shedden), [Jason] Plato, [Tom] Onslow-Cole etc. so it’s a big deal for me.”
How was your first experience in the Vauxhall Insignia during your [Wednesday] test?
“At first I thought to myself, this could take a lot of getting used to. Progressively that thought disintegrated in my head and I pushed on – turning in quicker, power down earlier, dropping the times each lap on old race tyres.”
You have plenty of Knockhill experience, so realistically, what are your goals for your BTCC debut at the track?
“Realistically I want a top-18 finish. Whether I get that or not is a different story; with the times I got today, with tyres that had done over 60 laps before I even got my hands on them. I would have been 18th out of 27 at this year’s Brands Hatch round according to qualifying times.”
Is the BTCC a place that you would like to create a further racing career in?
“It’s all about sponsorship, and I’m in no way able to make a full season out BTCC as of yet. In years to come maybe or if someone sees progressive talent in me and is willing to sponsor me then I’d jump at the chance.”