James Cole switches to the BTCC with Tony Gilham's team

Single-seater racer James Cole will switch to the British Touring Car Championship this season, driving one of Tony Gilham's Vauxhall Insignias

Cole won the British Formula Ford title in 2009 before graduating to British Formula 3 and then Formula 2.

The 24-year-old did not race last season, but will return in an NGTC Insignia, alongside Gilham's other BTCC rookie Jack Goff.

Cole, who is also involved in a new road-safety initiative set to be launched later this month, said: "I've always been a big fan of touring car racing, so when the chance to move into the series was presented, it was a very easy decision to make.

"With its media coverage in the UK, the BTCC provides the perfect platform for my ambitions with the new initiative."

Cole believes Gilham's squad, which will again run under the Team HARD banner, will be competitive.

"As a race driver Tony understands my goals and how we can work together to achieve the racing results I'll be out to get, and as a team owner he is acutely aware of the commercial requirements I'm looking for to successfully launch a major road-safety campaign," added the former McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Award finalist.

"With Tom Onslow-Cole and Jack Goff already announced, Tony is putting together a very strong driver line-up and I think the team will be a force to be reckoned with."

Gilham said: "I'm very impressed with the plans James has for next season, both on-track and off-track.

"He proved to be very competitive and skillful driver in single-seaters and I think he'll quickly find his feet in the BTCC.

"He's a smart young guy, who is obviously hard-working so I've no doubt he'll be putting everything into making sure he's on the pace and holding his own in the 'lion's den' of the BTCC grid."

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