By Pat Cranham - BTCC reporter
In a shock and surprising announcement it has been officially confirmed that Tom Onslow-Cole will race an AmD Miltek.com Racing VW Golf in the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Onslow-Cole joined the BTCC grid for WSR in 2007 driving a BMW after winning the Clio Cup championship in 2006. Following a successful debut season which saw him take a single victory at Snetterton, Onslow-Cole joined the all conquering VXRacing team in 2008 and impressed, despite his illustrious team mates Fabrizio Giovanardi and Matt Neal taking a further 2 victories.
For 2009 Onslow-Cole managed only a part season for Team Aon whilst they were still developing their Ford Focus. For 2010 he managed to secure a full season with Team Aon where he had his most successful season to date, taking a number of victories and went into the last race with a chance of taking the title.
So therefore, to join a team who failed to register a single point scoring position in 2010 is a major shock. However for 2011 the AmD Golf has undergone a major transformation and looked a completely different car when unveiled back at the Autosport International show back in January.
What makes this announcement even more of a shock was that Shaun Hollamby who drove the car in 2010 was already previously confirmed for the drive, nevertheless he has agreed to become team manager to go with his day job as managing director of AmD Miltek. Speaking about the decision Hollamby said, “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.”
At the heart of the improvement is the all-new NGTC engine, the same that will be run by Special Tuning Racing as developed by Lehmann.
Onslow-Cole was heavily linked over the winter with Airwaves Racing, however in recent weeks it looked most likely that he would join Special Tuning Racing after he tested the Seat fitted with the turbocharged VW TFSI engine at Silverstone.
Speaking about the surprise announcement Onslow-Cole 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 has built a very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and positive group of people, I know the team will be built solely around me and I want to work with them and develop the Golf into a regular top ten menace.”
The team has yet to turn a wheel with the new engine but this week official unveiling and subsequent test will be the perfect opportunity to see how far the team has come over the winter.