Howard Fuller will make his return to the British Touring Car Championship albeit only for the short term with Team HARD. Racing.
Fuller will replace Mike Bushell who is currently recovering from Myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle and will take his spot for at least the first three rounds of the championship.
While Bushell is understandably not happy to postpone the start of the season, he admitted that his health comes before anything else and that he is looking forward to racing again when he is back to being 100 percent.
“I’m extremely frustrated to have yet another hurdle put in front of me in my pursuit of success in the BTCC,” said Bushell.
“I had a good feeling about the development of the Volkswagen CC for 2020 and was excited to get behind the wheel. I’ve been in close contact with the team with the winter upgrades and was keen to start from where we left off in 2018.
“Unfortunately, there is still some damage and residual inflammation of my heart after falling ill at the start of February. It means that I am unable to hold a race licence, but more importantly I’m not physically able to race at the moment and I have to put my health first.
“I will have to postpone my return the BTCC grid once again and focus on getting back to full health. I wish the team and Howard all the best for the start of the season.”
Fuller previously raced in the championship in 2012 and 2013 at both Rockingham and Silverstone scoring multiple points finishes and for Team HARD. Racing.
Tony Gilham, Managing Director is looking forward to having Fuller back in the fold and that he is hoping for potentially even more than from his first stint whilst also keeping sight of Bushell’s recovery.
“Howard has been an integral part of the team for a number of years now and even when he wasn’t racing with us, we have remained in close contact and tried many times to get him back on track,” said Gilham.
“Our journey together began back in 2012 and led to his BTCC debut. Being totally honest with myself, whilst Howard was ready as a driver, we weren’t ready as a team at the top level at that point. Howard is an amazing talent and up until now there has always been something lacking with us as a team which hasn’t allowed us to extract everything from his potential. However, 2020 will finally see what we can achieve together now that we are both more than prepared and ready to take this challenge on.”
“We believe Howard has the potential to go to the very top and we all appreciate that it is very important to build a career on solid foundations. So, the decision was made to hit the reset button and essentially relaunch Howard as we look to take him back up the racing ladder. Howard brings a wealth of experience and will be a great ambassador for us both on and off track so we are very much looking forward to what we can achieve this season,” he added.
While for Fuller, it is a return he has waited for since his last stint in a team he calls family and that despite knowing he won’t be at his best immediately, he knows he still has the performance in his locker.
“I’ve waited 7 years for the phone call… our first outing in the championship was way back in 2012 with Team HARD in the iconic green and pink Honda Civic. The team has grown and developed so much since then. I am grateful for every opportunity that’s come my way along this journey. Team HARD. means more than just a race team to me, its family and to represent the team in the BTCC is such an unbelievable feeling. Just want to get this season started!
“I’m motivated by winning, and that’s the goal, of course. My job is simple, drive the team forward as much as possible and extract as much performance as possible on and off the track. I’ve got a world class professional team behind me, and strong, fast teammates alongside me. I’m keen to work together, learn and push forward.
“There is no doubt things will be a bit rusty after such a break, but I’m physically and mentally prepared for the challenge. The speed will come organically. I know that I can bring about successful results with the team’s support and their confidence in me.
“Obviously, the circumstances are unfortunate with Mike not being able to race, a real character of the paddock and definitely one of the fastest on the grid. He will absolutely be missed and I wish him a speedy recovery.”
Fuller will now form a two-car pairing for the opening rounds with Jack Goff, with Nic Hamilton and Carl Boardley also part of the team under different banners. He will make his return at Donington Park on March 27/28.