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BTCC 2011 – Who Else Starred?

Part two of the TouringCars.Net Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship for 2011 sees other drivers’ reviewed, whether it was their debut season or their tenth campaign.

In total, the 2011 campaign saw fifteen drivers make their debuts, whether as a one off entry or a season long campaign. Out of those fifteen rookies, three secured podium finishes while nine scored a point, and nearly all of them made an instant impression with the trackside crowd or the internet forum fans.

Rookie of the Season: Nick Foster – WSR.

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Nick Foster is the 2011 BTCC rookie for his performances in the normally aspirated BMW 320si, up against the turbocharged field.

In his maiden season, he secured a popular podium finish in the final race at Croft as well as a pair of reverse grid Pole Positions, and didn’t look out of place in the BTCC.

His experience of the Bear Wheel Drive BMW proved useful – having spent the vast majority of his career racing rear wheel drive cars, and before moving into the BTCC with WSR, he had been racing a BMW M3 for Geoff Steel Racing in the GT Cup.

Foster finished the season as the second highest rookie in the Championship and he deserves another chance at the big time, in newer machinery.

Season Summary:

Championship: 14th, 47 Points
0 Pole Positions, 0 Wins, 0 Fastest Laps

Surprise of the Season: Rob Austin – Rob Austin Racing

Rob Austin redefined the word cool as the season went on and his flamboyant driving style meant that more and more people joined his band wagon – in a car, which at the start of the season at Brands Hatch, in the hands of David Pinkney, wasn’t even completed.

He showed the speed of the NGTC Audi A4 in the second half of the season, and in the process became the first full NGTC driver to set a fastest lap of the race, during the second race at Snetterton.

He secured a podium at Rockingham in the final race and could have had more, had it not been for car problems or being punted off the circuit – Austin could have won a race as well in the A4.

Season Summary:

Championship Position: 16th, 26 Points
0 Pole Positions, 0 Wins, 1 Fastest Lap.

Most Improved Driver of the Season: James Nash – Triple Eight with Collins Contractors’

James Nash returned to Triple Eight with Collins Contractors’ for a second season – having joined the former Champions at Rockingham last season.

The full campaign helped Nash improve as a driver – out went the silly mistakes and in came a consistent, mature approach to things, as was proven after Donington Park. Having finished the first six races consistently, Nash was leading the outright Championship.

He secured a single victory but throughout the season, he was hardly in trouble and it was this which brought him the 2011 Independents’ title in his first full season in the BTCC.

Season Summary:

Championship Position: 5th, 191 Points
0 Pole Positions, 1 Win, 1 Fastest Lap.

Disappointment of the Season: Tom Onslow-Cole – AmD Milltek Aon

Tom Onslow-Cole caused a stir when it was announced that he had joined the AmD Milltek team for the 2011 campaign, having lost his drive at Team Aon.

In the Volkswagen Golf, Onslow-Cole started to become a giant killer – having scored the first points for the team at Donington Park before leading for a few metres in the following race.

Thruxton saw him secure the team’s best qualifying result as he finished sixth fastest in the session – and converted that result into a brace of top ten finishes – which could be the team’s final points of the season.

Just before the third Oulton Park race, it was announced that Onslow-Cole had split with the team and the following day, it was confirmed he had rejoined Team Aon.

Once back at Team Aon, Onslow-Cole struggled at first bu8t finished his season on a high as his form recovered and he secured a couple of podium finishes – but overall, a disappointing season for one of the 2010 Championship contenders.

Season Summary:

13th, 61 Points
0 Pole Positions, 0 Wins, 0 Fastest Laps

Unluckiest Driver of the Season: Tony Gilham – Triple Eight with Collins Contractors/Geoff Steel Racing

Tony Gilham was all set for a strong maiden season in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, having signed with Triple Eight Race Engineering to drive one of their turbocharged Vauxhall Vectras.

Just before Brands Hatch however, disaster struck as a key sponsor dropped out, meaning that Gilham was down to a shoestring budget and doubtful for every weekend.

He had a promising showing at Brands Hatch, securing three top three finishes and Donington Park also proved that he could have been in for a good season.

As the finances got tighter and tighter, Gilham’s form went downhill – as he couldn’t use new tyres for any testing, so he was unable to get the maximum out of the car.

It was announced that Gilham would stand down from the team after Snetterton, after the finances run completely dry but he was back out for the eighth weekend of the season at Rockingham, racing the normally aspirated BMW 320si of Geoff Steel Racing. He finished the season with the team, driving their turbocharged BMW 320si in the season finale.

A case of being unlucky in your debut season for Gilham, who will have a future career within the BTCC – his bright colour schemes will ensure he has the fans.

Season Summary:

19th, 12 Points
0 Pole Positions, 0 Wins, 0 Fastest Laps

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