Tom Onslow-Cole BTCC Race Report. Round 6: Snetterton
Evidently getting a real taste for life on the podium, our resident BTCC ace Tom Onslow-Cole recants his tales of derring-do from a successful weekend at Snetterton, with some great results and a 2nd for his efforts!
Tom – you’ve done it again.. Talk us through the weekend. Anything new to report?
Well, yes actually! The eBay Motors team have been a busy bunch since our last round; mainly looking at changes we can make to the ramp angle on the diff, to keep the car more stable through the corners and help to look after the tyres a little better. We’ve been trying to get our tyre wear closer to the NGTC cars all season, and I think we’re starting to make progress now. During the practise sessions, we were getting the same lap times as the previous set-up, but we were seeing much less wear. In fact, the set we tried in the second ‘after’ session looked like they could go again!
This certainly helped in Qually, where it felt like everything hooked up perfectly. One of my best sessions in a long time. One of my quick times was docked for ‘exceeding track limits’ – although I’m still not quite sure where I was supposed to have done that! Checking the data, we are still struggling for straight line speed compared to some of the other cars, mainly due to the equalisation regs, which mean we are now down some 0.125 bar on boost pressure.
What do you think of the new regs? They have been in your favour before, but this time, they were acting as a disadvantage...
I do think this is a great development in BTCC; it’s ultimately going to make it more competitive and better entertainment – but I think the increments should be smaller. An eight of a bar is a big drop in ultimate power. That said, the car felt very good and the tyres were clearly wearing at a much better rate - comparable really to the NGTC cars in the same session from what we could see.
Race 1 started well, before I dropped back – and then went forward again. I powered past Lee Wood and began to chase down the NGTC cars with some decent pace. It was interesting to note that while they clearly have the pace in the first half or two thirds of the race, we seem to be able to keep a more consistent pace in the later third, so if I stay in contention early on, we can remain competitive until the very end. All in all, it was a pretty drama-free race and I was happy enough with my 6th spot.
Race 2 was much hotter, so we opted to run with a slightly softer anti-roll bar setting. From 6th I quickly made it up to 4th, before dropping back to 6th again! I didn’t have the pace to chase down Neal or Wrathall to begin with, being driven round the outside of more than once! Later in the race, I began to chase Frank down, but he made a bit of a mistake and I got fired off. With minor damage and a bent rim I had to limp the final half lap of the race to get over the line, so a 7th felt like a pretty decent finish.
Race 3 started with a reverse grid, where I started in 3rd place. I got a great start and got quickly into 2nd , before our lack of straight-line pace saw me drop down to 5th. I knew that the car would come good later in the race, so I concentrated on keeping my pace and staying in contention. I managed to see off Flash and the Jackson and began to chase Wood. After a good tussle, he seemed to be suffering from gearbox issues, meaning I could pass him to try and work on the job of trying to catch Dave Newsham’s Vectra. I got within 9/10ths by the end of the race, but sadly I couldn’t quite pass him. Still, it was a great meeting for points and podiums.
As ever, I would like to thank the team for their sterling efforts. I feel the car is really developing now and I’m feeling really confident for Knockhill.
Going into the next round at Knockhill in Scotland on the 25/26th August, Tom has risen to 7th in the BTCC driver standings with 161 points, just 9 points behind Mat Jackson. Can Tom climb even further...one thing's for sure, there'll be some great racing...