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United Kingdom FlagTom Onslow-Cole: Round 6 Race Report from Snetterton

BTCC Round 6 Snetterton Report: click to enlargeTime to catch up with a battle-worn Tom Onslow-Cole as he reflected on a ‘trying and difficult’ weekend at the power-house friendly circuit of Snetterton.

After the last few race results, where the car had been performing very well - particularly when you remember where it is on its development curve - the whole team was looking forward to Snetterton. We had experienced a mysterious oversteer issue in our last test outing, but we hoped to use the two free practise sessions to try and get to the bottom of it. When we arrived, and during FP1, the CC was still quite unbalanced at the rear, so we used the intervening time between the practise sessions to dial out what we could. FP1 was used merely to scrub tyres and bed brakes, but FP2 showed us that, although we had made progress, the car was still very skittish at the back end. We had done what we could, so the rest would just be down to me driving around it – but it did mean fighting a very tail happy car all weekend!

The Qually session proved to be interesting as I was obviously pushing on, and the car very much wanted to do its own thing. This meant a few unplanned trips into the field on the outside of Riches on more than one occasion! It was also going from neutral to snap oversteer on long sweeping corners like Corum, which meant one second you felt you were totally on it, and the next, you were fully on the lock stops and trying to sort it all out. Testing times! Ultimately I managed to get 14th in a session that was very tight. Another 3/10ths faster and we would have been 6th! The CC’s straight line speed was OK, but on a track with the straights of Snetterton, it’s clear that we don’t quite have the ultimate pace of the majority of the pack. We’re on max boost, so we still have a little to do.

Race 1 was still a case of fighting the car’s instability, so it was tricky to push really hard, as it would have been so easy to lose the car and a ton of places into the bargain. The techs traced the fault to a front end issue, but we never really bottomed it out. I managed to have a great door-to-door battle with Rob Austen for a couple of laps. It felt great to be in the mix for a while, resulting in a 12th overall.

By Race 2 we had managed to make a few a geometry changes, which seemed to have a positive effect on the car. Our target for Race 2 was a top ten finish, which we did achieve, but only after a few people fell off! It was the result we wanted, but not achieved in the way we wanted to get it!

Race 3 gave me a good start, and I was hoping to make some progress. The problems started in the hairpin though, as it turned into a veritable crash-fest! I was shunted from behind, causing me to hit Jordan, who then hit Neal. A proper shunt-train! It had obviously upset the CC though, as oil and water temps started to go through the roof, so that, coupled with a hefty shunt from Tordoff that knocked all of the rear geometry out of kilter, pretty much finished me off! I was just concentrating on bringing it home in one piece, it was almost impossible to drive it quickly, so 17th was about right, really!

In all it was a very trying and testing weekend. It’s overdue though! We’ve had a lot of good luck with the development of this car, so a small set-back was probably on the cards. We’ve got no testing planned before the next outing, so there will be plenty of number crunching and data analysis to try and find out what’s going on. It’s all about the theory for the next few weeks!

Catch Tom in action – hopefully in a better behaving car – at Knockhill on the 25th August!