Interview : One small car, one big aim
Tue 1st February 2011 In 2011, Shaun Hollamby and the AmD Milltek Racing team will join forces with YourRacingCar.com, giving fans the chance to get behind the independent VW Golf.
By Matt Salisbury
One of the success stories of the 2010 BTCC season was debuting team AmD Milltek Racing, which brought the Volkswagen name back into the series and secured a new legion of fans with its open approach through the course of the year.
That openness will only increase this year as the team embarks on a full year in partnership with YourRacingCar.com, which will see BTCC fans get more involved with the AmD programme through the initiative that has run to great success in the Ginetta G50 Championship and Renault Clio Cup in recent years.
The partnership between AmD and YourRacingCar started on Finals Day last season and has been embraced by fans over the course of the winter, with the lure of featuring on the revised Volkswagen Golf to be campaigned by Shaun Hollamby – and a range of perks offered to those signing up to the scheme – meaning race fans have been signing up in their droves for the year ahead.
With fan power to drive the team forwards, hopes are high for a successful campaign for the team which will replace the down on power engine it used last year with a new NGTC-spec unit for the new season.
That engine should give the Golf between 40 and 50 horsepower extra and allow Hollamby to challenge in the midfield at least, but given competition from the likes of Honda, Chevrolet and Airwaves Racing, all of whom have vastly superior budgets, is fighting for a place in the top ten a realistic aim?
"We want to be in the top ten consistently and that is an achievable target for us," Hollamby explains. "Its going to take a lot of hard work, and I wouldn't say that it will be easy as there are cars on the grid like the Chevrolet and the Honda that we shouldn't be anywhere near. However, we had one of the best handling cars on the grid last year and with a little more power from the new engine, I have a feeling that this little car could cause a few surprises."
If that is indeed the case, then those fans who have signed up to support the YRC initiative will have played a part in helping the team to break into the points for the first time and Hollamby insists that their support cannot be underestimated.
"When we first joined the BTCC, we wanted the whole project to be inclusive and something that people could be involved with," he said. "It was a real privilege to be voted as the Fans Favourite last year and to then announce that Hannah from YourRacingCar wanted us to be involved with them for 2011 was great news.
"At heart, I am a racing fan, so I can see where people are coming from when they want to be involve in motorsport. This is about the cheapest and most inclusive way that people can do that as who else can say that they have their picture on one of the cars in one of the world's leading motor racing series?
"Every £25 helps so we are really pleased with the way in which people have embraced what we are doing. People power is helping to get this car onto the grid."
Like a number of rival teams, AmD Milltek Racing plans to use the 2011 season as a transitional year as the BTCC moves towards the introduction of the Next Generation Touring Car rules, with the decision to fit the NGTC engine to an existing Super 2000 chassis.
However, such a move will be dependent on finding the money to fund an NGTC programme, making a strong season for the fan funded team vital this year.
"NGTC is the future of British Touring Cars," Hollamby said. "Alan Gow and TOCA normally get it right and that is where we are aiming to go. We are a small team so we need to prove ourselves and this year, I feel we have a good package to get ourselves closer to the front and show sponsors what we can do.
"Motorsport isn't cheap but what TOCA have put together will make it easier for a small team like ours to fight closer to the front of the field. The BTCC is an expensive series to run in, but you are in a prestigious championship that everyone knows. You don't need to tell prospective sponsors about British Touring Car as everyone knows what it is, and that makes it easier to sell."
For more information on the YRC Membership scheme visit www.YourRacingCar.com.