Following a successful finale to the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, there’s finally chance for Team Aon to reflect on an eventful season which has seen the Littlehampton team take the new Global Ford Focus Touring Car from its earliest incarnation to a race winning car. After a podium at the first race of the year, Team Aon drivers Tom Chilton, Andy Neate and Tom Onslow-Cole have been instrumental in providing great feedback to the team throughout the season to push forward the development of the new car. Following its first season in the competitive BTCC, the new Focus has claimed five podiums including two race wins.
Team Aon have worked tirelessly on the Global Ford Focus Touring Car since February and it was at the seventh round of the season at Knockhill where the team’s hard work began to pay off. Chilton stormed to pole position and took the subsequent win at the Scottish circuit – showing the true capability of the car.
Brands Hatch saw the Global Ford Focus take a further step in the right direction; the first race of the weekend provided all three cars with a top ten finish. In the second race of the weekend, Onslow-Cole made a trip to the podium, adding a third trophy to the 2011 race collection. A small mistake on the penultimate lap cost Neate a podium in race three, however all three drivers consistently scored points during the weekend.
The final race of the season at Silverstone provided one of the most successful weekends of the year for Team Aon. Chilton was immediately on the pace and topped the time sheets during the first practice session. All three Ford Focus cars qualified in the top ten however Onslow-Cole was demoted to 11th following a steward’s decision.
The pace of the car became clear in race one with all three drivers providing some great action and completing brilliant overtaking manoeuvres. Onslow-Cole impressively clinched third position in race two just behind both Honda drivers. However it was the final race of the season which proved the pace of the Team Aon car. Starting from second on the grid Chilton snatched first position in the first corner, dealing extremely well with the pressure and holding his own to win against an unballasted Chevrolet in Jason Plato’s hands. Plato’s Chevrolet had also benefited from several years of development by both the BTCC and World Touring Car Championship teams, making Chilton’s win even more impressive.
As the chequered flag fell for the final time in 2011 Team Aon can be extremely proud to have walked away with one pole position, five podiums, including two stunning wins in the Global Ford Focus.
Reflecting on a positive end to the season, Tom Chilton said, “We knew that this car was going to be quick but the biggest problem we’ve been faced with has been the lack of testing. So when you’re going up against cars that have had years worth of testing and development it is a little tough. Knockhill was a turning point for us, we had a great test session the week before and when we got to the track we were so quick from the start – and then I took the first win in the Global Ford Focus which I was really proud of.
“Over the last few races we consistently finished in the points which has been great because we’ve been able to show what our car is really capable of. I’m extremely happy with how the second half of the year has gone and I’ve been impressed with how hard the guys at Arena have worked on this car.”
Team Principle Mike Earle added, “Given the fact that we started work on the new Focus quite late I’m delighted with the way the whole team and particularly the drivers have never waivered in their endeavours to move development of the car on - and ultimately bring a competitive package to the race track.
“With there being such limited testing in the BTCC we were in effect testing in public which is neither desirable nor easy. I would like to thank everybody in the team for their effort. We have a heavy test and development programme ahead of us so we look forward to a successful 2012.”Click here for the Tom Chilton web site - designed and built by Racecar