Chilton ‘in it to win it’ as he reflects on ‘perfect weekend’
The fourth meeting of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship gave Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher much cause for celebration. After a season-best qualifying result for Tom Chilton and Ollie Jackson, Chilton went on to claim his third podium of the year, second overall win and third independent win on the North Yorkshire circuit.
With numerous on-track incidents halting proceedings during qualifying, Chilton pushed his #3 Focus RS to the limit to secure a second-row start with P3 on his first flying lap in the dying minutes. Just a lap later, Ollie Jackson took the P8 spot.
Race one saw Chilton in a full-race length challenge from the BMW’s. Defending his podium position for the entire 18-lap challenge, the 34-year-old remained steadfast under unrelenting pressure to bring the Focus home in P3, claiming his 55th BTCC-career podium.
Jackson’s strong start to the weekend looked to continue into the first race, running as high as sixth in the opening laps. On lap five, however, Jackson ran wide through the complex and clipped the curb, resulting in damage to his front-left wing. A daring effort saw him hold on for another three laps as the bodywork rubbed on the tyre before it finally gave way as the field was running under the safety car, pitching him into the barriers and ending his race.
Chilton battled hard to stay in the points-scoring zone in race two as he came under increasing pressure from the lighter, charging pack. Dropping down the order in the opening laps, he eventually took the flag in ninth collecting another haul of points for the championship challenge.
Lining up at the back of the grid, Jackson made steady progress through the field. Seeking to make amends for his earlier error, the 35-year-old pushed forward an impressive eight grid spots on the narrow circuit and crossed the line in P20.
Starting from pole by virtue of the reversed-grid draw, Chilton piloted the #3 Focus to the overall and Independent race win and rarely looked challenged for the race lead.
Making a strong start off the line, Jackson had charged into the points by the end of the first tour. Scything his way to 11th by the mid-way point, he eventually claimed P11 as the flag dropped, securing his highest-placed finish of the season.
The weekend’s results have moved the Kent-based squad up to third in the Independent Teams standings, with Tom Chilton sitting third in the Indy Drivers’ points. Both driver and team also remain seventh in the overall standings ahead of the next meeting at Oulton Park in Cheshire on June 29/30.
“It was a perfect weekend for me and the team,” said Chilton. “We’ve managed not just a double podium, but we got the win as well. We took three top ten’s for my car, and Ollie nearly got a top ten which was great starting from 20th. I’m very happy for him,” remarked Chilton. “I’m really pleased with our qualifying results this weekend. I feel like we’ve finally found our ideal set-up for the wet and dry.
“We’re in it to win it. Everyone in the team is working hard to put all of our knowledge together and make this old girl go faster this year and we’ve done a great job. I’m really looking forward to going to Oulton Park next. I’ll be looking for more of the same.”
“Salvaged I think is the word I’d use to describe this weekend! Qualifying was a high-point. P8 is my best-ever BTCC result and I think we’ve cracked it with the car now,” said Jackson. “The changes that we’ve made paid off in qualifying, and to be fair it was looking good in race one until I made a mistake. That kind of spoilt the weekend really. Thankfully we made our way through the pack in race three and picked up some nice points for the championship.”