Tom Onslow-Cole will miss out on the final three meetings of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, Team HARD taking the decision to allow for long-term gains.
Onslow-Cole, who lies 11th in the championship after an impressive year with Team HARD driving the team’s new Volkswagen Passat CC, will miss the remainder of the current season as the team intend to use the time to allow for thorough private tests with the still-developing machine in preparation for a more homed assault on next season’s campaign.
“It’s another difficult decision that we’ve had to make, but we just feel that our investment in Tom would be better spent on making sure the car is moving forward ahead of a real assault in 2014,” said Team HARD boss Tony Gilham, who confirmed that the decision was based on providing Onslow-Cole – amongst other drivers – with more opportunities to test and develop the car for a stronger 2014 season.
“We have a three year deal with Tom, which is a long-term relationship in the BTCC, so it’s the right time to make a decision that we believe will give him the chance to fight for a title next season and beyond”, added Gilham.
“We believe in the car and it has obviously scored podiums already this season. The car will still be utilised on race weekends for us to develop some of our young VW Cup drivers, with more details coming on that soon, but we need to be able to put Tom through an extensive winter testing programme that we believe will ensure the Passat can fight consistently at the front at all circuits.”
Former BTCC championship challenger Onslow-Cole has thrived in the all-new NGTC-specification VW Passat during the learning 2013 season, claiming three podium finishes along the way including one in as early as the seventh race of the year. Despite the disappointment factor of giving up his season prematurely, the former BMW, Vauxhall, Ford and Volkswagen driver understood the relevance of what it could help the team achieve in 2014.
“When you look at the project we’ve had a great first season with the VW Passat,” said Onslow-Cole. “To score podiums in one of the first events of the season was great, but it has been tough to develop the car over race weekends. Ideally we needed to have had a full testing programme but of course the car was brand new on the eve of the season. Financially we could finish the season, but then not have the backing we believe is needed in order to test the car significantly over the winter.
“I’m a racer so it’s always tough to make a decision that means we won’t be racing for the rest of the year, but if it gives both the team and I the best possible chance of winning in 2014 then it has to be the right decision.”