Oulton Park: Series qualiifying report

POLE FOR ONSLOW-COLE IN ULTRA-CLOSE QUALIFYING SESSION AT OULTON PARK In a terrifically close session, which ended with the top four separated by just 0.069s, Onslow-Cole took pole with a best lap of 1m27.330s behind the wheel of his LPG-powered...

POLE FOR ONSLOW-COLE IN ULTRA-CLOSE QUALIFYING SESSION AT OULTON PARK

In a terrifically close session, which ended with the top four separated by just 0.069s, Onslow-Cole took pole with a best lap of 1m27.330s behind the wheel of his LPG-powered Team Aon Ford Focus. It's his first pole in the BTCC for two years.

Honda Racing Team's Gordon Shedden was second fastest, just 0.020s behind in his Honda Civic. Jason Plato's Silverline Chevrolet Cruze was third, another 0.039s adrift and himself a mere 0.010s up on his young team-mate Alex MacDowall who was fourth.

Of note, Plato set his time despite his car carrying 36kg of success ballast. And with Honda's Matt Neal - the driver with whom he shares the championship lead - back in seventh, Plato will surely sense an opportunity to nose back ahead in the title fight in tomorrow's three races.

But there was frustration for home hero Paul O'Neill. The Widnes driver had initially set the sixth fastest time but when his Sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Honda Integra stopped out on track with a gearbox problem was powerless to respond as his name dropped down to eighth on the timesheets. Fellow local driver, Tom Boardman from Preston, qualified his Special Tuning UK SEAT Leon 12th fastest.

Meanwhile, Onslow-Cole, just turned 23 and from New Malden, Middlesex, is hoping some strong results tomorrow will enable him to improve on his seventh place in the current drivers' standings. He said: "It's about time! I'm really chuffed with that because I wasn't on the pace in the two practice sessions but really had a good look at the data and made some changes to the car which worked a treat. It's also a great feeling to be on pole at Oulton as it's a real test for a driver."

Scottish hero Shedden, who has won on his every visit to Oulton, commented: "I felt I could maybe have got a fraction more out of the car which is slightly frustrating considering how close I am to pole but it's still good to be starting from the front row. Jason's pace with that ballast in his car is a concern…"

Oxford-based Plato, the 2001 Champion, appeared disappointed not to have sneaked pole, adding: "My first lap, when the tyres were at their freshest, should have been my best but it didn't quite all come together. I actually set my time when the best had gone out of the tyres. But I'm in there at the sharp end and we've made some good improvements with the car in recent testing so not so bad."

ITV4's live coverage of tomorrow's event is from 12.00pm-6.30pm and will also be live-streamed on the www.itv.com website.

-source: btcc

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Series BTCC
Drivers Paul O'Neill , Jason Plato , Matt Neal , Tom Boardman , Gordon Shedden , Alex MacDowall