Chilton: ‘My goal is the Drivers’ title’
Tom Chilton concluded a deal with Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher back in December and immediately made his intentions for the forthcoming season clear – he’d be back fully-focussed and with one thing on his mind ahead of the 2018 campaign.
The 32-year-old has his eyes firmly set on the coveted Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship crown and the news that his new employers, Motorbase, would be upgrading to the Focus RS for the 2018 season can only have served to boost those ambitions.
Chilton made his return to the BTCC last year with Power Maxed Racing, in the then newly-minted Vauxhall Astra. His comeback ended a five-year absence from British motorsport’s top flight, after leaving in 2012 to compete in the WTCC.
A busy season followed as he combined a BTCC push with a final fling in the WTCC. Despite covering over 58,000 air miles and racing in seven different time zones, he sealed the Independents’ and notched third overall in the WTCC.
This year, Chilton’s focus will switch solely to domestic affairs, in a championship he first joined 15 years ago at the age of just 17 – the youngest driver ever to take to a BTCC grid at the time. He went on to make history yet again two years later as the youngest race winner the series had seen. His best overall result came in 2010, when he was crowned the Indy champ in Ford machinery – the S2000 Focus ST.
Poignantly, that very Focus ST would kick-start Motorbase’s seven year journey with the blue oval badge. After purchasing the former Team AON Ford Focus STs at the end of the 2010 season, the Kent-based squad has wielded a succession of Fords, evolving from the 2011 S2000 Focus ST, to the NGTC-spec Focus ST and now the revival of the RS brand in the BTCC after 25 years away with the Focus RS.
Chilton’s enthusiasm for the season ahead lies not only with joining forces with the 2016 Independent Teams’ champions, but also in being reunited with the Ford marque. It’s been a successful partnership in the past, with the racer collecting an impressive tally of five outright race wins, 13 podiums and six pole positions in three seasons piloting the Focus ST.
“I’m really fired up for the season ahead,” enthused Chilton. “The last time I was behind the wheel of the Focus, I won the Indy title in 2010 so it’s nice to come back to it.
“The boys have done an excellent job in moving over to the RS during the winter and I can’t wait to try out the car in anger for the first time. It’s just stunning and I think the fans will absolutely love it, which is always a winner.
“I’m 100 percent focused on the BTCC this year – my goal is the overall title. I want to keep the momentum going from last year and BTCC champion is what I want to be,” added the Gallagher-backed driver. “I love the BTCC’s fans, they’re the most passionate and just the best in the world – the racing is special too, which helps.
“It’s unique to have 32 cars racing so closely together. There’s no other championship in the world that’s as fiercely fought as the BTCC and every win and podium feels like a massive achievement.”