Tom Onslow-Cole has reluctantly stepped back from his racing activities with the Team HARD VW Passat as the team seeks to bring the car up to full competitiveness for 2014.

Despite having found the podium in 2013, team and driver took the decision that its budget would be better utilised in development of the car, having started the season with the Passat still very much untested.

"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," TO-C admitted, "Ideally, we needed to have had a full testing programme but, of course, the car was brand new on the eve of the season, so it's important that it is completely ready for the start of next year.

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"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.

"I would like to thank Tony and everyone at Team HARD for what they've achieved so far this season and hopefully the team will produce the tools to fight at the front on a consistent basis next year. Obviously, this turn of events negates our long-term deal and puts me in a position where I need to reassess my future in the BTCC. Hopefully, we can look at the situation when the dust has settled and the team's plans for 2014 are clear."

Team boss Tony Gilham confirmed that the decision had not been an easy one to take, but that the focus had to be very much on next season.

"It's a 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 championship assault in 2014," he explained, "We believe in the car and it has obviously scored podiums already this season."

Gilham confirmed that, despite Onslow-Cole being stood down, the Passat would continue to see track action for the remainder of the season.

"The car will still be utilised on race weekends for us to further develop some of our young VW Cup drivers, with more details coming on that soon," he revealed, "We need to be able to invest in putting the car through an extensive winter testing programme that we believe will ensure the Passat can fight consistently at the front at all circuits next season."

Gilham also confirmed that, after a brief sabbatical during the BTCC's visit to Knockhill, Jack Goff would return for the final three rounds of the season, behind the wheel of the Team HARD-run Vauxhall Insignia.

"It's great to have Jack back in the car," Gilham said, "It was a tough decision for everyone to miss Knockhill, but we completely believe in his talent and long term future with both the team and in the BTCC."

The reigning Renault Clio Cup UK champion has shown flashes of impressive speed during his maiden BTCC campaign with clear progress being made throughout the season, and the 24-year old shot to prominence by setting the third fastest time - only beaten by the two factory MGs - during the BTCC's Dunlop tyre test at Snetterton in July.

"I think it was Snetterton before we really felt like we were up to speed," Goff admitted, "The two-day tyre test before the event was absolutely huge for us as a team, and for me personally, as it was the first time I was able to spend that sort of time in the car. The fact that I was slightly disappointed to only qualify eighth there shows the kind of progress we'd made.

"Missing Knockhill was quite hard to take, but we had to make a sensible decision that would enable us to complete the last three events of the season. It was difficult seeing someone else driving the car to be honest, but I'm back now and I'm raring to go!"