Team Aon battled through a tough weekend’s racing to secure a podium finish during the final race of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s (BTCC) annual visit to Scotland. The tight and twisty Knockhill circuit characteristics didn’t suit the turbocharged Ford Focus from the outset and so the team set about a damage limitation exercise.
Race One of the day started off in typically frantic BTCC style, as is so often the case at Knockhill. Several incidents at turn one including the BMW of Andy Neate and John George’s Honda coming together, meant that the safety car was deployed at the end of lap one. Both Team Aon Ford’s made good starts with Onslow-Cole gaining three places from eighth to fifth and Chilton holding station in seventh.
The safety car held the field under caution for just two laps and at the restart Onslow-Cole immediately set about challenging championship rival Plato in front of him for fourth, Plato resisted the move meaning Tom momentarily lost momentum and ended up being shuffled back through the pack to ninth. Chilton took up the pursuit of Plato and with a great move into turn one took fourth position, where he would finish. Onslow-Cole’s race was rather eventful, after he seemed to swap paint with most of the field, including great battles with O’Neill, Jordan and Collard, who ended the race in the gravel trap after he attempted one too many bold overtaking manoeuvres.
Race Two of the day also started with a bang, this time it was the turn of Dave Pinkney to come together, with Rob Collard at the first corner, with both cars coming to rest in the gravel having sustained heavy damage. The start was more successful for the two Ford’s though, as both cars moved forward a place after Race One pole-man Alex MacDowall suffered a poor getaway. The safety car emerged for eight laps whilst the Scottish marshals worked to clear the wrecked Vauxhall and BMW at turn one. When the race was eventually re-started Matt Neal took the lead from Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden, they went on to finish one-two. Championship leader Plato outdragged Team Aon’s Tom Chilton to snatch the final podium place, although Tom did secure a bonus point for recording the fastest lap of the race. Tom Onslow-Cole had a quieter second race of the day and collected valuable championship points by taking his second seventh place finish of the day.
The reverse grid draw was kind to Team Aon, with seven been selected, giving Tom Onslow-Cole pole position. He lead the opening stages, despite the best efforts Mat Jackson, who’s robust move only earned his BMW a trip through the gravel. Tom Chilton’s fourth place start was also ruined when contact with one of the Honda Racing car’s sent him spinning out of contention, a great recovery drive from the back would see him work his way back through the field to secure a vital championship point
Onslow-Cole’s early lead was soon under threat from Jason Plato’s rapid Chevrolet and after a close battle the championship leader passed the Ford before braking into turn one. Matt Neal took third behind Plato and Onslow-Cole to ensure the top three drivers in the championship all ended the day on the podium.
Tom Onslow-Cole (#21), BTCC Standings: 3rd – 178 points.
“It’s been a difficult weekend, we weren’t sure how we’d go here and it has proved to be something of a bogey track for the Calor Gas powered Focus. My running yesterday was limited and that put me slightly on the back foot set-up wise and I woke up ill this morning which hasn’t really helped! But we’ve come away with some good points, so I’m pleased. The team have worked so hard, it’s great to end the day with some champagne for them”
Tom Chilton (#23), BTCC Standings: 5th – 143 points.
“Knockhill is always a close weekend as it is such a short lap and our pace wasn’t as strong as at Silverstone two weeks ago. It all stemmed from qualifying, as I’ve had to play catch up through the races, I chipped away at it and moved forward in each of the first two races and I was really hoping to get a podium in race three, it wasn’t to be, but at least I’ve scored points in each of the days races to keep the championship scoreboard ticking over.”
Mike Earle, Team Principal: – points (Team) & – points (Constructor).
“A tough weekend for Team Aon, we didn’t think we’d be very strong here, it is a bit too stop and go for us, which doesn’t suit a turbocharged car like our Focus. Therefore It was a damage limitation exercise and with that in mind today was okay. Hopefully we will be stronger at Donington and Brands Hatch still to come.”
Source: Team Aon Media