Tom had high hopes for excellent results in the latest BTCC rounds at Thruxton after he had set the pace in the Saturday practice sessions, but it wasn’t to be as firstly mechanical problems and then being caught up innocently in a collision dashed his chances of success......
The good results didn’t come at Thruxton and Tom was left feeling frustrated as his early promise faded into a solitary points scoring finish with 7th place in the first race. Losing control of an unwieldy car in the second caused a rare spin and a lowly 12th place finish, while in the final race, having battled his way into the top five, a collision broke his Honda Civic and he failed to make the finish.
It had all been a different picture on Saturday though with Tom 2nd and then 1st fastest in the two free practice sessions. At that stage Tom and his Team Halfords crew were extremely happy with the performance. In qualifying however, it became clear that all was not well and the discovery of a problem with the differential after the session explained why Tom couldn’t repeat his morning’s pace and wound up in 5th place on the grid.
The diff could be reset and all was not lost, however a last minute engine change forced on them just before the first race, put Tom and the team on the back foot and they never really recovered. Although Tom made it out on time for the first race, the work involved to fit a new engine had left no time to set the car up or make any adjustments. The result was a tough race for Tom; struggling with an ill-handling car he slipped down the order to cross the line in 8th place. The subsequent disqualification of Jason Plato’s SEAT promoted Tom to 7th, but that was little consolation.
In the second race things didn’t improve when a spin early on dropped Tom way down the field and although he recovered by the end, 12th place was the best he could reach. This also meant he wouldn’t benefit from the reverse grid for the final race, so he had his work cut out to get a decent result.
For a while it looked as though his hard work would be rewarded as he blitzed his way through the field and was in a pack challenging for a place in the top four. It came to nothing though as Tom got caught up innocently in an incident at the chicane and the resulting collision forced his retirement.
An obviously disappointed Tom reflected after the race on his frustrating weekend;
“There’s bad luck and then there’s really bad luck and today I’ve had the latter. The car was so good in practice and a small problem in qualifying which meant I couldn’t repeat the earlier performances would not have been that bad really. Starting 5th was not the end of the world. But the engine change with only 45 minutes to go was a real hurdle as the team couldn’t set the car up. Then we had to make some changes because of the punctures people were suffering and that completely changed the car. Then in the final race I got taken out by someone else’s accident. Sometimes things are just stacked against you and today was one of those days.”
Hopefully Tom and Team Halfords will enjoy a little more luck in the next rounds of the BTCC at Croft in two weeks time on Sunday 1st June.Click here for the Tom Chilton web site - designed and built by Racecar