BIG INTERVIEW: Boardman back behind the wheel

Tom Boardman, right, in action at Brands Hatch earlier this month (photo: Mike Inkley)
Tom Boardman, right, in action at Brands Hatch earlier this month (photo: Mike Inkley)

Craig Salmon talks to Forton racing driver Tom Boardman, who is making a comeback this year at the British Touring Car Championships

Forton racing driver Tom Boardman is hoping to make up for lost time this year after making a welcome return behind the wheel of his touring car.

It has been four years since the 34-year-old donned his racing suit and competed on some of the most famous race tracks in the world.

Forton driver Tom Boardman

Forton driver Tom Boardman

But despite being a long time away from the racing scene, Boardman is hoping to come back with a bang during the 2018 British Touring Car Championships.

It is a series of races which he know well after competing in it many times in the past before going on to compete on the world stage.

Indeed in 2001, he became the youngest driver in the history of the BTCC when he competed in the now-defunct production class as a teenager.

Since then he has built a glittering career racing all around the world – achieving some memorable moments , including winning both the SEAT Cupra Championship and the Spanish-based SEAT Leon Supercopa. He is hoping to recreate some of those memories after accepting a position on the The AmDtuning.com with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing team for this year.

He had his first outing on the track when he competed at Brands Hatch in the first meeting of the BTCC earlier this month.

And he is set to race again this weekend when the Championship moves to Donington Park for the next stage.

“The British Touring Car Championship is not something that I haven’t done before,” said Boardman.

“But I have been out of racing for quite a long time – it’s been over four years.

“But I got an opportunity to get back into it, so really I am just trying to enjoy it. The reason why I have been out for so long is the budget.

“It’s a very expensive game.”

Boardman believes his time out of the sport has allowed him to recharge his batteries and will provide him with extra fire in his belly when his car is revving on the start line. “I have missed racing, but I have been doing it since the age of 10-years-old.

“So pulling out wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

“Obviously I missed the racing during the first year, but I just carried on.

“We run a caravan and motorhome storage business, so I have been running that full-time.

“I haven’t done anything over these four years in terms of racing apart from watching it on television.

“I am a big motorsport fan.

“I was always thinking in the back of my mind that I would get back into it some day.

“It’s just so happened that it’s this year, so I am really looking forward to it and hopefully I can do well this year.”

Remarkably, despite being out for so long, Boardman showed he has lost none of his skills as a racing driver during the first weekend of the season at Brands Hatch.

Over the three-race meeting – having had little time to adapt and test his new NGTC car – his performance particularly in race two where he finished just off the podium in fourth place, showed how promising the rest of the season can be.

“It’s pretty competitive,” said Boardman. “There are some big teams out there.

“If you’re not 100%, you’re not going to do so well. So it’s a big challenge again.

“But I was pleased how things went in the first meeting at Brands Hatch.

“I got a fourth place in the second race; the first I just finished outside the points and the third race, I got shoved out wide.

“I didn’t get any points, but I still managed to finish the race so it wasn’t too bad.

“I wasn’t surprised how I did – I wanted to do better really so I was a little bit gutted.

“If I had of pushed a little bit harder in that second race, I could possibly have got on the podium.

“The next meeting is at Donington this weekend.

“I love it there – it’s a classic circuit. I love all the British circuits to be honest.

“I am hoping to get on the podium, but you just never know.”

Boardman will be drawing on the reservoir of experience he has gained from the past – the highlights of which were competing on the WTCC in 2009, 2012 and 2013.

In 2009 , he finished fifth in the Independent’s Trophy, memorably taking one Independent win at the UK round at Brands Hatch

“I think winning the SEAT Championship in the UK and then going to Spain and winning that was a great highlight of my career,” said Boardman.

“That led to the world touring cars and being able to travel the world and race a car was absolutely out of this world.

“It was an amazing experience.”