In front of a large Honda enthusiast contingent at Brands - Tom delivered the goods in the season finale.
Tom wrapped up his 2008 season with a deserved victory in the final round of this years British Touring Car Championship, taking a lights to flag win at Brands Hatch in his Team Halfords Honda Civic.
It was a fitting end to a weekend where Tom had shown fantastic pace, but had to be patient after a disaster in qualifying forced him to begin the first of the three races from way down the grid.
Things had started well enough with Tom fastest in Saturday morning’s practice sessions, matching his own lap record in the process. The afternoon’s qualifying runs didn’t produce the hoped-for pole position after his car suffered a shock-absorber failure after just two laps. Tom had to be content with a much slower lap than he knew he could set and he would be 13th on the grid.
“I was very disappointed after qualifying as was the whole team” Tom explained, “The Honda was fantastic in practice and we had a definite chance to be on pole here, but it wasn’t to be. Now I’ve got to try and get through the first two races, improving as much as I can and then hope to be a lot nearer the front at the start of the last race. I know we can still have a good result, but it will be hard.”
Tom kicked off with a controlled drive in the first race, patiently picking his moments and moving up through the field to finish 8th. It was a great effort around the tight Brands Indy circuit where overtaking is notoriously difficult. In the second race he again had to wait for the right chances and when they came he took them well, crossing the line 6th. That meant he would benefit from the reversing of the top eight finishers for the start of the final race. Now lined up 3rd on the grid, Tom saw his opportunity and grabbed it.
A fantastic start from the second row gave Tom the lead by the first corner and he never looked back. He was under pressure for the whole race from Tom Onslow-Cole in the Vauxhall, but didn’t make a single mistake. He showed the pace that was there through Saturday’s practice sessions and took the victory to the absolute delight of the Team Halford’s crew.
Obviously he was over the moon, celebrating on the podium, a fantastic way to end the 2008 season.
“Wow. I think we deserved that.” he said, “Everyone was really frustrated after the damper broke in qualifying, but nobody gave up. We knew we had a very quick car here and I want to thank the whole of the team for their hard work and determination. I set myself a target in each of the races always hoped to win the last one. It’s a brilliant end to the season.”