A new British rallycross star emerged today (21 May) as Tom Onslow-Cole won the inaugural RX Talent Search in a 12-way shootout at Lydden Hill, winning a prize drive in RX Lites at Istanbul.
The initiative was a joint venture between the MSA, IMG (promoter of the FIA World Rallycross Championship) and FirstCorner (the company behind RX Lites). The Olsbergs MSE team provided a pair of cars, while Lydden Hill – the Home of Rallycross – lent further support.
The dozen finalists were drawn from 122 applications from MSA Competition Licence holders aged 18 to 30, representing various disciplines such as circuit racing and stage rallying, as well as rallycross. They each enjoyed a pair of four-lap runs on the mile-long Kent track with engineer feedback, plus an interview with the judges.
Four drivers – Onslow-Cole; Sennan Fielding; Chris Ingram; Dan Rooke – were then chosen for a second interview before a jubilant Onslow-Cole was crowned the winner. He will now make his RX Lites class debut at the World RX of Turkey.
Onslow-Cole, a sports car racer and former BTCC race winner, said: “It’s important to have a positive attitude so I woke up this morning hoping it would be my day, although I definitely wasn’t expecting it. Not only is the prize fantastic but to come here and be pitched against what the RX Talent Search deemed to be the best talent in the UK and come out on top is a nice confidence boost. I think the whole initiative is fantastic and I’d like to thank everyone involved in putting it together; I hope to do them all proud in Istanbul.”
The expert judging panel comprised: Robert Reid; MSA Performance Director; Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG; Andreas Eriksson, Olsbergs MSE Team Principal; Andrew Jordan, BTCC racer who finished third in the 2014 World RX of Great Britain; and Matt James, Deputy Editor of Motorsport News.
Reid, who heads up both the MSA Academy and FIA Young Driver Excellence Academy talent development programmes, said: “Rallycross is a growing sport and it was fantastic to see drivers from so many different disciplines experience an RX Lites car. The final decision was incredibly tough, highlighted by the fact we had to increase the top three to four for the final interview. Tom is a deserving winner and will do a great job of representing both the MSA and World RX in Turkey. This opportunity has hopefully highlighted to lots of drivers that rallycross is a viable career option for them to consider.”
Anayi, the man behind World RX’s exponential growth, said: “The most amazing thing we have seen today is the array of drivers, representing the best bits of motor sort. We want to create a genuine career path for drivers from an early age and a viable option to become a world champion. The drivers today didn’t all know that rallycross could give them that chance, so hopefully we’ve opened their eyes and shown them what our sport can offer.”
The finalists were:
Dan Cammish (2015 Porsche Carerra Cup GB; 2013 Formula Ford GB Champion)
Jack Clarke (FIA Formula Two race winner; 2014 BTCC)
Sennan Fielding (2015 MSA Formula; 2013 RSF MSA Young Driver of the Year)
Freddie Hunt (2015 Renault Clio Cup; son of 1976 F1 champion James Hunt)
Chris Ingram (2015 European Rally Championship; MSA Team UK)
Tom Onslow-Cole (2015 sports cars; BTCC race winner)
Ben Power (multiple winner in National Legends Car Championship)
Jason Pritchard (class winner in British Rally Championship; MSA Rally Elite graduate)
Dan Rooke (2015 British Rallycross Championship Super-national class winner)
Rupert Svendsen-Cook (British F3 race winner)
Jake Taylor (2015 Swift Sport Rallycross Championship; MSA Academy)
Euan Thorburn (2014 Scottish Rally Champion; 2013 BTRDA Rally Champion).
All the finalists and the other 110 applicants have been invited back to Lydden Hill this weekend (23-24 May) for the Motorsport News World RX of Great Britain, which is expected to draw a capacity crowd to witness the world’s top rallycross competitors in action.