Photo: PSP Images

Tom Chilton: Race three penalty “a fair cop”

Tom Chilton said he had no arguments with the post-race penalty that cost him a first win of the 2019 BTCC season in the final race of the weekend at Brands Hatch.

The Motorbase driver looked to have secured victory in the final race of the weekend after fighting his way past Stephen Jelley and Matt Neal into the lead, having started from third on the grid after the reversed grid draw.

However, a move on Neal for the lead at Clearways that resulted in contact between the pair was deemed to have been illegal by stewards, who imposed a five second time penalty that dropped him to second behind Rory Butcher’s Honda.

Despite missing out on a victory, Chilton heads away from the season opener sitting second in the standings having battled through to third place in race one on slick tyres from 13th on the grid – with more points then coming in race two despite struggling with the performance of the softer compound tyre.

“We’ve had lots of ups and downs this weekend!” he said. “Saturday was a pretty awful day if I’m honest. Considering all of the work and testing we’ve done in the pre-season it didn’t go in our favour in qualifying. But actually 13th wasn’t the end of the world after all, and we’re coming away from this weekend with two podiums, three top ten finishes and currently second in the championship.

“The decision after race three was a fair cop! I pushed to pass Matt Neal, and they’ve pushed me back with a five-second penalty which meant I ended up finishing second overall. Obviously, I’m gutted that I lost the win, but in hindsight, I should have backed off to let him back through. I genuinely hadn’t realised that I had done it until I watched the on-board back. I’m holding my hands up.

“Even so, it’s been a great start to our season. It’s all to play for heading to Donington Park. We’re in a great position and we’ll keep working hard and pushing forward.”