Dan Welch says he was called in to Team HARD to help the outfit ‘make a difference’ with their Volkswagen CC, after the team notched up just six top ten finishes in the first half of the British Touring Car Championship season.
Welch replaces Jake Hill in the Kent-based team from Snetterton onwards, with the 36-year-old being tasked with using his extensive racing knowledge to improve the set-up on all four cars and help his team-mates to move further up the grid.
Welch last raced in the BTCC in 2016, and although he says he is looking for a way back onto the grid full-time in 2019, he admits that for now his focus is purely on helping out Tony Gilham’s outfit.
“An opportunity came up with Tony – we’re always in contact and we’ve always been helping each other out in the past – and the opportunity came up to jump in the car,” said Welch to TouringCars.Net.
“The team felt a little bit lost on why their car has not been quick enough at the start of the year. The Passat has so much potential in it, and it’s obviously been a quick car in the past and not much has changed, so my reason for coming in is to just try and make a difference with the car.
“I’m a bit rusty myself – I’ve been out of the car for a year and a half – so I’ve got a bit to catch up on. I think we’re already making strides in the right direction, so we’ll see how we go.”
Whilst Welch admits that he needed a break from the BTCC at the end of 2016, he says he is now ready to return and is looking at his full-time options for 2019.
“We’ve been looking for a way back in from the start of this season. We were looking to do it [in 2018], but it was a bit too soon at the start of the year.
“We did BTCC for five years and it is a tough, tough championship both mentally, financially and everything.
“We needed a break from it, so we’ve come away and we’re now looking for a way to get back in. I certainly want to be back in full-time for next year.
“You can see how much the grid has changed in the summer break. After the season there is five months of negotiating. Plenty of drives have become available on the grid, it’s just a case of what package you can get with the right team.”
Welch, who has to carry 45 kg of late entry ballast, ended first practice with the 20th fastest time, but dropped to 30th in the dry second practice session.