On the first day of the Autosport International show AmD Milltek Racing took the cover off the 2011 version of their British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) Volkswagen Golf, a car driver Shaun Hollamby believes will push the team up the grid in the their second season in the championship.
The Essex based team had a debut season that was difficult at times, but one of steady improvement as the squad gained experience. “It was a huge learning curve, both for me, the team and the hospitality crew involved with us as well,” said Hollamby. “We learnt a lot, the big difference was setting up the car from the start of the season to the end of the season, but also from my driving point of view – a lot more aggressive, we pushed things a lot further on the track.”
“I'd raced for thirty years,” he adds. “But every time I went out on the track during a Touring Car session I learnt more and more and more and my driving came on massively and you're driving with some of the best touring car drivers in the world so it can't fail to rub off.”
While the car unveiled at the Birmingham NEC show looked largely the same on the outside – the AmD and Milltek sponsorship remains, as does the black and red livery – beneath the bodywork the new Golf is vastly different to its predecessor – the product of a winter of development and the addition of a new NGTC turbo-charged engine.
And it is the new powerplant Hollamby believes will be the key to his 2011 season.
“We were about 50 horsepower down on the top teams last year so we're back up to what everybody else has got,” he explains.
“That's good and this time last year when everything was brand new now we've got a base line and we can push off from there. We've got the power we need, the car's been worked on, had a lot of development, looks the business and we want to get into the top 10, that's the aim this season.”
Hollamby revealed that a switch to the NGTC engine during 2010 was something the team “toyed with”, though the fact the procedure would have meant putting a Vauxhall engine in a VW car stuck in his throat as a man with a long history with VW group cars. Needless to say the engine for 2011 is a VW based unit.
Also new for the 2011 season is a link up with YourRacingCar.com, the no.99 Volkswagen sporting a YRC decal on each C-pillar and a mosaic of the project's members on the roof. “To be involved with a fan's club quite so directly is great and does exactly what we want to do and also at the end of last year we won the fan's trophy which was a great incentive for us and really showed what we're doing, we're doing it right.”
“As well as the all important money side of things what it also does is it links us in with the fans a lot more this project has always been about promotion as well as just going motor racing. We're a slightly different motor racing team in the respect that we want to publicise companies, you'll see Milltek Sport who make performance exhausts and AmD who are a performance tuner,” adds Hollamby, who is also MD of AmD Essex
2011 will see more teams – lured in by the new NGTC regulations – join the BTCC grid, so what does Hollamby have to say to those standing where he did 12 months ago?
“Be prepared for a war really, it hard work. You've to really get your head down – it's a big step up from any championship below that, it's really a dog eat dog world so you've got to get in and get involved and learn the ropes, Don't be afraid of a bit of bumping and boring because that's what it's all about.”