Ollie Brown will make his BTCC debut in the 2020 season for Team HARD Racing as a replacement for Mike Bushell from this weekend’s opener at Donington Park.
Brown has only recently got his racing licence to be involved in the Championship and won the yearly scholarship with Team HARD and RCIB Insurance having never raced competitively before. As a fan of the championship, he cannot wait for the opportunity.
“To say I’m overwhelmed with joy is an understatement,” said Brown. “I have been watching the BTCC as a fan for the last 20 years, whilst working with some past and current drivers as a driver coach, and I’m buzzing to join them on the track this year.
“This opportunity would never have been possible without my best friend of 25 years entering me into the RCIB Insurance Racing scholarship last year; a shot in the dark has become one of the best moments of my life!
“I cannot wait to get started. Naturally, I’m gutted for Mike (Bushell) and Howard (Fuller) and I wish them all the best.
“I would like to thank Tony and the team for having faith in me for this season and will be going out there to give as good as I get. Bring on Donington!”
Bushell was initially ruled out at least for the first few rounds due to a bout of Myocarditis with Howard Fuller set to step into the seat temporarily if he could recover but this time financial implications of the pandemic have left him unable to take up his seat with Fuller also missing out.
Understandably, he was gutted but wished Brown success and thanked Team HARD Racing Managing Director Tony Gilham for waiting as long as possible before having to make the decision.
“I’m gutted to have been dealt two blows this year, firstly ill health followed by the economic implications of COVID further delaying the start of my season,” said Bushell. “It really feels that with these two unforeseeable situations that it just wasn’t to be for me in 2020.
“I must say thanks to Tony (Gilham) and the team for getting me out in the car at the recent tyre test and also delaying this decision for as long as realistically possible to see how things unfolded on my side.
“I’d like to wish Ollie good luck for the season ahead, he seems a very talented and capable driver and I’m sure he will be right in the mix throughout the season. For me, it’s time to focus on my family and business as we start to recover from lockdown.”
Gilham believes though that with Brown, he has a dark horse who he believes will show his worth throughout the season and show he is deserving of this seat despite a lack of experience.
“This is a bittersweet announcement for me,” said Gilham. “I’m gutted for Mike and Howard who have been fantastic for the team for a number of years now.
“On the other hand, Ollie is a fantastic replacement to drive the RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport car this season and I’m proud that my team have been able to source a replacement and not just withdraw the car. Ollie was among a very competitive scholarship programme in January – he stood top of the pile and was magnificent throughout.
“I have full confidence that nobody will be doubting our faith in Ollie by the end of the season. Within the industry, he is well known and has the potential to mix it with the best in the business.
“To get to this point, Ollie has taken multiple wins and podiums over the last month as he has worked to get the required license to race in the BTCC against some very respectable opposition. He is a real dark horse for this season and certainly one to watch”