Double delight for boys in yellow
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher celebrated a double podium and six top ten finishes via Tom Chilton and James Cole as it kickstarted its campaign over Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park.
Chilton led the charge for the Motorbase-run outfit, claiming the squad’s first two podiums and a maiden Independent win of the season, with team-mate James Cole delivering a trio of top nine finishes to help propel them up to fourth in the overall Teams’ Standings.
A strong qualifying performance from the duo on Saturday afternoon saw Chilton snatch third in the session’s closing minutes, just 0.332 seconds off pole, with Cole placing a solid eighth.
Chilton stormed to second off the line in the opener and deflected a robust challenge from Andrew Jordan’s fast charging BMW with an excellent defensive drive. He eventually brought the #3 Focus RS home in second for the team’s first podium of the season.
Cole also pulled off a textbook start launching the #20 Focus RS up into sixth on the opening lap. Chasing down Matt Neal’s Honda, the Liverpool-based driver looked set to deliver a strong top six finish before losing out to a brave lunge from Colin Turkington on the penultimate lap which dropped him back to seventh at the flag.
With race one winner Matt Simpson unable to start race two due to engine trouble, Chilton was promoted to pole position. Running on the softer option tyre with 66kg on-board, the 33-year-old had a task on his hands against the lighter competition but another strong showing from the Reigate-based driver was rewarded with third, an Independents’ race win and his second rostrum visit of the day.
Also running on the soft compound tyre, Cole battled to hold off the charging pack and after trading places with his Motorbase stablemate Sam Tordoff on lap seven, managed to retain his fifth spot to the flag.
After an initial race three red flag, starting from third and laden with 48kg of ballast, Cole was bested by Jordan’s fast-starting BMW off the line. A hard-fought race followed with the #20 coming under persistent challenges from the lighter pack before contact on the final lap forced Cole onto the grass. He recovered well but dropped back to claim ninth overall.
Chilton’s strong weekend was sealed with seventh in race three. Despite picking up a mechanical issue on the warm-up lap, he served up a steadfast defensive drive. Whilst under pressure, he managed to salvage another credible points haul to complete his best weekend of results so far this season.
As the highest scoring Independent team of the weekend, Oulton Park’s results have launched Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher into fourth place in the overall standings and third in the Independent Teams’ standings.
Chilton has also moved up into eighth place overall and fourth in the Indy Drivers’ tally, with James Cole in 15th and ninth respectively as the team heads to Croft in North Yorkshire for Rounds 13, 14 and 15 on 23-24 June.
“It’s been a great weekend for Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher,” said Team Principal David Bartrum. “We’ve bagged a really good haul of points, which is exactly what we needed to turn our championship challenge around.
“We’ve moved forward in the standings as a team and also with Tom in eighth and James in 14th now. It gives us something solid to go to Croft with and get ourselves into a strong position at the half way point of the season.
“We had the pace again this weekend. Oulton Park can be very difficult with the heat, but I’m very happy to say that we delivered a car that was very competitive. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the performance of the whole team this weekend.”
Tom Chilton added: “This has been the best weekend of the year for me and the team. I’m really happy to get the first podium – not one but two – and an Indy race win as well. We came here 11th in the standings and leave in eighth so we’re getting a lot closer to where we should be.
“We had a very unusual mechanical issue in race three which caused a few problems and without that I think we could have finished around fourth but we managed to hang on in there and get a good result.
“The team have all worked really hard since Thruxton so it’s great to get some silverware! Roll on Croft.”
Oulton local James Cole said: “It’s been a good weekend, all credit to the car #20 crew.
“I’d have liked to given them a podium but it wasn’t too be. Race three was a frustrating end to the day, going from sixth with a lap to go to ninth, but I can’t really complain with qualifying in the top ten and then following that up with three top ten finishes.
“We’ve come away with a great points haul from the weekend and moved up in the standings. We bounced back from our horror weekend at Thruxton which is what we planned and we can carry this into Croft now in two weeks’ time.
“If we can finish every weekend in the top five or six then eventually we’ll get our podiums and wins.”