Team HARD are happy to announce that Toby Davis returns to the VW Racing Cup for 2017.
The former karter, who finished 3rd in the Junior KTM championship before moving to F250 National’s, entered Tony Gilham’s scholarship competition in 2015.
Toby won and was awarded a fully funded driver in the VW Cup last season. He took 5th place in his first race at Rockingham, coming from last on the grid after the car had a few technical issues. This showed the tenacity and determination of Toby, the same traits which awarded him the drive with Team HARD in the first instance.
He attained two pole at Donington and again showed his race craft in the final round at Brands Hatch. He did not start Race 1 due to technical issues and had to start from the back of the grid for the second race. He came through the field to finish 5th and in the finale took 3rd to round off a competitive season.
In preparation for 2017, Toby had this to say:
“The pre-season for me has been a lot of hard work, building relationships with local companies and bringing new partners on board. That said, I realised I could always be physically fitter, so I’ve joined a local football team in Cardiff, which has helped a lot in getting me ready for the new season!”
Speaking with Toby about winning the scholarship to drive for Tony Gilham, he found it overwhelming to describe his emotions.
“I can’t describe the feeling! Honestly, it was like winning the lottery. Throughout my career to date, it’s been my father and I scraping together a very small budget to go kart racing and have fun competing at a much lower level. It goes without saying that we had a great time, and I was lucky to be racing at all. But the scholarship that Tony puts on, it offers people like myself the opportunity to show what we can really do, and I honestly can’t explain how grateful I am for that opportunity. I don’t take it for granted and I try to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground!”
Like any racing driver at this time of year, Toby’s thoughts switch to the 2017 season and we asked him what his ambitions were for the forthcoming year as he builds on his first season from 2016.
“Last season was very much a learning curve for me. I had a lot of pace, we had a few mechanical issues and I made quite a few mistakes as well. To win in my second ever car race shows what might have been, and I had a couple of pole positions and some podiums to boot, which was great. I would love to compete for regular race wins and if I can sort out the mistakes, I’m hopeful we can fight for the title. Beyond the racing, the main goal is to continue to work closely with Team-HARD. to find the budget for 2018 and beyond and stay with the team as a fully-fledged car racing driver, and to earn my place as the Scholarship winner.”
His team boss, Tony Gilham, had this to say about Toby.
“Toby is an exceptional young talent and one that we recognised as a potential future champion after winning our Team HARD scholarship last year. He went on to take a race win on his debut weekend which was an amazing achievement and just highlighted the quality of the talent that came through the scholarship programme with no less than 6 other drivers progressing to race with is in 2016.
It was very important to move into year two with Toby and continue his progression and we have been working so hard over the winter to put together a package to get him back out. He has been very good with our partners and shown that he has what it takes on and off track. Now we look forward to seeing what Toby can produce with the experience of last year under his belt.”
This seemed the perfect time to sit Toby down and ask him the Quick 10 questions:
QUICK 10 WITH…..TOBY DAVIS
1. What is your favourite circuit and why?
Snetterton – in my karting days we raced on long circuits in Superkarts and my first race win came at Snetterton. I love the flow of the new 300 layout and it’s very much about maximising the apex speed and carrying momentum forwards in the cars, something that comes naturally to me thanks to many years of karting.
2. Who is/was your racing idol?
That’s an easy one, and not always a popular choice – Jason Plato. Not just because he’s the most successful touring car driver, and has to be one of the most talented touring car drivers of all time, but also because of his ability to bring on board sponsors and partners and market himself and his team to them.
3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?
Your toughest opponent is always the one that has beaten you most recently. For me that’s Phil House. He has a lot of experience and makes very good racing decisions (knowing when to overtake, for example), and I suspect he never had any contact in 2016! He’s also the reigning champion, and I’ve learnt a lot from studying him both on and off track. He did a great job in 2016 – hopefully I can do a better job in 2017!
4. Considering racers of all time, you are a team principal and money is no object. Which two racers would you have in your team?
If I was team principal of a touring car team, it would be Jim Clark and Jason Plato. Jim Clark has to be one of the most rounded drivers of all time, and won in pretty much anything he drove.
5. If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present), who would you invite?
Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Tony Gilham. Think of the marketing opportunities that Tony and I could offer them!
6. Personal racing number? What is it and the reason behind it?
I was always number 20 growing up and in karting because of Michael Owen’s goal against Argentina in 1998(!) Tony’s kindly loaned me #34 as a synergy with the team, which I’d love to hold onto if I end up in BTCC – that entirely depends on whether Mr Gilham wants to have a play or not at the same time…
7. What is the best race you have been involved in?
In terms of the racing, Silverstone 2016 in the MSA British Superkart Championship. Any one of about 5 drivers could have won that race and I ended up 2nd. It was incredible! (It’s on You Tube)
8. Is there a race or series you have not competed in, that you would like to or had wanted to?
Easy – BTCC. That’s the goal for me, and I’m in the right place to eventually make that happen. I’m still a massive fanboy for BTCC and I’m like a small child whenever I go to an event!
9. How did you get into motor racing? What ignited that spark?
My father always used to watch the F1 and loved his bikes. He’s entirely at fault, we’re both petrolheads! My first memory as a young child was the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix, which was won on aggregate by Hill from Schumacher due to the weather. That was pure, out and out, who could go fastest in the wet, and Hill just held on. I have watched that race back many, many times and it’s still my favourite race of all time. They did 10 laps or so at the end of pure qualifying runs, right on the limit.
10. What is the best advice in racing you have been given?
My family as a whole have always been incredibly supportive, my mother has always been at the racing, sometimes watching between her fingers! Her advice has always been never give up on your dream. My dream is to drive in the BTCC, and through the incredible generosity of Team-HARD, I have been given an opportunity to get there. What was once a dream is now a tangible possibility, and I will never give up working as hard as I can to improve all aspects of being a racing driver to achieve that.
We would like to thank Toby for taking the time out from his busy preparations to take part in the Quick 10 and for supplying the photographs. Best of luck for 2017 Toby.
Go Hard…..or…..Go Home
Toby Davis Promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbNoHhev59Q
Toby Davis Twitter: @TobyDavis34
Images courtesy of Toby Davis