Tom Onslow Cole. Brands Hatch Final Race Report
With the BTCC season now done and dusted it was the perfect time to catch up with our very own star of the grid, Tom Onslow-Cole, to see how his final weekend of the season went. Despite some biblically bad weather, our man was looking pretty quick throughout!
Tom: Well, that was a much more positive weekend all round, and it was a great way to round off the season. Prior to the final, we’d already had a great test session at Brands with the Airwaves team, and although we still had work to do, we were all feeling much more confident about what we could make the car do. Even though the forecast looked grim, we knew that the car works well in either wet or dry conditions, so we felt we could handle it, whatever the weather decided! It’s an easy thing to drive, so although the two free-practise sessions weren’t fully conclusive, we felt good going into the first qually session.
I really went for it in Qually, which was a dry session, but once again, the times were so condensed, even a fully ‘on it’ drive only saw me get 7th, but within minute fractions of 4th. That’s how close that spread was! I love the GP circuit, and the extra grip you get out on the loop really suited us and allowed us to really carry some speed. They felt like good times when I did them, and I hoped that I could translate that into race pace on Sunday. I knew it was going to be wet, but we all resigned ourselves to that fact and cracked on anyway!
Race 1 saw me do most of the work at the start. They car hooked up beautifully off the line, so I managed to sneak a few places very early on, staying out of trouble with the BMWs as I did so! I started chasing Andy Jordan down, and managed to get past him, and for a while it looked like 3rd was distinctly possible. But, I was taking risks at every corner, just to keep up with the pace, which seemed silly with two more races left in the day. I took the decision to keep things on the level and settle for 4th and some decent points. It was great to be the 1st Airwaves car home too!
Race 2 started similarly well, but I ended up falling back down the ranks after a fairly hefty hit into me in Turn 1. Although the drivetrain on the Focus was OK, the geometry has been knocked right out, with masses of undesirable toe-out. The result was a car that really didn’t want to turn all that much, and a series of frustrating laps as I wrestled it around. I managed to keep wit the pack a little though, so was pleased with a 9th at the end of it all.
The final race of the day saw some similar altercations at the start, and the poor old Focus was taking a real kicking in the first few corners. This knocked the geo out again, and although it wasn’t anything like as bad as the 2nd race, it still turned my usually benign Ford into a bit of a pig! It wouldn’t go anywhere near where I was pointing it, which made for some interesting progress. The result was a 13th overall.
Overall though, it was a great weekend and a lovely way to finish the season with my new team. I’ve really enjoyed my time with Airwaves, and they have really looked after me, so although it’s all still open and up for discussion next season, it would be nice to keep things consistent and on an even keel. There are a few irons in the fire, so as soon as I know, you will too!
Finally, I really want to congratulate Andy Jordan on a really worthy and welcome title for 2013. He’s a great guy, a really good driver and he and his team have worked hard to take that crown. Keep that trophy polished mate! I’ll see if I can take it off you next year!