Magnificent Spa Podium for Thompson

  • Bobby races to Belgian podium in ‘best race of my life’.
  • Spa lap record falls as teen ace targets more top finishes.

Hornchurch’s fastest teenager Bobby Thompson scored the first podium finish of his Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup career in record breaking fashion at the world famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium as he set Britain’s best supported one-make saloon car championship alight.

Eighteen year-old Thompson, one of the UK’s youngest ARDS qualified race instructors, effortlessly mastered the imposing, tree-lined 4.3-mile Belgian Grand Prix venue, coming within a whisker of his maiden pole position and underlying his status as one of the hottest properties in British saloon car racing.

“After the last round at Silverstone where everything that could go wrong did go wrong I needed to prove to everyone that the form I showed at the start of the year was no fluke and I definitely feel that the whole team did that this weekend,” said Bobby. “Everyone at Team HARD has worked really hard to get my car sorted for Spa and the car felt fantastic from the moment I hit the track for practice.”

Two hour-long practice sessions gave an indication of what was to come for the rest of the weekend with Bobby consistently among the top five on the timesheets even as the team continued to tinker with the gear settings on his fully race-prepared #19 Team HARD VW Golf GTI R Cup car.

“In practice I was able to draft and slipstream with the frontrunners and the new engine felt right on the pace. The set-up was spot on and even though I was lifting through Eau Rouge the car felt stable everywhere.”

Better was to come in the weekend’s sole qualifying session as Bobby positioned his distinctive Hampson Haulage/Go HAM Clothing/DNA Insurance Services backed machine directly behind his Team HARD teammates Michael Epps and Howard Fuller in order to make use of the slipstream around Spa’s long straights.

“Howard and myself spent most of the session setting fastest times,” says Bobby, who acts as a brand ambassador for Stilo Helmets. “But right at the end Michael Epps got a great tow on the pair of us and took pole but I was still more than happy with fourth on the grid as I knew the car had such strong pace.”

From the second row of the grid Bobby made a solid start to the opening 25-minute race of the weekend, which simply got better and better as the laps wound down.

“The car felt perfect and for the first few laps I had to change my mindset a little as I have been used to chasing the leaders all year and now I was with the leaders.”

For more than 20 breathtaking minutes the lead quartet circulated together, coming within inches of each other at speeds of more than 120mph around some of the world’s most famous corners and Bobby was able to pass championship leader David Sutton for third place going into the Campus Chicane. “On one occasion we went through Eau Rouge three abreast and nobody lifted. You see Eau Rouge on TV but it doesn’t do it justice. The elevation change is unbelievable and when you come out of the corner you are doing well over 100mph.”

Having deposed Sutton, Bobby set to work on his Team HARD teammate Howard Fuller for second place and with his car getting better and better as the race progressed he was able to break Spa’s long-standing VW Cup lap record with a time of 2:45.886-seconds. But with Fuller in a very defensive mood, Bobby settled for third place to complete the first all Team HARD podium in series history.

“I didn’t try anything too aggressive on Howard as he is my teammate but I tried to put him under pressure and remind him that I was there but he is an experienced driver and didn’t make any mistakes.

“I’m really happy with the podium though as it proves to myself and the team that I can contend for wins. I’m even more pleased that I was part for the first all Team HARD podium as the guys have worked really hard all year. But the icing on the cake was breaking the lap record, which was held by the team boss Tony Gilham. The whole result helps repay the faith Tony has shown in me and I’m thrilled to be the first driver of his Young Driver Programme to finish on the podium.”

With six races remaining Bobby is hungry for more podiums and the next two races at his home track of Brands Hatch in Kent offers the perfect opportunity for potential new sponsors to watch him in the flesh.

“I can’t wait to get to Brands Hatch as the team have got some incredible hospitality and we have hired a corporate suite for the weekend to entertain guests at my local track. My goals for the year were to get top five finishes but now I have had a taste of the podium champagne I definitely want some more.”

To find out more about Bobby’s racing activities please visit or follow his twitter feed @BTMotorsport

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