Pat Cranham, BTCC correspondent
West Surrey Racing, who are one of the most successful and longest serving teams in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid, today announced their exciting plans for 2012.
They will be entering a trio of BMW’s for last season’s drivers Rob Collard and Nick Foster while Tom Onslow-Cole returns to the team he first entered the series with back in 2007. In further exciting news for the multiple Independent champions and 2009 driver champion team last year sponsors eBay motors have stepped up their involvement within the team to become title sponsor. Under the bonnet will be a Turbo 2.0l BMW tuned engine as built by Neil Brown engineering, the men who powered Honda to last year’s BTCC crown and will continue with them as well as Pirtek Racing for this year.
With Collard, Foster and Onslow-Cole this surely has to be one of the strongest line ups on the grid. For Collard this marks his third consecutive year with the team while Foster returns after a very impressive first year. Securing Onslow-Cole is also a major catch for the team as he is one of the hottest properties within the series.
We have worked with Rob, Nick and Tom in the past and together they make a fantastic team.
After winning the Clio cup in 2006 Onslow-Cole first entered the BTCC in 2007 with WSR in a BMW then under Team RAC sponsorship during a very impressive debut year which saw him take one victory at Snetterton that year. Since then he has enjoyed successful spells with VX Racing and Team Aon as well as a short spell last year with AmD Miltek but is delighted at rejoining WSR for 2012 and certainly has high hopes for the season ahead and said, “I’m excited to be joining eBay Motors for the 2012 season and to again be part of the WSR team with such a history of success. This season I am looking to challenge for regular podiums as we certainly have the car to be at the front of the grid. I am counting down the days until the new season and can’t wait to get started at Brands Hatch’s opening round on 1 April.”
WSR were set up in 1981 and ran some of the biggest names in motor racing including the great Ayton Senna in F3 on his way to F1. They have since become one of the most successful teams on the BTCC grid dating back to the 1990’s running works Fords and Hondas during the Super Touring era. With the end of the Super Touring era in 2000 they then switched to MG’s running a works team from 2001-2003 although they continued to run the car as an Independent outfit until the end of the 2006 season.
For 2007 they switched to the BMW and enjoyed a hugely successful few years winning the Independent drivers championship with Colin Turkington in 2007, 08 and 09 in which he also took the outright championship. Amazingly 2009 was the last time WSR made the top step of the podium after struggling for the past two seasons with an under powered normally aspirated engine.
Now wins are surely back on the cards for the team and team boss Dick Bennets now firmly believes that WSR will get back to where they belong and said, “I believe eBay Motors has a very strong driver line-up for this year’s championship. We have worked with Rob, Nick and Tom in the past and together they make a fantastic team. We have been busy developing the cars over the winter, which will have new BMW turbocharged engines developed by Neil Brown Engineering. With the prospect of added horsepower and torque alongside our in-depth understanding of the BMW chassis we are expecting a very competitive season.”
We round off the article by admitting a small mistake in our last story regarding Ollie Jackson becoming the first driver to take to the track in 2012 yesterday at Thruxton. In fact this honour went to Tony Hughes from Speedworks who, unknown to Motorsport.com, was at the time testing his NGTC Toyota Avensis at Oulton Park and beat Jackson on the track by 2 hours!
AmD Tuning completed their test as the lone BTCC team out at Thruxton today (Wednesday) although Andrew Jordan was at the wheel of a Honda Integra as he waits for his Honda Civic to be built at the same test. Meanwhile at Brands Hatch Motorbase completed a low key first test in their turbo powered Ford Focus. For the past 3 seasons the team ran under the name of Airwaves Racing although the car today took park in a plain livery with the team not prepared to announce who was at the wheel.