OC FINISHES SECOND OVERALL IN DUBAI 24 HOURS

British professional racing driver Tom Onslow-Cole finished in second place in Dubai 24 Hours, one of the most gruelling and challenging endurances races in the world, in the Ram Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.

The 27-year old raced the 6.2-litre V8 machine for the first time alongside AMG factory driver Thomas Jäger (DE), experienced SLS driver Adam Christodoulou (GB) and locally-based driver Cheerag Arya (IN).

In qualifying one, Onslow-Cole set the car's fastest lap time of 1:59.995 - the second fastest lap of the 12 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 entries - to place the car in third overall. Team-mate Jager completed qualifying two and recorded the fourth fastest time overall, an ideal place to start the 24 hour race from.

"Our aim was to qualify inside the top five," commented Onslow-Cole. "Of course, in a 24 hour race qualifying isn't that important but, the further back you are, the more chance there is of being involved in an incident as you work up the pack."

In the post-qualifying nighttime practice session, Onslow-Cole had his first chance to weave the SLS through the 95 cars on track in darkness. Holding the fastest time of the session until the last lap he was pleased to be third fastest as the session finished.

"There are so many skills you need to hone to be good at 24 hour racing," he commented. "Being able to do a fast lap isn't enough. You need to master traffic management, driving in the dark, tyre and fuel management and much more."

Jäger started the race and held fourth place throughout his stint but, after a transponder issue in the opening hours of the race, the team lost several places. When Onslow-Cole started his first stint the team was in 22nd place and he set to work climbing through the pack. Proving his traffic management and overtaking ability, he safely worked the SLS back up to 11th place before handing the car over to Christodoulou.

"I really enjoyed my first stint in the car, it wasn't my fastest of the race but it was really satisfying to climb up the grid and bring us back into contention for a good result."  

At the start of his second stint, at 11pm, the team was up to fourth, a position they still held by the start of his third stint at 5am.

"Throughout my stints I got faster and faster," commented Onslow-Cole. "I was pleased with my driving throughout the race. It was a new car to me and I wanted to make sure I didn't make any silly mistakes so I pushed harder and worked up gradually. By the third stint I felt I had a good handle on the car as I consistently recorded lap times that closed us to the leader."

By his final stint, at 11am, the team was up to second overall, the position it held until the chequered flag.

"I really enjoyed the race," he concluded. "Of course, the goal was the race win, but second place is still great. Without the issue at the start, who knows what could have happened… But then again there are probably many teams saying that!"

"I did my first ever endurance race here in Dubai 24 Hours so it is a place I have great memories of. I can't wait to come back next year and go one step higher up the podium. I have some great races planned in the meantime and I'm excited that 2015 is underway."

Onslow-Cole will announce his 2015 plans in the coming weeks.