Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship outfit Team-HARD. have signed James Cole to race the second of their NGTC Vauxhall Insignias in 2013.
Single-seater ace Cole wants to use the media potential of the series to help with the introduction of a new road-safety initiative, which will be launched later this month.
“I’ve always been a big fan of touring car racing,” the 24-year-old said, “so when the chance to move into the series was presented, it was a very easy decision to make.
“The BTCC provides the perfect platform for my ambitions with the new initiative and I’ll be revealing these over the next few weeks.”
“It [the venture] will be far reaching and high-profile, with a relevance to every road user, young and old. I was knocked down and seriously injured outside my school as an 11-year-old so it is really important to me that I work with the BTCC and Team HARD to maximise the benefits of its launch, and now that I’ve signed with Tony I can start to finalise the details and finalise the strategy for the season.”
Cole has an impressive history in single-seater racing ahead of his switch to touring cars.
He rose quickly through the ranks of single-seaters, winning the North West Formula Ford Championship in 2007, stepping up to the British Formula Ford Championship in 2008 and winning this championship in only his second season, an achievement which earned him nomination for the prestigious McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award in 2009.
Moving to the British F3 National Class in 2010, Cole won nine races and took eight poles on route to being runner up in only his first season at this level.
Since this time, Cole raced in F2 in 2011, and spent 2012 working on developing the new road-safety initiative and putting plans in place for its launch – and is excited to work with the team on and off track.
He added: “Tony Gilham is an accomplished driver and team owner. As a race driver he understands my goals and how we can work together to achieve the racing results I’ll be out to get and as a team owner he is acutely aware of the commercial requirements I’m looking for to successfully launch a major new road-safety campaign.
“With Tom Onslow-Cole and Jack Goff already announced, Tony is putting together a very strong driver line-up and I think Team HARD will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Team boss Gilham commented: “It’s great to have James joining the team for 2013 and bringing such an innovative and inspiring initiative; I’m very impressed with the plans he has for next season, both on-track and off-track.
“He proved to be very competitive and skilful driver in single seaters, and I think he’ll quickly find his feet in BTCC.
“He’s a smart young guy, who is obviously hard working so I’ve no doubt that he’ll be putting everything into making sure he’s on the pace and holding his own in the ‘lion’s den’ of the BTCC grid.”
The Kent-based outfit announced before Christmas Tom Onslow-Cole would be the driving force behind its in-house NGTC Volkswagen CC project, while defending Clio Cup champion Jack Goff was confirmed as driving one of their NGTC Vauxhall Insignias just before.
Only their S2000 Honda Civic remains without a confirmed driver.