Michael Epps has completed the Team HARD driver line-up and will compete for the RCIB Insurance Racing squad alongside Jake Hill, allowing Chris Smiley to move over.
Epps, a multiple race winner in the VW Racing Cup last year, is preparing for his maiden British Touring Car Championship campaign thanks to Team HARD securing a third TOCA BTCC licence after Support Our Paras Racing relinquished its role in the series.
The 24-year-old is thrilled to take on the challenge but is aware of the steep learning curve ahead of him in the team's third Toyota Avensis as he only has less than month until the 2016 season opener.
“It's probably the most exciting time in my career so far,” Epps said. “I could only dream of a BTCC seat at one stage and now it's really happening – I'm struggling to take it in. There was a prospect of driving in the BTCC from the very beginning of my relationship with Team HARD and RCIB, but over the winter we have come closer and closer to actually being able to make a deal work.
“The opportunity presented itself and we had to grab it and work it into this. Now here we are and I can't wait to go blasting up to Paddock Hill on that first weekend at Brands.
“The aim is obviously to get as high up as possible and with the current situation of cars changing packages and lots of money being spent, you just never know. I'm optimistic and hoping to bring home points.”
Team principal Tony Gilham has stuck true to his word by an emphasis on bringing through young talent, with the 24-year-old narrowly raising the team's average age to just 23.
“We have chosen to support young up-and-coming drivers once again,” Gilham said. “We're rewriting the rulebook and focusing on skill rather than just looking for drivers with big budgets.
“Mike is another very exciting prospect and I can't wait to see what he can do in the Avensis. Having witnessed his pace last year, we are confident he will enjoy a very promising debut season. This is just the start of a long-term plan for the team as we now look to establish a solid platform on which to build moving forwards.”