Team HARD has made the first move in the driver market this off-season, confirming reigning VW Cup champion Bobby Thompson as its first signing of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
"Bobby is an outstanding you talent, and we're excited to see how he fares against the top touring car drivers in the country," said Team HARD principal Tony Gilham.
"We have a very strong package and we're improving all the time as a team.
"He has already proven to use that he has what it takes to compete at the very top, and it is great to have got this deal done very early to give us the maximum amount of time to prepare over the winter. It is a big step up, but one that we believe he is more than ready for and we have no doubt that he will do us proud".
"I have had a fantastic year winning the VW Racing Cup and now Team HARD has given me the opportunity to step up to the BTCC," said Thompson. "I'm absolutely over the moon, it's been my dream for as long as I can remember.
"I never had any intention on trying to get to Formula 1 or anything that, it's always been touring cars and it's always been the BTCC.
"It'll be a big step up, I'm sure of that, but I think we're ready for it - we know what to expect," Thompson added.
"We had a test last year at Snetterton and it was amazing how much more grip there was available than in the VW Cup car. It's more demanding and I'm already working on my fitness.
"I've already had three years with Tony, starting back in 2015 in the VW Cup. I had a good year, finishing seventh or so in my first year then I topped it off last year. I'm so grateful to the team for making it possible and helping us get on the grid and I'm pleased to have the chance to stay loyal. I can't wait to get underway!".
Gilham added: "It is a testament to the whole team and the unique concept that we have created that enables us to be able to work with our drivers in this way, and provide what is now the complete ladder all the way to the top of British Motorsport.
"In what is a very tough industry, what we have makes it possible for racing drivers like Bobby to achieve their life-long ambitions and, more importantly, with the same team".