Q & A with Tom Onslow-Cole

After taking his maiden BTCC pole position at Donington Park, Vauxhall driver Tom Onslow-Cole sat down for a chat with autosport.com

Q & A with Tom Onslow-Cole

Q. Your first BTCC pole position must leave you feeling pretty good?

Tom Onslow-Cole: "Oh yeah, it's a fantastic feeling, and done in style too. It certainly wasn't as easy as it looked though and I was bricking it in the car while I was waiting for Plato to finish his lap."

Q. Whose decision was it not to try for a final lap in the dying minutes?

TOC: "We discussed it with my engineer before and decided that if I could pull out another lap like the one I did in practice then we should be okay for pole. So I got one in and came back to the pits, got ready to go out again if we needed to, but ended up waiting and saving tyres.

"You get that crucial call with five minutes left where if you decide to stay in there's no time for a flying lap afterwards. So we did that and just sat pretty nervously for the next few minutes while Jason put in a bit of a stonker. It's a great result."

Q. So how come you're so hooked up around Donington?

TOC: "A few things have all just come together. We've had the pace all year, but two DNFs didn't help things and have put us down in the championship. Now though, I'm back in the car that I was in at Brands Hatch rather than the spare I drove at Rockingham.

"Can you believe it's the same car that was totalled at Brands? I went to the workshop last week and it looked brand new. The team have done a fantastic job of repairing it and have worked flat-out at Triple Eight. They've made it better than it was in the first place on this evidence. The difference it made to me was probably more psychological than mechanical, plus I really enjoy this track - it is one of my favourites."

Q. Will you be disappointed not to take a win in the races?

TOC: "That's the next thing. I'd like to quit now and say 'that's three out of three so we're done', but obviously there's still three races to go. We'll be hoping for at least one win, but the key thing for me is to get off the line well. I've struggled with the starts this year, and at Rockingham there was one race where I went from seventh on the grid to about 12th in 150 yards.

"It's very different starting in a front-wheel drive Vauxhall compared to the rear-drive BMW I was in last year, so I've been on at Fabrizio, because he's a demon off the line, and hopefully I can nail his technique for the races."

Q. Have you been practicing the starts in testing?

TOC: "We've had a limited number in the winter and we usually do a few at the shakedown, but I couldn't make shakedown this week. But we've got a few little bits we've improved on too. I know exactly what I have to do now. It's just a case of doing it."

Q. The SEATs look pretty strong. Are they a threat to you?

TOC: "I think they're gonna be strong, but I'm not too worried. They're both great to race against - I had a really good battle with Jason when I won at Snetterton last year and I look forward to racing with him again tomorrow. It should be a good fight."

Q. Fabrizio is P8, Matt is heavy on ballast, so you must be Vauxhall's man, for race one at least. Do you feel any extra pressure?

TOC: "No. I got used to this in the Clios when I was chasing the championship there. I'm happy with what we've done this weekend so far and I just hope it continues."

Q. Were the track conditions getting worse as qualifying drew on? Nobody was able to improve in the late stages.

TOC: "I think it's been different. In qualifying it got warmer towards the end and that kills the front-wheel drive cars. I thought the BMWs would be stronger than they were because as it gets hotter they tend to go well.

"It's different in every session. We were fortunate that in the practice sessions we put in good times mid-session on old tyres and were able to play about a bit after that. We just had a near-perfect lap with a good set-up."

Q. The organisers put bollards next to the kerbs at the Goddards chicane after practice to stop people cutting the corner. Was it a good move?

TOC: "Yeah. It seemed to clear the track up a lot and it's not affected the times at all. It was difficult at first because you come through once and it's fine, but then 20 cars go through before you get back around and you never know how the grip levels are going to change.

"It will be interesting to see how long they stay there in the races. I don't know how solid they are, but hitting them at the speed we'll be going at will do some damage. I wouldn't be surprised to come around one lap and see a block in the middle of the track."

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Maiden BTCC pole for Onslow-Cole
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