Tough Oulton Park weekend for AmD Milltek Racing.com
The AmD Milltek Racing.com team endured a difficult trip north for the latest rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Oulton Park, which ended with the team looking for a replacement for outgoing driver Tom Onslow-Cole.
The West Thurrock-based team headed to the Cheshire circuit on the back of its best BTCC weekend to date at Thruxton, where its ever-improving Volkswagen Golf secured two top ten finishes and was only prevented from scoring in each of the three races by a mechanical issue ahead of race two.
With further development work carried out between races, the team made the trip to Oulton Park keen to build on the progress made with the Golf after it was fitted with a Lehmann-developed two-litre turbo-charged engine built to the BTCC’s Next Generation Touring Car regulations.
New Malden racer Tom qualified 20th on the grid after a challenging qualifying session but the arrival of rain for race day played into the hands of the team as he quickly climbed up into the points to run seventh by the end of the second lap.
Unfortunately as the race wore on, Tom was forced to fight against understeer in the car that saw him lose positions, but he stayed out of trouble to bring the VW to the finish just outside the points in eleventh place.
With circuit conditions still damp ahead of race two, teams were forced to gamble on tyre choice with the Golf taking to the grid on slick tyres in the hope that rain would stay away and the circuit would dry.
Although forced to take it easy through the opening laps of the race, circuit conditions then started to come to the Volkswagen as the track dried out but before Tom could take advantage of his tyres, the rain returned – leaving him powerless to stop cars behind on wet tyres finding a way through.
After taking the chequered flag in 16th place, the team was hopeful of challenging for points in the final race of the weekend before Tom informed team principal Shaun Hollamby that he had been offered a drive elsewhere and would be leaving the AmD MIlltek Racing.com fold.
As a result of the announcement, the decision was taken to withdraw the car from the final race of the weekend with attention now turning to the next round of the campaign at Croft in two weeks time; which will mark the mid-way point of the 2011 season.
“Qualifying was disappointing this weekend and we expected to be quicker than we were,” Hollamby said. “The events that would unfold on Sunday may have had an effect on things, I honestly don’t know. We had good balance in the car but we just lacked speed and were too slow.
“We elected to run a softer set-up for Sunday to try and counter some of the problems we had and it turned out to be a good call because it was wet. Simon from Cornering Force, who does our data and suspension work, worked overnight to put together a softer roll bar for the car, which was a fantastic effort from him.
“In race one, Tom did a great job from 20th on the grid to get into the points so quickly but as the race wore on he started to suffer from understeer. He kept it out of trouble and brought the car to the finish but then we decided to gamble with slick tyres for race two. Just when it looked like we’d made the right call and the circuit was starting to dry out, the rain returned and that ended out chances. We were the only car to go with slicks all round in the race and if the conditions hadn’t changed, we could well have gone on to get a win as we would have been the only car on the right tyres.
“Tom’s revelation that he had been offered a drive elsewhere certainly wasn’t something I expected to hear in the run up to the final race and in the circumstances, it was the right decision not to risk the car. We wish him all the best for the future and have enjoyed working with him over the past four rounds and all concerned with the AmD Milltek Racing.com team are fully focused on continuing the progress we have made so far in 2011 through the rest of the season.”
AmD Milltek Racing.com are supported by AmD Essex, Milltek Sport, Tesco Momentum 99, YourRacingCar.com, Mintex, Super Pro, Pipercross, Corbeau, KW, ABS, Cornering Force, Airtec and SFS Hoses.
-source: amd milltek