Tom Onslow-Cole continued Team Aon's strong run of form in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at the first of three races held on Oulton Park's Island circuit.
The statistics will show the Surrey based driver took a lights-to-flag to victory around the Cheshire track, having started from pole, but in reality it was so much more.
Onlsow-Cole was able to see off the inevitable first corner challenge from the Honda Civic of Gordon Sheddon who had started alongside him on the front row of the grid, and was pulled a lead of over a second ahead of the Scotsman over the opening lap.
Behind the pair of Silverline backed Chevrolet Cruzes were noticeably struggling. Having started behind both of them in sixth Rob Collard was past both Alex MacDowall and Jason Plato to leave the teammates nose to tail and occasionally threatenting to take each other out around the island hairpin as MacDowall was under pressure from Tom Chilton, aiming to avenge his exclusion from a race win at Brands Hatch, over a month ago.
The pressure would get worse when the safety car called out after Matt Hamilton older-style Civic found itself stranded on the outside of Knickerbrook, the student/racer coming out worst in a game of Touring Car pinball with Shaun Hollamby and the Forster Motorsports BMWs as the battle turned out of the chicane and headed up the hill.
On the restart Chilton harried MacDowall, stalking him down the hill from Old Hall before trying to force a move around the outside of the left-handed Cascades. It was a move that stood little chance of working, and the Cruze was able to maintain the normal line, forcing Chilton to dip his right hand side wheels onto the grass – it was all the invitation the Mat Jackson in his Airwaves BMW needed, dragging past Chilton and sweeping around ahead by the hairpin.
Where Chilton had struggled, Jackson made short work of MacDowall. Jackson cleanly took his BMW up the inside of the final 'real' corner – Lodge – avoiding any contact (how very un-BTCC) but succeeding pushing MacDowall wide, opening – nay, blowing off – the door for Chilton to finally pass the Chevrolet before he and Jackson could set their sites on Plato in fourth.
Ahead the battle for the lead had become a three horse race. After getting a good restart to pull out a lead both Sheddon and Collard had caught Onslow-Cole. Several times the Honda pushed the Focus around the hairpin, the front of the Dynamics-run car more and deranged every lap.
As the pattern developed the tow front-wheel-drive cars would follow each other, hugging the inside line, while Collard's rear-wheel-drive BMW would range up the outside, hoping to blast past one, or both, his rivals before the chicane. On the penultimate lap Collard looked like he may have passed Sheddon, pulling slightly ahead as the pair accelerated away from Island. However, on the outside for the tight fiddly chicane Collard had to give way, delaying his challenge until the exit of the chicane when Collard had to lock-up the BMW to avoid contact, sliding the car, losing momentum and all by handing Sheddon second, and Onslow-Cole the win, his second of the season, but his first on track, after he was the beneficiary of his teammate's penalty.
But the main talking point had happened behind, and a few laps earlier. Jackson had caught Plato, only be to caught behind the former champion's defensive driving, snuffing out moves at Old Hall, Lodge and Island. Naturally, therefore Jackson tried a move at the Cascades sweep, making a late lunge down the inside. What followed was a typical Oulton accident. Plato moved across and found Jacksons nose, forcing the Chevrolet sideways. Plato tried manfully to hold the sliding Chevy, and almost succeeded until he ran onto the grass, gathering up the slide, bouncing across the parkland and re-joining in what would eventually be tenth.
Oulton Park Race One Provisional Result
1. No.21 – Tom Onslow-Cole 17 laps in 26:23.471
2. No.52 – Gordon Sheddon +0.348
3. No.6 – Rob Collard +1.173
4. No.5 – Mat Jackson +2.097
5. No.23 – Tom Chilton +2.862
6. No.11 – Steven Kane+ 3.464
7. No.20 – Alex MacDowall +5.120
8. No.4 – Matt Neal +6.090
9. No.14 – James Nash +6.330
10. No.2 Jason Plato +11.629