TOC TRIPLES AT SPA

Despite finishing Spa 24 Hours at the 16-hour mark due to a mechanical issue, British professional racing driver Tom Onslow-Cole came away from his weekend in the Aston Martin Racing-run V12 Vantage GT3 with an impressive run of lap times and a triple night-time stint that saw them rise to 16th.

The 27-year old from Surrey arrived at the second of his three 2014 24-hour races with confidence high. Just two weeks earlier he impressed at the British GT Championship round held at the 7km long Spa-Francorchamps circuit, setting the fastest lap of the two one-hour races.

Now back at the track, Onslow-Cole began the first of two qualifying sessions for Spa 24 Hours in the PGF-Kinfaun V12 Vantage GT3, with his sights set on the top-20 SuperPole shoot-out.

“The top 20 cars go into the SuperPole shootout and that’s where I wanted to be,” commented Onslow-Cole. “In the pre-qualifying session I was up in the top 20 and I felt like there was more to come ahead of qualifying.

“With 62 cars and 220 drivers it was always going to be difficult to get a clear run in qualifying. Although we improved by over a second, the traffic was enough to cost us those vital tenths to see us through into the top 20. Still, it’s a 24 hour race so 31st could still lead us to a strong result.”

On Saturday, the GT3 cars lined up on the grid and at 16.30 the green flag waved for the start of the race. Onslow-Cole started a stint that saw him fighting for places in the busy and highly-competitive field of the top GT drivers in the world.

“The first stint was crazy,” commented the Milltek-Sport sponsored driver. “Drivers were willing to put everything on the line for some very small gains. For me the objective quickly became survival and making sure I handed the car over fit to take on the next 23 hours.”

After just over an hour, Onslow-Cole handed the V12 machine over to regular team-mate Paul White (GB), who, in turn, handed over to Phil Dryburgh (GB) and then John Gaw (GB).

After dinner and some sleep, Onslow-Cole prepared for his nighttime stint, which took place from midnight until 3am.

“I was pleased with my nighttime stint,” he continued. “I was consistently in the top-five lap times throughout the three hours and we even managed to double stint the Pirelli tyres, something I believe the other teams were struggling to do.”

Having made up several positions, Onslow-Cole completed his three-hour stint and handed over the Casio Edifice-liveried car to Paul White in 16th place and 10th in class.

After double stints from White and Dryburgh, Onslow-Cole was back in the car but, at around 08.00, the car lost drive and he was advised to turn off the engine and retire the car.

“If I could have got the car back to the garage, I know the Aston Martin Racing team could have got us back out but I was on the outside of turn one and there was no way I could make it all the way back around to the pit entry.

"All-in-all, it was a great experience and I'm pleased with my performance. I can't wait for Barcelona 24 Hours, now."