AmD doubles up
AmDTuning.com is an outfit looking to push its operation up a notch for the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship as it expands to a two-car operation.
Driving those striking Audi S3s will be the returning Ollie Jackson, partnered by reigning Renault UK Clio Cup champion Ant Whorton-Eales – confirmed this week by buoyant team boss Shaun Hollamby.
“I’m very pleased with what we’ve done,” started Hollamby. “Ollie came on leaps and bounds last year, getting used to the Audi S3.
“The deal was done very late in the day for the previous campaign so he was thrown in the deep end, and I think he did very well given that.
“We’ve been planning the second Audi for a year and a half now with the shell ready to go. The key for me is to get young blood into the series and Ant Whorton-Eales was always on the radar.
“He was talking to other teams and I’m really keen to have someone young and enthusiastic like him. Plus, we can fight for the Jack Sears Trophy, which we won a few years back with Dave Newsham. I know we’ll be getting a feisty racer.”
Last year, a lack of testing hampered Jackson and AmD. At the mid-season Dunlop Tyre Test, the outfit uncovered a setup tweak that yielded some half-a-second – enough to throw them into the mix for points, in what is an incredibly competitive field, throughout the second half of 2016.
“We had Keith Cheetham join us, an engineer from our GT programme, and he found a few things on the car – particularly on dampers.
“It really made the car come alive. It didn’t take much, given the competitiveness of the BTCC, to fire us up the order. We found pieces on the car setup wise and with Ollie in the car without it being a race weekend situation, it made a difference.
“A bit more luck in the last couple of races and he’d have been top ten. At Rockingham, we were legitimately battling with Gordon Shedden – a guy fighting for the championship – it was great for us.”
Jackson himself is thrilled at the promise of continuity, having signed a new deal early – giving him a good amount of time in preparation for the Brands Hatch opener over the first weekend in April.
“It’s great for me to get some continuity in touring cars and what better place to get it,” said Jackson. “We all get on really well, it’s a nice atmosphere and we’ve got a fantastic car as well.
“It’s going to be massively competitive this year but we’ve prepared well as a team and I’ve never been as ready as I am now with the deal in place early. It’s the best chance we’ve had of getting some results.
“Now we’ve a second S3, It’s double the running time and development on the car. With someone as quick as Ant, it’s all going to be very valuable.”
As for new signing Whorton-Eales, it’s something of a dream come true to be racing in the BTCC – the top of the touring car tree.
“It’s going to be a really good year. It’s a good move for me and I’m in a great car. I’m looking to learn from Ollie and overlay data to push the cars up the grid.
“It’s been a dream for years. Five years in the Clios did feel like a really long time and to win that championship last year made it feel like the perfect time to move on.
“It’s always been touring cars for me – I’ve never been interested in anything else.
“I knew the car was available and we managed to come to an agreement with Shaun [Hollamby]. I’m thankful to Stewart Lines for pushing me and getting my name out there too. I’m hoping to get dialed into the car and straight into it.”