Reigning UK Formula Ford champion James Cole has sealed a deal to step up to the British F3 series this season, inking a contract to drive one of T-Sport's Dallara-Mugens in the National Class.

The 21-year old Merseysider opted to compete in the secondary class as he continues his racing education and lays the foundations for what he hopes will be a professional career in the sport.

Having already sampled a National Class car with a run-out at the end of last season, Cole began testing in earnest with his new team at Wednesday's group test at Snetterton, posting the second-fastest time in class behind T-Sport team-mate Menasheh Idafar as he began his acclimatisation to the slicks and wings category.

"I'm itching to get back in a race car and I'm delighted we've concluded a deal with T-Sport, as I have tremendous respect for the team and believe we will be a winning partnership," Cole commented, "I've done my foundation work in Formula Ford and it's now time to move up a gear, with a faster, more powerful car. Adding in aerodynamics and a higher level of competition gives me the next challenge on my motor racing career path and I'm ready to continue my education behind the wheel with proven race winners, T-Sport."

After a stellar year, in which he came close to dominating British Formula Ford, Cole was eventually crowned champion with seven wins, 15 podiums, five pole positions and six fastest laps to his name. That performance led to him being one of the six finalists in the 2009 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year competition eventually won by Formula Renault champion Dean Smith. However, the decision to contest F3 at National level means that Cole will retain eligibility for the prestigious award in 2010.

"Standing out from the crowd is getting more difficult as there are so many different race series," he noted, "It's not just winning that counts, it's being recognised by the industry as a talented driver. Being able to have another crack at winning the Young Driver award is important to me and could be very influential for my future career."

Cole's motor racing success has forced him to put another passion on the back burner. An accomplished musician, the young racer has been studying at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, but his commitment to racing has led to him taking a sabbatical from the college.

"I love motor racing and music, but found that I couldn't give 100 per cent to both, so something had to go," he explained, "I know that music will always be in my life one way or another, but you only get one shot at making it in racing, so I'm focusing completely on this now. But don't be surprised if you hear guitar riffs drifting out from the car transporter during the season, it will just be me trying to relax in the down time between races!"


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