Tom Onslow-Cole on Pole in Brands Hatch Thriller
Submitted on October 20th 2012 17:03 by Michael Passingham.
Tom Onslow-Cole has taken pole position in a dramatic and unpredictable final qualifying session for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch in Kent. Championship contender Andrew Jordan managed to take second, with a lap just 0.088s slower than that of Onslow-Cole. Pole was won in the dying seconds of the session: Jordan had snatched provisional pole from the Onslow-Cole, but it was only fleeting as “TOC” dramatically stole it back moments later. All of this happened just seconds after Jason Plato beached his car in the Paddock gravel trap.
The session was punctuated by a red flag caused by a spin for Team ES Racing’s Chris James ten minutes into the qualifying half-hour. James had spun his S2000 Vauxhall Vectra at Surtees and had ended up buried in the deep gravel trap on the outside of the left-hander. However, quick work by the marshals meant the session was back under way within three minutes. From then-on the time sheet was constantly changing, with conditions the best they had been all day and all of the drivers on top form.
There were problems too for Frank Wrathall who, both before and after the red flag, had some unwanted attention from the TV cameras around the track; there were plumes of acrid smoke pouring from his exhaust pipes, shrouding the Grand Prix circuit in a white mist. The Toyota driver finished the session with the 14th fastest time.
Matt Neal, who finished the session third, never looked as if he would take pole; his car, complete with 27kg of success ballast just didn’t have the pace to compete with the BMW and Pirtek Honda ahead of him.
In fourth position was Rob Collard. The eBay BMW driver had shown good pace throughout practice, and set a time late on in the session to claim his spot on the second row of the grid.
Jason Plato, driving the KX Momentum MG 6GT, could only manage fifth. The combination of 36kg of ballast and a dramatic spin into the Paddock gravel trap on his final flying lap sealed his fate, and starting on the outside of the third row was all he could hope for.
Adam Morgan impressed again in his Toyota Avensis, finishing the session sixth.
Championship leader Gordon Shedden, with maximum ballast on-board, could only manage 7th – he is the last of the championship contenders on the grid and is in a vulnerable position in terms of first-lap incidents.
Next up was BTCC debutant Aaron Williamson’s Team HARD Honda Civic. Williamson, 20, has been racing in the AirAsia Renault Clio Cup this year and set a time 0.737 slower than that of Tom Onslow-Cole.
Mat Jackson finished the session in 9th, with Dave Newsham, who suffered a similar spin to his team-mate and team manager Chris James, in 10th.
Jason Plato’s MG team-mate Andy Neate had a strange incident towards the end of the session, spinning at the exit of Clearways. With some plastic barriers attached to the front of his car, he had to drive twenty metres in the wrong direction to make it back into the pit lane.
The top thirteen on the grid are covered by less than a second in terms of qualifying times.
For the full list of qualifiers, please click here.
Racing gets under way at 11:20 tomorrow. BTCC fans can enjoy the action with an 8-hour marathon of coverage on ITV4 , as well as live updates from BTCC Crazy’s Live Twitter account: BTCCCrazyLive.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Hobley