Tom Onslow-Cole has sent shockwaves through the BTCC paddock with the announcement that he will switch to AmD Milltek Racing for the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship. The 23 year old will race the team's single YourRacingCar.com backed VW Golf, while Shaun Hollamby, who was widely expected to be racing the car once again this season, will take on the role of team manager.
After years of running with big name teams like WSR, Arena Motorsport and Triple Eight, his decision to move to one of the series' smaller teams has surprised many fans, but Onslow-Cole believes he can turn the team's Golf into a front-running machine.
Onslow-Cole has become a real frontrunner in the BTCC over the years, winning races with both WSR in 2007 and Triple Eight Vauxhall in 2008, before enjoying his most successful season to date in 2010. Racing in Team Aon's LPG powered Ford Focus; he won four races on his way to heading into the season's final rounds with a chance of winning the prestigious title, eventually finishing fourth in the standings.
The New Malden-based driver believes the Golf has improved significantly in the hands of AmD over the winter and is sure that he can enjoy success in the car. He will be aided by the car's new turbocharged VW TFSI engine, which will give the car more power and torque than it had last season. Onslow-Cole has experience of the engine too, after he tested in rival team Special Tuning Racing's Seat Leon at Silverstone recently, a car that uses the same power plant.
Commenting on his move, he said: “I really liked the feel of the engine in the SEAT and, having followed the Golf a few times on track last year when I was driving the Ford, I know already that it's a very nimble car around corners with a good change of direction and also very capable over the kerbs.
“With the turbocharged TFSI engine fitted there's a lot of potential here. Of course we won't know exactly where we stand until we're in a properly competitive situation – such as the first qualifying session at Brands Hatch's opening round in two weeks. But I like the set-up here, Shaun's got a very enthusiastic, experienced and positive crew working within the team. Knowing the team will be built solely around me is a big draw and I want to work with them and develop the Golf into a regular top ten contender. The additional support from YourRacingCar.com was an added incentive to join the team as the club gives its members a unique opportunity to have a direct involvement with the BTCC grid.”
The move sees Hollamby step out the driver's seat, after a solid first season in the series last year, a year which saw him developing the car as well as getting used to the hustle and bustle of the BTCC. The 45 year old took a best result of thirteenth at Knockhill and his hard work made him a real fans favourite, with him picking up the btcc.net Fans Trophy award at the end of the season, given by the fans to the driver who most embodies the spirit of the BTCC.
Commenting on the new arrangement, Hollamby added: “Stepping down from the driving duties this season was an easy decision once I had got Tom to sign on the dotted line. Tom is one of the Top 10 Touring Car drivers in the world and has won races in every car he has driven- our job is to continue this winning streak! I would like to thank all the fans for their huge support in our debut season and rest assured AmD Milltek Racing will continue to be passionate about keeping the fans involvement.
”I would not have approached a driver of Tom's standing if I did not genuinely believe our Golf was going to be capable of some serious giant-killing acts in 2011. We've hit it off immediately and Tom has been very complimentary about our set-up – everyone involved is really buzzing as a result and we can't wait to get started with him. A huge amount of preparation and development work has gone into the Golf during the off-season – with a driver of Tom's technical know-how and natural speed we hope the following we gained in 2010 will become even stronger in 2011.”