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Robb Holland: ‘I’m not here to make up the numbers’

British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) returnee Robb Holland says that he is not returning to the series “just to make up the numbers”, as the American steps in at Handy Motorsport for the next three meetings.

Replacing Simon Belcher in the team’s Toyota Avensis, Holland will compete at Snetterton, Knockhill and Rockingham, before Belcher steps back into the car for the final two meetings of the season.

Holland returns to the championship at Snetterton for the first time since Silverstone in 2014, after which the American stepped down from driving as he handed over to Tony Gilham for the season finale. Having now competed in select races over four season in the BTCC, Holland claims that his ambition is still to come back to the series for a full-time crack of the whip.

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“The plan is to come back full-time, but to do that you need to make sure you’re driving the car all the time,” said Holland to TouringCars.Net. “You can’t just not drive the car.

“The BTCC for me has always been the top touring car series. If you look at the talent that’s here it’s hard to argue that’s not the case. I’ve sat around with the WTCC guys in the house, watching BTCC, and everyone respects this series. Sure the World Championship is great, but I think the racing here in the BTCC is better than almost everywhere else.”

Although it marks Holland’s first foray into touring car racing in 2015, the 47-year-old explained that he had been in discussions to drive for LADA earlier in the season as the Russian marque evaluated its driver options in the WTCC.

“We were looking to do the WTCC race at the Nürburgring, but it didn’t work out and they brought in Jaap van Lagen,” explained Holland. “Jaap is obviously a quick guy around there, so there’s no arguments there.

“We’re still looking at TCR – it’s on my radar – and it would be great to do Macau. One of my good friends and co-drivers Kevin Gleason has done very well there, so I think we could go there and also do well.

“But for me the home of touring cars has always been the BTCC – it’s what I’ve always loved. It’s very difficult to start jumping into new series, as I’ve proven it here. I’ve done well in other series, but I come here and it’s like starting all over again. I don’t want to throw away everything in this series to just go and chase glory around the world.

“Right now my focus is on BTCC. I never wanted to leave – so it wasn’t really hard to get me to come back. Simon had to step out of the car, so he wanted a driver in that could help move the car forward, and I think we’re in the process of accomplishing that.

“There’s always discussions [about returning full-time]. I’m always looking to try to get back in the series, so it’s just a matter of finding the right car and the right opportunity. I’m not here just to make up the numbers – I want to be competitive and move up through the field.”

Belcher explained that having Holland in the car was giving him a useful different perspective on running a touring car team, with the businessman hoping to expand his operation in the coming seasons.

“We’re working on something quite exciting for the future,” said Belcher to TouringCars.Net. “We would like to expand from one car to two, we’ve never hidden that fact. Whether that will happen for 2016 or 2017 depends on all the commercial stuff going on in the background.

“It’s the right thing for the team for me to step out for a few races. I know I’m coming back for Silverstone and Brands Hatch and hopefully we’ll have a better car by then. It’s good to have Robb back, he’s a bit of a character in the championship and it gives it a bit of an international flair.”

Belcher wouldn’t be drawn on the team’s car plans for next season, but revealed that the car would be built to the latest NGTC specifications.

“We’re imminently about to start building a new car. The new car will be with the full RML spec, so it will be to the new spec of NGTC car which sees us through the next five years. We’ll still have this car, which is to the current spec and is one of the early shells which GPRM built.

“We’ve run about 20 kg overweight and there’s nothing we can do – there’s no more weight we can get out of this car. If we run a new Toyota or if we run something else the new shell will be well below the minimum weight which means we can then start ballasting where we want to do it.

“Long term I want to stay driving as long as I can. However there may become a point where I’m happy to step back into a team manager role. If we bring in another driver for next year as a second driver we will look to bring in a decent driver.

“I would be looking for somebody that is capable of winning touring car races week in, week out. That’s the kind of statement that we want to make when we make a step forward.”

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