By Steve Hindle, images by Howard Fielding
Jack Goff will be the first to admit that it’s been a season that wasn’t meant to be. First he lost his race-winning Honda drive when the Eurotech team closed its doors and sold both cars. Then, with uncertainty over his budget, opportunities that might have knocked simply passed him by, leaving the former Clio Cup champion to announce that he wouldn’t be joining the grid of 2019, and would, instead, need to seek options elsewhere.
And then came the lifeline: A phone call from his former boss at Team Hard, Tony Gilham, explaining that Mike Bushell was no longer able to lead his squad and would Goff be interested in taking-over the vacant seat? It was a question that didn’t need to be asked twice.
However, such was the lateness of the deal that the first time he was able to get behind the wheel of the revised car was at the new season’s Media Day launch. Even so, three points finishes from the first four outings suggested that Goff had already found promise and pace, but then came the downturn: Three retirements and three no-starts heavily outweighing the two further scores; adrenalin and chaos at times blending seamlessly in the fight to take the action away from the pit lane and out of the garage and onto the track.
It’s been a tough year for the entire team, drivers and crew alike, and it was almost ‘same again’ at Snetterton as engine woes forced the #31 car to sit-out Race 2, but then in an incredible display of racing, and hampered by the less fancied medium tyre, Jack Goff flexed every sinew at his disposal to scythe through the field and make-up 20 places, racing from 30th to finish in P10 in what is already, justifiably, being pronounced as one of the greatest races of the NGTC era.
It’s a result that couldn’t have come at a more cruicial time. Deals are already being lined-up for 2020 and Goff needed an impact statement; well they don’t come much better than this! And so now, for Tony Gilham, the challenge will be to keep his young star whilst finding the investment needed to build with experience in the garage. His cars clearly have race pace but that’s more down to tyre management. Sadly, Saturday afternoons are still a struggle and it’s as a consequence of bottom-half qualifying that the CC is all too often pitched into brutal battles it simply cannot win.
Lets see what Thruxton brings.