Arena Motorsport’s James Nash and Tom Chilton endured a tough weekend at Curitiba, with Nash taking the team’s best result of the weekend in 14th place. The reigning BTCC independents’ champion says the weight break given to the rival SEAT and BMW teams worked against the Fords in Brazil.
Despite occasional showings in the top ten over the weekend in practice, the two Fords struggled in qualifying with James Nash qualifying in 19th and Tom Chilton 20th.
Nash went on to finish in 14th in race one and 15th in race two, with Chilton clocking 18th and 16th place finishes respectively, after he was also being given a 30 second penalty for accelerating before the lights went out in race one’s rolling start.
“Race one was fun and at one stage I was in the thick of a seven-car battle for 13th that raged for several laps,” said Nash. “It was so good that I understand that the television director chose to follow the battle instead of the Chevrolets leading the race.”
The FIA’s latest compensation ballast measures, which use the fastest laps of the top two of each car model in qualifying and the races for the last three rounds, gave 30kg weight reductions to both SEAT and BMW ahead of Curitiba, bringing the SEAT León WTCC to within 20kg of the Ford Focus S2000 TCs of Nash and Chilton. Nash believes this had a strong influence on how competitive the Ford was able to be this weekend.
“It is clear that the breaks given to the SEATs and BMWs have cost us,” said Nash. “I understand the theory that the break was given to reflect the discrepancy between them and the Chevrolets, but frankly apart from possibly Gabriele Tarquini in the semi-works SEAT, the Chevrolets are quite simply on a different planet,let alone performance level to everybody else anyway.”