TradePriceCars.com has been forced to field an all-changed driver line-up for the British Touring Car Championship races at Snetterton this weekend, as Ethan Hammerton deputises for Bobby Thompson.
Following his multiple roll-over last time out at Croft, Thompson has been ruled out of the penultimate event of the season due to the concussion he suffered in the accident.
The car has recently been repaired by Willie Poole Motorsport and the team’s technical partner AmD Tuning, meaning it is ready for this weekend’s races just two weeks after the shunt.
As a result, former Renault Cilo Cup racer and current MINI Challenge UK driver Hammerton will take over behind the wheel of Thompson’s Audi S3 for the Snetterton event.
It means the team is fielding an all-changed driver line-up, after James Gornall stepped down from driving just before the Croft event, where only one car was run as a result.
Seasoned Clio Cup racer Paul Rivett will take over the driving duties from Gornall in the other Audi.
Thompson, who holds a 27-point lead in the Jack Sears Trophy, admitted that it was a disappointment not to make the grid for the Snetterton races.
“It’s really frustrating to not be able to race this weekend, particularly when Croft had been going so well,” said Thompson. “Scoring my best ever qualifying result and then taking two top eight finishes meant it was my best weekend in the BTCC, but that got overshadowed by the incident in race three.
“As a driver, you always want to go out there and race and I was desperate to try and reward the team for all the work that has gone in to repairing the car, but this time, I’ve got to listen to what the experts are saying and sit things out.
“Obviously that isn’t ideal for me in terms of the Jack Sears Trophy but the key thing is that I have points on the board and the guys who are chasing me don’t, so it’s still all to play for.
“Hopefully Paul and Ethan can take some points off my rivals and my focus is on making sure I’m fully fit to come out and fight for the title when we get to Brands Hatch.”
For Hammerton, the opportunity marks a return to the BTCC grid for the first time since the last two events in 2018, when he raced a Volkswagen CC for Team HARD to a best finish of 20th at Silverstone.
After a shunt in the MINI Challenge at Silverstone, Hammerton admitted it was a surprise to be able to still race, albeit in a different series, this weekend.
“I didn’t expect to be racing this weekend because of the damage to my MINI,” said Hammerton. “So it was a nice surprise to get the call asking if I would be available to stand in for Bobby – particularly when both GKR and Trade Price Cars were involved when I made my touring car debut.
“I’m really excited to be given an unexpected opportunity to return to the BTCC, but I have to be realistic about my chances as I haven’t done any testing and the first time I’ll drive the Audi will be in practice on Saturday morning.
“My aim is to improve my times in each session as I get used to the car, and hopefully we can move forwards in the three races – especially the final two when I don’t have to run the extra weight that comes with being a new driver.”
Both drivers will have to carry an additional 45 kg of ballast into the race weekend and opening race as new entries to the championship.