At the end of a winter in which he seriously considered making the move to Supercar, Derek Tohill has confirmed his 2013 presence in TouringCar and warmed-up for the opening round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship with a win at Lydden in the first round of the MSA British Rallycross Championship.
Tohill, the TouringCar champion in 2010, was delighted with the performance of his rear-wheel drive Fiesta in the test outing. “We completely rebuilt the car this winter, took it back to the bare shell. It was the chance to make some changes I wanted and also to update it a bit; fit a new transmission, change some suspension things. We only just got it finished before Lydden but it ran well there, the car felt good and was reliable. That was a good shakedown but the real test will be at Easter and the start of the European championship,” said Tohill who conducted the rebuild with his own team in Dublin.
The Irishman has never made any secret of his desire to race a Supercar and says he came very close to making the step last winter. “I seriously looked at it. I had some offers for the TouringCar and came quite close to making the change but in the end I decided to stick with TouringCar for another year. There were several reasons for that, not least of which is the amount of time I need to devote to my business which I have expanded in the last year and the birth of our second child,” said Tohill.
As the FIA European Rallycross Championship moves into a new era, Tohill (37) is eager to maximise the benefits of taking part in a higher profile series. “I’ve managed to keep a number of long-term partners with me for this year and add some new backers. I hope that the marketing and promotion that IMG bring to the championship will help me offer extra value to everyone involved in my team,” he said. Like most in rallycross, Tohill has worked his way up from the beginner’s classes and thinks the class structure of the European championship provides for a wide range of drivers. “Virtually everyone has come up through the ranks and having TouringCar and Super1600 in the European championship gives drivers like me the opportunity to progress from national level as well as letting young drivers race and learn at international events,” he said, “With the right kind of support for TouringCar and Super1600 there is no reason why other drivers can’t do what Andreas Bakkerud and Anton Marklund have done this winter and make the step from being champion in the class to racing in Supercar.”
A regular event winner with a European title on his CV, Tohill might maintain a modest opinion of his own place in the championship, but the fact is that he is one of the top men, one of those the aspiring pro-racers will benchmark themselves against. “I can see that what’s happening in the European championship is good. If I was in my 20s now I’d be thinking that this was all my dreams come true and be trying to make a career out of rallycross too!”