As the VW Racing Cup rolled up for its second round of the year at Rockingham two weeks ago, the field also welcomed the return of the Volkswagen Passatt, last appearing in the 2016 season finale at the hands of Kenan Dole, during a one-off drive.
The car has a full-time driver now though, with Norfolk-based Nick Moore at the wheel. Moore has been an ever-present name in testing circles, especially around the Ginetta paddock, but the 23-year-old is now looking for a new challenge with Team HARD.
With a connection to Tony Gilham and his home round at Snetterton at the end of May, life is on the up for Moore, who experienced a tough start in Rockingham with his car only prepared the day before testing began.
The Checkered Flag caught up with him to discuss his plans, aims and why the VW Cup over Ginetta.
“Rockingham really was a shake down for us. The car was completed on the Thursday, we drove it for the first time on Friday, so it was an impressive turn around from the guys,” Moore started.
In a series filled with Golf‘s, Scirocco‘s and Polo‘s, the Passatt, with its larger than life body frame, makes Moore stand out from the crowd, in more ways than one.
“It’s the only car of its kind in the world, as Team HARD own the rights to the roll cage design. It’s different to the Golf, which is his preferred choice in the championship, but the Passatt is a whole different beast.”
“As well as the car being great and a little different, the opportunity provided links to the BTCC and that’s why I wanted to get on board with it. I want to get it to a point this year where we can be at the front and moving forward next year.”
Moore talked about his reasons for connecting with Tony Gilham, with the British Touring Car Championship being an immediate aim for the new Team HARD racer. The Passatt seeming to be a perfect preparation for the Volkswagen CC cars that RCIB Insurance Racing use, while remaining competitive in the series he’s currently in.
“That’s why Team HARD are a fantastic opportunity, because the progression ladder is there to move into British GT or BTCC. For me, all of it at this stage is learning and the guys have a ladder that I can use to go and achieve my goal.
“Ultimately, I’d love to race at Le Mans.”
First though, Moore has to prove his worth in the VW Cup, with his tenure getting off to a rocky start around the Corby-based circuit.
“We were very rushed, with the car not being finished until the night before. Also during the three twenty-minute sessions we got on Friday, I was only able to do nine laps in total. It wasn’t the best to be fair.”
Clutch issues would eventually hamper his entire weekend, scoring just four points. The potential pace of the car could be more promising, though Moore will now not be subject to the drop points rule.
“It’s a fun project, especially because of the BTCC as well, so it’s turning heads and that helps us get more potential backers. So when I get use to the car, we can move up the order a lot quicker and challenging and scoring more points on a weekend.”
While the 24 Hours of Le Mans seems like a lifetime away, Moore remained optimistic, even if he was more than realistic about the money he’d need for such an adventure.
“The other side of it, is of course the funding. I’ve been really lucky with Client Server Technology Recruitment who are my employer as well as my main backer for this year, as well as MCK Associates, who are based up in Preston, who are backing me up this year. It’ll be difficult to go to Le Mans with just those guys,” he laughed.
“Just getting me out this year with the VW Cup is spot on and I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”
Initially though, Moore hadn’t planned to start the year with Team HARD, nor the VW Cup. Instead, he was sorting out deals to finally enter the Ginetta GT5 Challenge.
“Ginetta have been one of my main supporters of me since I was 18. I had a full season’s budget a few years back to race in the GT5 Challenge with Academy Motorsports (who now race in British GT) with a friend of mine, Sean Huyton, who is an ex champion.
“I was also lined up to do this year with Century Motorsport, but the opportunity to race with Tony Gilham with Team HARD was a much more cost-effective opportunity, while still racing on the same package.
“It was a case of putting all my history with Ginetta to one side and doing something where I can get a lot more seat time and get on the ladder to where I want to be, with an awesome team run by Tony.”
Ultimately, Moore’s sponsors were happy with the move and he relishes a new challenge with the same links to British GT and BTCC. He does though, have the unique opportunity to compare the two rival series.
“It’s a lot lighter for a start,” he said about the Ginetta G40, “The Ginetta’s are great fun, rear wheel drive, 1.8L Ford Zetec, it’s a really fun car. But the Passat is a different beast. 2.0L Turbo proper body kit and much larger wing on the back, also you’re driving on Hankook which feel a lot different.
“It’s heavier though, a lot harder to slow down and takes a little bit longer to speed up, the two are very different.”
Outside of traditional racing series, he’s also competed at the Snetterton 24 Hour race twice, finishing fifth out of forty runners in 2013.
“When it comes to the 24 Hours, it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car… if you can call the Citroen 2CV a race car! It’s a lawn mower that thing.
“When it’s hammering it down at two in the morning and you’re going sideways round turn one and you’re nose to tail for 24 hours, you learn quite a bit in the conditions. Those races though are on the 200 circuit, so you’re missing out the windy bit that came in during 2010.”
While Moore has since raced at the 300 circuit on multiple occasions, May will be his debut with the Passatt.
“The circuit itself is very fast with long straights, it suits the Passat pretty well, so hopefully we can make an impact from the first practice.”
Moore admitted he wouldn’t be an immediate front-runner, making 2017 a learning year for the Norwich-based driver, while drumming up support for next season.
Going into the Snetterton weekend, he was happy to simply aim to score points.
“I want to be conservative and say top fifteen to be honest with you. We’ll have a test on that race weekend and on the Friday, so once we know all the gremlins have gone, we can start to push.”
“Snetterton will be a big one for me, with it being my home weekend. We should be able to iron the time down and with the long straights, it’ll play into my favour as well.”