James Cole will return to the BTCC this season at the wheel of a Motorbase Performance Ford.
The 29-year-old, who won a race at Rockingham last season at the wheel of a Team BMR Subaru Levorg, has replaced Mat Jackson in the Kent team’s line-up. Despite agreeing a deal, Motorbase Performance and Jackson “parted ways” two weeks ago.
Cole, a former British Formula Ford champion, has previously driven for Motorbase when he handled one of its Focus ST cars, although the team only took part in the latter part of the 2015 campaign while it developed its new car.
The Liverpool-based racer, who will line up alongside Tom Chilton in one of the two Shredded Wheat cars, joined Motorbase for a test session at the Parc Castelloli circuit in Spain last week. Sam Tordoff will drive a Team GardX Racing version of the Motorbase Ford.
Cole said: “It was like putting back on an old pair of gloves at the test. I thought it might take a while to get to grips with FWD again but I managed to get up to speed very quickly.
“The new RS gives me a lot more confidence to push early on and considering I haven’t been in FWD for a couple of years, I managed to get on the pace within a day which shows how much the car has moved on from the old ST.
“It’s also great to be back working with James Mundy, my engineer from [the Jamun team in] Formula Ford, it’s been 10 years since we last worked together so it feels like a homecoming.”
Team boss David Bartrum said: “James has done a very good job in the Subaru in the time he’s been away. He’s been on pole and won a race and has clearly raised his game and coming back to FWD may well suit him.”
2018 BTCC line-up so far
WSR BMW: Colin Turkington, Rob Collard, Andrew Jordan
Team Dynamics Honda: Matt Neal, Dan Cammish
Team BMR Subaru: Ash Sutton, Jason Plato
Speedworks Motorsport Toyota: Tom Ingram
Eurotech Racing Honda: Jack Goff, Brett Smith, Matt Simpson
Motorbase Performance Ford: Tom Chilton, Sam Tordoff, James Cole
Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall: Josh Cook, Senna Proctor
Ciceley Racing Mercedes: Adam Morgan, Tom Oliphant
HMS Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta: Rob Austin
BTC Norlin Honda: Chris Smiley, James Nash
Laser Tools Racing Mercedes: Aiden Moffat
Team Hard Volkswagen: Jake Hill, Mike Bushell, Michael Caine, Bobby Thompson
AmD Tuning Audi: Ollie Jackson, Sam Smelt
AmD Tuning MG: Tom Boardman
Team Parker Racing BMW: Stephen Jelley