Sunday was a very special day for the AmD Milltek Racing.com team. In the second of the day’s three British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) races driver Tom Onslow–Cole brought the VW Golf home in seventh place for the team’s first overall points, just four races into its second season.
It is probably fair to say the result was one of the more popular in recent years. The small team – driver turned team manager Shaun Hollamby points out they are the only independent team who have built their own car – won the Fans' Trophy last year, a relationship with the pubic only improved with the new for 2011 tie in with Your Racing Car.
However, the result was also popular among the drivers in the BTCC paddock. Gordon Shedden travelled near the entire length of the Donington Park pitlane to congratulate Onslow-Cole and the driver of the safety car stopped outside the team's garage to offer his own support.
“It's big thing for me,” said Onslow-Cole as the team went to work on the Golf. “It's a challenge to come here and work with the team on trying to get some the milestones under our belt – getting points in the championship and achieving things that haven't been done before with the car – and I relish that challenge, I really enjoy it and it's just to nice to see it going forward already which is really positive.”
“It's not all down to my involvement with it at all,” he reflected. “The team are working so hard behind the scenes and a lot of the development done over the winter I was totally uninvolved in really brought the car along. We're happy, we've gone from a bad day yesterday to a good day today”
In return Hollamby praised his driver, only confirmed at the team in the fortnight before the season began. “A very sensible race from Tom,” he said, “but very quick obviously. We were saying 'let's got for points' Gordon Shedden was coming up and there was no need to have a fight. Fight the battles you can win, there's no point in fighting the battles you can't. So absolutely fantastic.”
To that point the result was a highlight in an unremarkable weekend. The team had struggled with an electrical problem in qualifying on a “frustrating” day according to Hollamby before Onslow-Cole battled with an ill handling car in race one.
After race two the driver looked back; “at the end of race we were twelfth and we sat down in the bus and I had this bit of a weird handling characteristic from the car and I couldn't quite explain it as a driver I was a bit lost with it and I sat down with the team and looked through the data and it was a simple thing. It was not easy to see on the data but my engineer found it, explained it and we managed to sort that out and it really transformed the car so from the I think we were fairly confident we would have a vehicle under us that we could a couple forward.”
The biggest frustration, however, was left for the final race of the day. From third on the reversed grid Onslow-Cole had got into the lead before the first corner, before running wide and dropping to third.
Further on in the opening lap, he was the unlucky victim at the end of a chain reaction incident at the Old Hairpin that brought the best of days for the team to an unsatisfactory end.