Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher salvages points in Silverstone showdown
Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher fought back into the top-five during an action-packed final showdown in the penultimate Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship meeting of the season at Silverstone.
The weekend delivered yet another rollercoaster set of results for the Motorbase-run squad, with changeable weather conditions upsetting much of the running order for the BTCC grid during Rounds 25, 26 and 27.
After taking a solid 11th in qualifying, Chilton claimed a promising top-ten result in the opening race, a result that was later amended to ninth after another driver was penalised.
Free of the soft compound tyre for race two, the Reigate driver’s hopes of securing a top-five finish were short-lived. Innocently collecting a piece of displaced advertising hoarding up in the opening laps, Chilton was forced to pit on lap eight with an overheating engine caused by the debris covering the radiator. Re-joining at the back of the pack, the 34-year-old managed to salvage 20th spot.
A frenetic finale brought the weekend to a close with a classic touring car crowd-pleaser, with Chilton producing a superb zero-to-hero drive on the 1.64-mile National circuit layout to take fifth at the flag.
With all but two of the 30-car grid heading out on slicks, the race quickly became a game of strategy as the rain returned. Taking a gamble to switch to wets on lap five, the #3 crew’s tyre selection proved to be an inspired choice as the heavens opened once more. Scything his way through the field as the laps unfolded, Chilton expertly picked his way up the order to cross the line in fifth from 20th spot, an outcome that looked to be way out of reach just moments earlier.
Ollie Jackson’s weekend sadly proved to be best forgotten. Struggling to string the perfect lap together in qualifying, the Alcon and Beavis Morgan-backed racer found himself on the back foot in 18th.
Caught in the messy midfield, contact in the opening race derailed his chances of moving up the order and into the points-scoring zone and he eventually crossed the line in 18th. Race two was better for Jackson, who despite taking another heavy shunt from behind, managed to add to his points tally in 14th.
Jackson fell foul of the sudden change in weather. After making a stunning start on the greasy track, the 35-year-old was running as high as fifth and looking at an all-but-guaranteed podium spot. Opting to stay on slicks along with the majority of the front-runners, he tumbled down the order as the wet tyre runners came into play and eventually crossed the line frustrated in 19th.
“It was unfortunately another weekend of what could have, or should have been,” said Team Manager Oly Collins. “Saturday was difficult for us as we struggled to get a handle on the circuit which started us off on the back foot.
“We found some pace in the car today but didn’t convert it into the results. Tom was desperately unlucky in race two to collect the advertising board forcing him to pit and lose any chance of a result. Thanks to Tom’s call for wets in race two we did manage to snatch a result from the weekend.
“Ollie was just caught up in other people’s incidents this weekend. I think he had a target on his car. He was running great in fifth until the weather came in.”
“We obviously started the final race in 20th after the shenanigans of the hoarding hitting my car in race two, which was extraordinarily bad luck,” said Chilton. “Where we were at the time, I know we would have finished in 11th, which is what was pulled out on pole. I feel gutted we missed out on the reverse grid.
“I saw Goff pull in early to change to wets, and I almost followed but the team were still saying no at that point. I think it was the right call, as it still wasn’t wet enough at that point. But as soon as the safety car came out we decided to make the switch and it paid off. It was exciting; I was just carving through the field and feel sure we could have made the podium with just a few more laps.”
“I don’t know how I could have done any better,” said Jackson. “There’s no point where I think I could have driven any better, and there’s no point at which I could have done something differently. It was just a shocker of a weekend.
“Race three could have been a completely different result if the rain had held off. Unfortunately it was almost a curse of running so high up that we couldn’t risk or give up a fifth position to change to wets. I can’t think of another time when a tyre change in a modern BTCC race has ever produced results like that. No-one could have predicted it.”