Photo: PSP Images

Tom Chilton secures independents’ advantage

Tom Chilton maintained his solid start to the BTCC season – and moved into the lead in the independents’ championship – on the back of three strong finishes as the series headed to Donington Park for round two.

Chilton headed into the weekend looking to make amends for the victory he lost at Brands Hatch during the season opener but was left with work to do on race day after qualifying 13th having been one of the drivers to be caught out by multiple red flags.

Having avoided the chaos of lap one in the opening race, Chilton secured an eighth place finish in his Motorbase-run Ford Focus and then moved into the championship lead with fourth place in Race 2.

Although Race 3 would become a case of damage limitation on the hard tyre, Chilton still comes out of the weekend having moved into the Independents’ points lead and remains third overall.

“Race 1 was a great start to the weekend. I carved my way through the field and kept out of trouble and I was really happy with eighth with 48kg on-board. I went into race two excited with the weight out, and I went a good half a second a lap faster. I was skimming Matt Neal’s bumper at one point and closing in on Ash Sutton. I was so close to the podium. It was great that we got the Independent win and fourth place to take the championship lead.

“The reverse grid worked reasonably well in our favour for race three, but we were on the hard tyre which we know is slower. I wasn’t too upset with my pace at the start of the race, but it dropped off a cliff in the second half of the race. We really struggled on the later laps and went from a comfortable fifth place to a twelfth place.

“We’ve learnt an awful lot about the hard tyre this weekend, which is great heading to the next round at Thruxton. In race two I was leading both the overall and Independent championship, which is the first time I’ve ever done that.”