Team Aon celebrated the end of a successful British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season at Brands Hatch, ending the year as Independent Teams' champions and powering Tom Chilton to the Independent Drivers' title.
The weekend started with a very different focus as Chilton's teammate Tom Onslow-Cole was one the four drivers who began the meeting in contention for the overall drivers' title. However, a race one gearbox failure – suffered while trying to fight forward from tenth on the grid – ended the New Malden driver's title ambitions.
Onslow-Cole's three races on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit quickly turned to a nightmare. Again fighting through the pack – this time from the pack of the grid thanks to his race one DNF – he suffered a hydraulic failure on lap 11, the same problem ending his third race before it had begun as he pulled into the pits after the warm-up lap.
“It’s been a frustrating day and a really bad way to end the season,” said Onslow-Cole. “But we did come here in the title hunt and I’ve still finished fourth in the championship, which is a great achievement for only my third season in the BTCC and so I can go home happy, with the focus on coming back next year even stronger.”
Chilton was fairing far better.
He recovered to seventh place in the first race after a poor start had dropped him down from fifth on the grid. A fifth place in race two set up a three way fight for the Independent Drivers' title between Chilton, Onslow-Cole (whose pre-race retirement would rule him out) and Airwaves BMW driver Steven Kane.
Starting from third on the reverse grid – one place behind Kane – Chilton shadowed the Ulsterman, crucially keeping the chasing pack behind him to clinch the title by just two points.
“It was a hell of a fight to win the Independents Drivers' Trophy and right now it feels like the best thing ever,” beamed Chilton. “We obviously would have loved to have won the series outright, but it is tough to compete with the manufacturer teams, so winning the independents is all we can really ask for; we’ll have a good party tonight!”
Team principal Mike Earle wraps up the weekend: “A fantastic day for Team Aon securing two championship trophies, although it is somewhat bitter sweet as we would have loved to of won the champion outright. Tom Onslow-Cole was desperately unlucky with three DNFs today and so we’re disappointed for him. Tom Chilton did a fantastic job to clinch the Independent Trophy though under extreme pressure so I’m delighted for him and the whole of Team Aon as Independent Team Champions.”