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Tom Onslow-Cole leaves Team HARD

Tom Onslow-Cole will not drive for Tony Gilham’s Team HARD outfit for the Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch weekends after he and the team parted ways after Knockhill.

“It’s another difficult decision that we’ve had to make, but we just feel that our investment in Tom would be better spent on making sure the car is moving forward ahead of a real assault in 2014,” explained Tony Gilham, former racer and Team HARD Team Principal.

Having secured a trio of podium finishes in the season, with a best result of the season coming at Thruxton where the seven times BTCC race winner finished second – the Team HARD outfit feel that they are suffering as they have to test on a race weekend.

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“When you look at the project we’ve had a great first season with the VW Passat,” said Onslow-Cole. “To score podiums in one of the first events of the season was great, but it has been tough to develop the car over race weekends. Ideally we needed to have had a full testing programme but of course the car was brand new on the eve of the season.”

Despite Onslow-Cole sitting out the final three weekends of the campaign, Gilham confirmed that the NGTC VW Passat CC would still be on the grid.

“We believe in the car and it has obviously scored podiums already this season,” explained Gilham. “The car will still be utilised on race weekends for us to develop some of our young VW Cup drivers, with more details coming on that soon, but we need to be able to put Tom through an extensive winter testing programme that we believe will ensure the Passat can fight consistently at the front at all circuits.”

Onslow-Cole confirmed that he could have finished the campaign but then the budget wouldn’t have stretched to cover a full pre season testing campaign ready for the 2014 campaign.

“Financially we could finish the season, but then not have the backing we believe is needed in order to test the car significantly over the winter,” added Onslow-Cole. “I’m a racer so it’s always tough to make a decision that means we won’t be racing for the rest of the year, but if it gives both the team and I the best possible chance of winning in 2014 then it has to be the right decision.”

Having signed a long term deal with Onslow-Cole at the beginning of the 2013 campaign, Gilham believes that withdrawing is the right decision to allow the maximum amount of time to develop the Passat CC.

“We have a three year deal with Tom, which is a long-term relationship in the BTCC, so it’s the right time to make a decision that we believe will give him the chance to fight for a title next season and beyond,” Gilham concluded.

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