BTCC race winners Tom Onslow-Cole and Dave Newsham have both secured deals that will see them continue in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship for 2013.
Both have made a switch in teams with Onslow-Cole joining Team HARD from West Surrey Racing while Newsham departs ES Racing to join Speedworks.
Last season Onslow-Cole drove for West Surrey Racing where he was a regular front-runner, finishing 6th in the series with a number of podiums. He has previously won races for VXracing, Team Aon and West Surrey Racing (back during his first spell with the team in 2007) and becomes the second driver in two days to sign for Tony Gilham’s Team HARD squad.
During his BTCC career Onslow-Cole has regularly switched teams and often struggled for budget, but has confirmed a 3 year deal with the team and admitted that that was a major reason for signing for the team as well the plan Gilham has for the future and said, “I’ve seen what Tony’s plans are longer term and they fit perfectly with the direction I want my career to take. Obviously with NGTC there are significantly more common components under the skin and a team who can put a strong, reliable car together first off is going to stand out. Again from what I’ve seen of the people Tony is putting in place behind the scenes I’m very confident the Passat will be a first class touring car. The three-year deal also gives me a real opportunity to put my stamp on things. It’s like starting with a clean sheet of paper and that’s very exciting for me.”
Team boss Gilham is understandably delighted to have someone of Onslow-Cole’s caliber on board and admits he is one driver who could take the team onto the next level and said, “We’re thrilled to have Tom on board. He fits perfectly into the Team HARD. set-up that we have carefully built for the 2013 season and is also one of the most exciting drivers on the BTCC grid. Our goal is to win the championship together. He is very marketable and fits within our ethos – to work as hard off-track as we do on-track.”
For Gilham this not only proves quite a capture for his team but also is quite a surprise. This is because WSR, Onslow-Cole’s team from last year, have just announced their plans for 2013 to switch to NGTC spec cars, which leaves a vacant seat at the team; perhaps for 2009 BTCC champion Colin Turkington who has long wished for a return to the team that brought him that crown, but has struggled for budget since winning and announced last season that a return was a real possibility for 2013.
The second driver to announce his 2013 plans is yet another former Clio champion Newsham, who makes the switch to Speedworks where he will race their new generation spec Toyota Avensis.
Last season Speedworks ran Adam Morgan and Tony Hughes but Morgan, who drove for the team as a prize from Ginetta after winning the Ginetta Supercup in 2011, has announced that he will return to his family run team that brought him that championship in a similar but older Spec Avensis. Hughes has announced his retirement from racing. The team’s best result last season however came with Paul O’Neill, who drove in place of Hughes at Croft and Knockhill where he finished with a best position of 4th and the team spoke of their desire to have him in the team full time for 2013.
After winning the 2010 Clio cup, Newsham made his step up to the BTCC with Geoff Steel Racing in a BMW but left the team after just two races and joined Special Tuning Racing in a Seat for the remainder of the season. Newsham’s performances improved there but he couldn’t quite make it onto the podium.
Newsham has already had his first taste of the car at a bitterly cold Donington Park last month and is delighted to step up to an NGTC machine for 2013 and has high hopes for the season ahead saying, “I am absolutely over the moon about this deal. They are a very professional outfit; the engineering team there really know their stuff and my car will have all the latest developments on it. I cannot wait to get started. With the deal done so early it hopefully means we will be well prepared going into the opening round at Brands Hatch (30/31 March) and can target big points straight away. I certainly believe we will be able to challenge for the Independent drivers’ and teams’ trophies.”