Team HARD will join forces with Laser Tools Racing for the 2020 British Touring Car Championship, running three Infiniti Q50 cars alongside its four new-build CUPRA Leons.
The move will see reigning BTCC champion Ash Sutton run by Team HARD in 2021, as the two outfits look to share resources and assist each other both on and off the track.
Laser Tools Racing are also building a third new Infiniti, with Team HARD regular Carl Boardley joining the line-up to campaign the car alongside Sutton and Aiden Moffat next year.
Team HARD will acquire the championship-winning Infinitis of BMR Engineering and Aiden Moffat Racing as part of the deal, whilst working under the Laser Tools Racing banner.
“Ash and Aiden are a formidable pairing and so to be able to keep these guys together is vital to the commercial side of the operation,” said Team HARD managing Director Tony Gilham. “Following the successes of 2020, it is a very solid platform on which to build on.
“Both these guys are amazing young talents and a big part of the future of the BTCC. So to have them working with us is a very proud moment for us.
“This is an essential part of the package as we at Team HARD aspire to keep developing and improving as a team and there is no better way to learn than working with the best in the business.
“Working alongside the guys from Laser Tools Racing will help us move closer to our end goal and with the addition of many new faces to our side of the line-up, we feel we are in the best shape possible to compete at the front as soon as the new season starts.
“Ash Sutton was the star of the show last year and produced some memorable displays of both outright pace and amazing race craft.
“Some of the moves he made were nothing short of world class — to come away with the overall title was nothing less than he deserved and even more impressive that he delivered the championship in a brand-new car.
“A long term friendship and working relationship with Laser Tools Racing Team Principal Bob Moffat has developed over the last few years and the time is now right to build something very special together as we head towards the new hybrid era.
“We have often talked about how we could team up and now we have taken the step to do just that.”
Laser Tools Racing Team Principal Bob Moffat believes that the new partnership can take the team up another level again in 2021.
“Having worked commercially with both BMR and Tony Gilham at Team HARD for a number of years, and with our team’s amazing success in 2020, I feel that now is the time to elevate Laser Tools Racing to another level,” said Moffat.
“With Tony Gilham’s experience and energy, and Team HARD’s reputation for providing first class corporate hospitality, track day experiences and motorsport corporate entertainment we are now in a very good position to offer both team sponsors and fans a world class experience in Britain’s most prestigious motor sport series.”
For Sutton, the two-time champion is looking forward to the new partnership as he remains in rear-wheel drive machinery for a fifth straight season.
“2020 was a year to remember,” said Sutton. “A new car, a new team and three championships at the end of it.
“Breaking up that championship winning package wouldn’t have been a wise move, so to be flying the flag for Laser Tools Racing again in 2021 is absolutely mega.
“To continue working alongside Aiden again for next year means we can pick-up where we left off, but with the added bonus of getting stuck into a testing programme over the winter.
“It’s great to have the addition of Carl Boardley and Team Hard with us for the up and coming season. To have a third Infiniti on the grid will benefit in many ways, speeding up the development with the car, conditions and direction of setup changes throughout a weekend.”
Aiden Moffat lacked the pace of team-mate Sutton in 2020, ending the season in 15th after missing out on a podium finish, but the Scot is optimistic for his second season in the rear-wheel drive Q50.
“2020 was certainly a year to remember,” said Moffat. “Ash delivered the championship for the team and I really started getting the feel of the car in the latter rounds, developing more confidence with every race.
“I’m looking forward to continuing improvements through 2021 and working with our new team.”
For Boardley, the switch to the saloon-shaped Infiniti after a year in a BMW 1 Series offers him the chance to put a frustrating year behind him, in which he picked up a best finish of just 12th.
“For me, to continue in the championship required a clear vision and a path in which to enable me to challenge with the front runners, especially after a somewhat frustrating season in the 1 series,” added Boardley.
“With time and weather constraints limiting the testing pre-season and then the enforced COVID sabbatical, 2020 for us was almost ‘testing’ at the race weekends.
“Getting my hands on an Infiniti Q50 at this early stage provides us with a solid platform to prepare everything off track so we can hit the ground running when it all kicks off.”
Team HARD will continue to build and develop four new CUPRA Leon cars for next year, in addition to running the three Infinitis in conjunction with Laser Tools Racing.