Silverstone BTCC Race Three: Onslow-Cole’s Reward

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The third British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) of the day got underway with a bang when Alex MacDowall stalled his Chevrolet Cruze at the start where he was run into by Martin Depper in his Forster Motorsport BMW.

The resulting debris field, oil slick and location of Depper's wrecked car – just off to the left hand side of the start/finish straight – called out the safety car, though not before Jason Plato had been tipped into a spin at Copse by Matt Neal. Neal half spun himself and amid all the confusion the two Ford Focuses had leapt into second and third, Tom Onslow-Cole and Tom Chilton now behind pole sitter Paul O'Neill.

Rob Collard had risen one place to fourth with the Airwaves cars of Steven Kane and Mat Jackson now ahead of Neal who had righted his car in time to claim seventh place.

Given the previous two races Paul O'Neill could have found few worse drivers to have to hold off on the restart, but initially he did, aided by the line astern nature of the restart as drivers sought to avoid the swathe of cement dust laid down to dry up the fluids that had left Depper's ride.

However, within only a few laps Onslow-Cole was through into the lead and pulling away. He had pushed O'Neill just enough around Luffield to pull to his inside along the pit straight and complete the move turning into Copse, though O'Neill would continue to frustrate Tom Chilton, keeping him behind as Onslow-Cole pulled away.

O'Neill's second, as ever, pleased the crowd, the Merseysider taking his customary bow as he climbed, obviously elated from the car.

Behind the BMWs, which did not generally enjoy a good weekend, were joined in battle, Rob Collard being hounded by the Airwaves pairing of Steven Kane and Mat Jackson. Their battle soon included the Hondas of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden and it was Neal and Jackson who were the first to breach Collard's defences, though they were later joined by Shedden as the trio tracked down a fading Chilton.

Even once they caught the double race winner getting past was far from straight forward, the move that finally saw all three past the Ford was typically abrasive, Jackson all but mounting the left rear corner of the Focus, knocking Chilton wide, through the substantial damage did little to slow him down.

Jackson, the only damage visible on the BMW the fact the right side of the front bumper carried an ugly black scar, was able to hold off Neal to complete the podium behind Onslow-Cole and O'Neill, the accumulated delays of contact and time behind Chilton meaning Jackson trailed the Integra by nearly four second at the end of the 25 lap race (three laps added due to the earlier safety car period)

Neal's fourth – his best result of the day – came when Jason Plato suffered his worst. Plato only recovered to ninth after the first corner contact, sometimes appearing to struggle to pass drivers he would normally dispatch easily – John George or Phil Glew for example – Glew stripped of a chance to score points on his series return by a drive through penalty.

Plato's final struggle was failing to pass James Nash, though the race ended with the Triple Eight driver under investigation. Alex MacDowall – in a battered Cruze – claimed tenth and the final point.

Collard finished twelfth – a victim of a lap 12 accident involving he, Steven Kane and Andrew Jordan at Becketts. Jordan trying to pass both BMWs on the inside only to be spun across Kane's nose into the side of Collard's entry.

Jordan was the only one to have to retire, his car ending in the gravel. Collard continued – albeit with a large sent of dents in his right hand doors – while Kane carried on unscathed to finish seventh.

The end of the three races now sees Plato on 171 points, 14 points ahead in the championship, though his closest challenge is now Onslow-Cole. Matt Neal has lost ground to now be 23 points adrift of Plato. Chilton's two wins lifts him to fifth in the standings, the title still a mathematical possibility 44 points behind Plato.

Team Aon moved to with four points of Honda Racing Team in the teams' championship and now have 22 point lead in the manufacturers' title – competing against Honda and Chevrolet.

1 No.21 Tom Onslow-Cole – 25 laps in 28:42.835
2 No.29 Paul O'Neill – +2.629
3 No.5 Mat Jackson – +6.597
4 No.4 Matt Neal – +6.825
5 No.52 Gordon Shedden – +7.209
6 No.23 Tom Chilton – +7.707
7 No.11 Steven Kane – +9.287
8 No.14 James Nash – +16.887
9 No.2 Jason Plato – +17.133
10 No.20 Alex MacDowall – +19.435

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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