Tom Onslow-Cole stood on the 24 Hours of Paul Ricard podium for the second year running, yesterday, when he and his SPS Automotive Performance team-mates finished in third place in the front-running GT3 Pro class with the Mercedes AMG GT3.
It was a hard-fought come-back for OC, Lance David Arnold (DE), Alex Müller (DE), Valentin Pierburg (DE) and Stephané Kox (NL), who started the 24-hour race from the front row. After a smooth run throughout the night, fortunes soon changed, when two unscheduled pit stops dropped them down the order in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Three laps down from the podium, running in eighth place and with six hours remaining, the Milltek Sport-supported driver knew they had to dig deep and push hard if they were to have any chance of success: “I’ll be honest, at that point, we all thought our podium hopes were over, but you never stop fighting,” he said. “You don’t know what will happen to those in front of you so you need to get yourself as close to the leader as possible. The good thing in these situations is that the team takes on an ‘all or bust’ approach, so Alex and Lance each did a double stint, pushing like crazy, before I took over for a double to the chequered flag.”
As predicted, there was trouble ahead for the second place Lamborghini, which retired, and the third place Ferrari, which had to do an extra stop for a puncture. Now running in fourth in the Pro class behind the Ferrari, the podium was in sight for OC’s final stint.
After both cars had pitted for fuel and tyres, OC came out just six seconds behind Malucelli. Although the Ferrari had been the quicker car, all weekend, OC took no time in closing the gap at around a second and a half a lap. With 15 minutes to go, OC passed the Ferrari and moved into third place in class.
“We wanted to go there and take the overall win but a class podium is still fantastic given the situation we were in at the start of the day,” commented the Rockstar Energy Drink Athlete. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my weekend with SPS Automotive Performance – they are a well-run team that does everything to the highest standard and I have a lot of time for that. They are all great to be around and I even managed to pick up a bit of German!”

OC will now return home to prepare for the highest profile event in his 2016 calendar, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps,
“I’m looking forward to racing the Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 around Spa. It’s such a fast, flowing circuit that should really suit the car and it’s well-built to cope with all of the drama of a 24-hour race,” he added. “I’ve taken podiums at Dubai 24 Hours, Barcelona 24 Hours and 24 Hours of Paul Ricard in the last 18 months so I’d love to add 24 Hours of Spa to this list, in a fortnight’s time.”
The 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps takes place on 30/31 July and will be live streamed at www.blancpain-gt-series.com.