Photo: WTCC Media

Tom Chilton to return next year with new RML-built Cruze

Tom Chilton will return in next year’s World Touring Car Championship behind the wheel of one of RML’s new Chevrolet Cruzes, though which team will run him is as yet unconfirmed.

The 28-year-old Briton had a nightmare of a weekend at Macau. Heading into the weekend with an outside shot of grabbing second in the championship from Honda’s Gabriele Tarquini, a crash at the Solitude Esses in FP2 put him on the backfoot going into qualifying, but then engine dramas on Sunday for Tarquini opened up the possibility again.

Unfortunately, contact from Pepe Oriola’s Chevrolet in race one put Chilton into the barriers, and then further damage in race two after contact from the rear from James Nash’s bamboo Chevrolet saw him forced to stop at Maternity on lap five, which was the catalyst for the incident on the following lap which saw a multiple pile-up and a second red flag.

“(Heading) In to race two I was only one point behind James (Nash), and if I did win the last race I could still get into second (in the Championship), so (at that point I was) fourth but I could still get to second,” said Chilton.

“I did Nash (at the start) so I thought ‘OK great, I’m third’, and then the two in front were holding me up and there were still a lot of laps left in the race, so all the time I’m thinking I might have got past him, but I didn’t get to that point in the race.”

Looking ahead to 2014, Chilton has put in the second order after Hugo Valente for one of RML’s new Chevrolet Cruzes, however who will run the car is as yet undecided. It won’t be RML, who’ve elected to not run their own race team next season and concentrate on customer support and work towards a full return in 2015.

Chilton’s focus is on getting the best package available to run him next season, mindful that the cheapest option might not yield the best results from the new car, which will have limited testing before the season begins in Marrakech in April.

“There’s obviously a few options down the pit lane, and everyone promises lots of things,” he said. “But at the end of the day I can’t finalise anything until I get my sponsors finalised…and there’s a big difference in price between which teams you go with.”