Rounds 7, 8 and 9 and of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship took place at Thruxton Race Circuit on May 18/19.
Tom Chilton arrives at the fearsome Hampshire track in strong form. With two podiums and an Independent race win already under his belt this season, the Motorbase-man currently leads the Independent Drivers’ Standings and remains very much in the overall title fight tied for third place and just 5 points off the top spot.
After struggling to find the critical ‘sweet spot’ on the Ford Focus RS during Saturday’s practice sessions, the Motorbase-run outfit made dramatic set-up changes to its title challenger heading in the afternoon qualifying run.
Unfortunately, any hopes of a strong result were thwarted in the final moments of the session, when Mark Blundell ran Tom Chilton into the barriers on the final chicane with just over 4 minutes remaining on the clock. The #3 Focus sustained heavy damage, requiring an overnight rebuild for Sunday’s race day.
Starting from P22 with 36kg of championship ballast on-board, Chilton made steady progress in an uncharacteristically processional opening BTCC race to eventually cross the line in P18.
Free of the success ballast for race 2, Chilton battled hard over the 16 laps to eventually take P13 at the final flag. Unfortunately, having been deemed as exceeding track limits by the race officials, an amended race result for the Reigate-racer saw the #3 Focus RS relegated back to P25 for the final grid of the day.
The final race of the day finally delivered some small reward for the team. The Motorbase duo made an outstanding start from the back of the grid, making up numerous places on the opening lap before the safety car was called into action. Chilton continued his run in the interrupted contest, with ultimately breaking into the points to finish in P13.
Although a challenging weekend, the squad leaves the Hampshire circuit with a mass of data under its belt ahead of the return visit to Thruxton in August. The BTCC has a four week break in the calendar before reconvening at Croft circuit in North Yorkshire on June 15/16.
Team Manager Oly Collins:
“Unfortunately, Thruxton just wasn’t our weekend. Saturday didn’t go to plan and when you start back where we were it’s difficult. We improved the car performance for each of the races and both drivers were looking good for a much better race 2 result which can salvage a weekend like this, with a reverse grid, but it wasn’t to be.
“We have to learn from the mistakes from this weekend and we’ll come back stronger at Croft.”
#3 Tom Chilton:
“It’s nice to end a tough weekend with a much faster car than we started with, and to have scored some points. Actually for me personally, race 3 was a little bit of a high as I went from the back of the grid to 13th.
“We made more set-up changes to the car which worked, and we made a big leap forwards in pace. We’ve still got a fraction more to find, but what we have unlocked will put us in good stead for the next round and also for when we come back here in a few months’ time. We have completely transformed the car this weekend, and all credit to the team and especially to Pete, my number, who has worked incredibly hard.”
- QUALIFYING: P22
- ROUND 7: P18
- ROUND 8: P25
- ROUND 9: P13