Race winner Ash Hand will return to the Renault UK Clio Cup after signing a late deal with Team Pyro.
Hand led the championship in 2015 going into the final round, before team-mate Ashley Sutton snatched the title away at Brands Hatch. He ended the season with seven race wins and just five fewer points than Sutton.
The Nuneaton based driver sat out last season, and returns to the Clio Cup just days before the first race this weekend, but Hand is confident he’ll be able to pick up where he left off.
“I see no reason why I can’t turn up at Brands this weekend and do some winning,” said Hand. “I’ve been training on the iZone simulator and am just as sharp as I was in 2015.
“Sure, there’s the new Michelin tyre to get used to but by the time we finished the two official test sessions on Friday I expect to be getting on with the car just as well as I always did.
“In my mind, I should have been Champion in 2015. That’s history now but, make no mistake, I am coming back to win the title. I know what needs doing.”
The lack of track time ahead of the first round of the 2017 season may hurt Hand more than expected, with many drivers commenting about how much testing has been needed this year with the new tyres.
If Hand wants the title, he’ll have tough competition once again with this season set to be tighter than any before. The team is expecting Hand to, once again, find a title rival alongside him in the garage.
“It is a great coup for us to have him back on board, particularly as we also have the 2014 Champion Mike Bushell racing for us,” said team principal Mark Hunt. “No doubt we are in for a very competitive rivalry between team-mates but it is something we have become used to at Pyro over the years!”
Feature image credit: Renault UK Clio Cup Press Office