Tom Onslow-Cole wants to continue fighting for podiums when the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship makes the long trip to Knockhill this weekend.
The eBay Motors BMW man notched up podiums in the third races at Croft and Snetterton either side of the summer break, making the most of the reverse grid format, and concedes it can be tough sometimes for the team to battle at the front.
Onslow-Cole and teammate Rob Collard have regularly been the lead S2000 outfit this season, the BMW 320si’s especially impressive handling proving a formidable challenger against the NGTC motors, and the 25-year-old hopes the turbo equalisation balances will swing back their way at Knockhill.
“The thing is we’re just trying to screw 110% out of it and that’s still the case after Snetterton,” he told theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. “We did have a pretty good weekend because we got on the podium but you can’t forget it was a race three podium and they are easier!
“We still haven’t got the outright pace to fight for podiums but I think the equalisation will come back our way after our lap times were down all weekend. Really the car is capable handling wise of being at the front it was really just down because of the equalisation after two strong rounds at Croft and Oulton Park.”
The debut of the Redstone Racing NGTC Ford Focus ST turned plenty of heads at Snetterton as teams and drivers begin to look to 2013, and plans for next season are something Onslow-Cole is eager to finalise.
“It’s not clear-cut at all [next season] and more than anyone I really want to know what’s going on,” he said. ”I really hope they find the budget really or the commitment from the manufacturer to go with the NGTC and I can stay with the team.
“Not the BMWs we have,” he said when asked if the BMW is a realistic option for NGTC. “The roll-cages are different – you’d really have to rip it to pieces and start it again, it would be a pretty pointless exercise. We’d be better off starting again from new but it is a big project to take on. As you can see with the Honda they were out at the end of last year and that put them in great stead for this year.
After the drama of three action-packed races last time out, question marks were once more raised over driving standards within the championship. Though the BTCC is known for its hard, cut-and-thrust racing, Onslow-Cole believes it is unfair to label it a contact sport.
“I think Snetterton is a track where overtaking is very difficult so you have to make the most of the opportunities you get and go with 100% commitment,” he remarked, “and sometimes that results in a bit of contact. There is a mutual understanding amongst the field that…well, rubbing’s racing!
“The guys at the front are all very happy to run close to each other without animosity – sometimes people take that a bit further and that’s not in the spirit of what we’re doing, but generally the field is very good.”