Goff gets set for the big time
When Team BMR announced that it had signed Colin Turkington and Jason Plato to race alongside Aron Smith and team boss Warren Scott for the 2015 BTCC season, there was one question on many peoples lips.
What about Jack Goff?
While fans on Twitter started to quiz the 23-year-old about his future, what they didn’t know was that his own future was already secure, with a deal having been signed with Triple Eight to drive the second, manufacturer-backed, MG during the year ahead.
It marks the big break for the 2012 Clio Cup champion who, after two seasons filled with challenges, now finds himself sitting in one of the most sought-after seats that was available over the winter.
And he’s as surprised as anyone by that fact given his previous battles to raise the budget needed to race. Don’t forget, he was forced to miss Knockhill during his debut season for that very reason…
“I don’t think many people expected to see me signing with Triple Eight and to be honest, I didn’t know if it was the kind of deal I’d be able to secure, given how hard it’s been to raise a budget in recent years,” he told Inside BTCC. “However, when I spoke to Ian Harrison and knew there was a deal to be done, the ball just started rolling.
“MG wanted a young driver who could represent their brand on and off the track – and it seemed that I fit the bill. With the possibility of a drive, I then had to go to my sponsors and the key people behind me to explain what was available and to try and get the extra money. In a bizarre way, because it was Triple Eight with their past success and because it was MG as a manfacturer-backed team, there was more ‘buzz’ with my sponsors and I could get the additional funding to make the deal happen.”
There was then just the small matter of trying to keep the biggest deal of his career to date under wraps…
“When Warren announced that he’d signed Colin and Jason, it actually had a positive impact on me,” he added. “While it was hard to keep quiet that I had a deal in place, the BMR announcement created an additional level of interest around me from fans and the media, and there was more discussion about where I was going to be.
“We could have come out at the same time as BMR and announced what I was doing, but I think we maximised the news and it was great to see the reaction when it was announced to the public.”
Having inked a deal with one of the top teams in series history, big things are expected from Goff this year – not least joining the likes of Aron Smith, Tom Onslow-Cole, Sam Tordoff, Dave Newsham and Rob Huff as a member of the Clio Cup alumni to win a BTCC race.
While that hasn’t yet happened, it’s not been for a lack of trying over the last two years. However, despite showing flashes of speed, Goff has never quite had the package underneath him to show his true potential.
“When I came into the BTCC with Tony Gilham in 2013, we knew it was going to be difficult,” he said. “I’ll always be thankful to Tony for giving me a chance as I wouldn’t have made it onto the grid without him, but it was no secret that we were running on a tight budget and that the team had a package with the Insignia that it was trying to develop as the year went on. It was tough, but to come away from the final round with a podium like we did was huge reward for the team, and created a buzz with my sponsors for 2014.
“When Warren effectively took over the team and re-signed me for last season, we thought we’d be able to push on with the Insignia and move forwards. With the NGTC rules, we expected it to work like the VW so we’d have four cars working together on development, but by Croft, it was clear we were having to take a different direction with the two cars. The decision was made to swap to the VW and the did a great job to get the cars ready, but then I was in at the deep-end at Snetterton as it was my first time in the car.
“We got some good results there, but then went to Knockhill where I’d not been before, so I was on the backfoot. At Rockingham, we had issues in qualifying that put me on the backfoot again even though we had one of the quickest race cars, and then it was similar at Silverstone when the driveshaft went in qualifying. At Brands Hatch, the car was mega in practice but then I missed my best lap in qualifying when Dave Newsham went off and brought out the red flags. To top it off, the wipers then failed in the rain on race day when I was well placed!
“The simple fact is that luck just didn’t go our way in the second half of the season. I’ve shown flashes of speed and of what I can do, but I don’t feel that I’ve had the opportunity to really show my true potential in a BTCC car. Not yet anyway…”
Triple Eight boss Ian Harrison has made it clear that he feels his new look driver line-up will be able to challenge for the manufacturers’ title for a second successive season, and while he may not have the experience of title-winning team-mate, Goff said he felt he had plenty to bring to the table.
“Andrew wanted a team-mate who could really push him, and that’s something I know I can do,” he said. “I showed in Clios that I can win races and put together a championship challenge, and now I want to help the team fight for the title during the year ahead. The car is a proven race winner and with a bit more luck, Jason could well have won the title in it last year. As for the team, you only have to look at the trophies at the factory to see how good they are.
“The long-term aim is to do a good enough job to build a longer-term relationship with the team, but at the moment, it’s a one year deal and my focus is on the job at hand. I’ll only get to try the car for the first time next week, but with everything Andrew has said about it, I can’t wait to get started.
“Once I’ve driven the MG, I’ll have a better idea of where I stand, but when we get to Brands Hatch, I’ll be giving my all to stick the car on pole. I don’t feel under any pressure, apart from the pressure I put on myself, but I expect to be at the front and winning races as soon as possible.”