“As with any new car it’s taken a little bit of time to understand it fully, but we really look at the season in two halves. The first is when we look at what we have and really learn it, and the second half is where we aim to start winning races. We’re looking to put together a championship campaign in there somewhere as well.”
The Corolla uses much of the underpinnings of your old Avensis, so how has it changed?
“The principles remain the same, it’s a front-wheel-drive touring car with the same suspension. But the centre of gravity, wheelbase and so on change from there. So we’ve taken the base we have from before, and we’ve got to build from that.”
This time last year, you were still considered a rising star, but you enter this season as the championship runner-up and Toyota backing. Has the pressure changed?
“It comes with its own pressure. We’re running as Team Toyota GB with Ginsters this year, so we have the responsibility of making a manufacturer car run at the front, and keeping a big-name backer happy. It comes with its own challenges, but it’s something we can really enjoy and look back on and be proud of in years to come.”
Are there any risks of the Toyota deal? Both you and the Speedworks team have done great things as an ‘underdog’ family team in recent years.
“It’s a different level, but the beauty of Team Toyota GB is that, in the past it’s always been a manufacturer putting an arm around an independent team. That’s what’s happened here: they’ve not come in and asked us to wear white shirts and make sure the floors are swept twice a day. We remain the same small team, but now we just have manufacturer status. So we have manufacturer support, but our values remain the same.”