Tony Gilham
Team Hard

Goff’s Roller Coaster Ride

Goff’s Roller Coaster Ride

Apr 12, 2013
My Roller Coaster Ride of a BTCC Debut


After many years of watching the BTCC on TV and being involved in a support series to the championship, it was finally time for me to make my debut in the “British Touring Car Championship”, the pinnacle of British Motorsport.

This year there is a record entry list with a capacity 32 car grid and the quality of the competition is as fierce as it has been in many decades.

BTCC have said that it is “preparing for one of the biggest and most competitive seasons in its illustrious 56 year history” and when you consider there are no less than five BTCC champions present and a huge number of category champions from support races, including Ginetta, Clio Cup, Porsche Carrera Cup and British GT, it is clear to see why they think this.

This year I go into the BTCC as one of these support race Champions but, unfortunately, Me and the team didn’t manage to get in any pre-season testing before Round 1 of the championship at Brands Hatch, so we went into the weekend using it as mainly a shake down and test weekend.

Saturday – Free Practice 1

As I set off out of the pits for my first laps in a British Touring Car, the plan was a quick installation lap in order to check there were no issues and then to come back into the pits. Unfortunately there was a leak from the gearbox oil cooler and the RCIB Insurance racing team quickly got to work under the bonnet to try and solve the issue and I was sent back out onto the track. A lap later and I was back in, still suffering from the same leak which would not be resolved before the end of the session. Not the ideal way to start the weekend, but teething issues are to be expected with a brand new car.

Free Practice 2

The good news was that the leak had been fixed and the car was running well, however, Me and the team were now playing catch-up as we had to bed all three sets of race tyres in for the races on Sunday.

With 15 minutes of a 40 minute session left the plan was now to run to the end and have my first proper test at speed in the Vauxhall Insignia NGTC car.
Everyone was feeling pretty happy with the first session; times were improving every lap and we ended up a respectable p20 in our first proper session on track.


After such a good FP2 the team and I were feeling quietly confident heading into qualifying. Unfortunately on lap 2 former BTCC Champ Colin Turkington had a spin on the exit of Druids and I was totally unsighted, which led to contact between the two of us and major front end damage to my Insignia.

This was not the way we had envisioned our first BTCC Qualifying session, however the other two team members qualified without issues so the team morale wasn’t too bad.

This incident left the RCIB Insurance team with lots of work to do over Saturday night, made even more difficult by the fact they had only had approximately five hours sleep in the last three days just to get the cars onto the track in the first place.

They worked miracles through the night and the car was up and running first thing in the morning ready for Race 1.

At this point I would like to say a huge thank-you to the lads for all their efforts to get it back out for Sunday.

Sunday – Race 1

Due to the Qualifying incident so early in the session, I didn’t get a chance to complete a timed lap so ended up starting P27 at the back of the grid. I started to pick the cars off ahead of me one by one, before slotting ahead of my team mate Tom Onslow-Cole for P13 at the flag.

All things considered this was a brilliant result, what with the lack of seat time, the lack of set-up data the team had accumulated and also starting right at the back. The team were extremely happy and it helped numb the pain of the sleepless nights (for the RCIB Insurance Team) to get the car onto the grid.

Race 2

This time I was lined up right in the midfield of the grid, due to my Race 1 finishing position, and was feeling confident of a top 10 finish in the second race because of the pace the car had shown in the second half of Race 1.

Unfortunately bad luck struck again before the race got underway, with the team finding a hole in the radiator. The car had to be pushed off the grid and down the pit lane, leaving the team working on the car again, like several others in the paddock that weekend.

This was a real shame after our race 1 result, but these things happen in Motorsport.

Race 3

Again the team did a brilliant job in getting the car ready for Race 3 and with a new radiator fitted, the car once again lined up at the back of the grid.

As the lights went out I made up a few places in the opening laps, until a huge accident for Rob Austin brought out the safety car on lap 2. Thankfully Rob was unhurt and the race resumed.

Just after lap 6, My Insignia suddenly lost all power and I had to limp back to the pits to be checked over. This time the turbo pipe had come off; the team quickly re-fitted it and I was sent on my way down the pit lane to rejoin the tail of the grid.

Two laps later, the car lost all power steering and then power again, meaning another trip to the garage down the pit lane. At this point I had got out of the car, but soon rushed back when the team discovered it was just the alternator wire that had come off; wire re-fitted, they sent me out again.

The car ran faultlessly for the last 10 minutes and the pace was very strong; even on the Super Soft tyre that was actually slower than the standard Medium compound, I managed to post some competitive and consistent lap times. The flagged dropped with us finishing some 8 laps down, narrowly missing out on a race classification.

The weekend had been full of ups and downs, but for the team to get the car back out on track was a brilliant effort after Saturday’s incident and to then show the pace that we did out of the box was a real confidence

Finally I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all of my sponsors for getting me onto the track and to the Team for doing a brilliant job with the cars over the winter, plus all their hard work over the weekend.

You can keep up to date with me and my racing at

@jgmotorsport – Twitter

JackGoff.JGMotorsport – Facebook

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Tony Gilham

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