The 2011 British Touring Car Championship ended in the best possible way for Team Aon, Tom Chilton taking the squad's second race win of the year.
The Arena Motorsport run Global Ford Focuses had been on the pace weekend, all three drivers – Chilton, Tom Onslow–Cole and Andy Neate – qualifying in the top eleven after the half hour qualifying session after Chilton had begun the meeting by setting the fastest time in the first free practice session.
Once racing began on Sunday Tom Onslow-Cole led the way for Mike Earle's team, taking a fourth place in the opening race, before moving to third to claim the final step on the podium in race two behind the two works run Honda Civics. Thus Tom also claimed his first Independents' race win of the season for the team.
However, the final race presented Chilton with his opportunity. After battling to eighth in the second race after contact early on in the race he was handed a second placed start, alongside Alex MacDowall, after the random reverse grid.
Chilton beat both a slow starting MacDowall and his Chevrolet teammate Jason Plato off the line to take the lead into the first corner, holding Plato – the out-going BTCC champion back into throughout the 22 lap race.
The result – and the weekend in general left the team to reflect on a first season with the new style of Focus.
Mike Earle explained; “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.”
“On a racing car there's only so many things you can change but we've done a couple of tweeks on every single part of the car,” Tom Chilton told The Checkered Flag after stepping off the podium. “In motor racing there's never that one thing that makes a car quicker, it's usually lots of little bits. We did lots of little bit in a test at Snetterton which was the week before Knockhill and I went straight out of the box at Knockhill and the car went as quick as it did all weekend. That's where the car was at.”
“I'm really proud of Team Aon, really proud of what they've done. We've got five podiums in the new Global Ford Focuses first year and I think Honda in their first year only got one podium so credit to these guys and what they've done.”
Chilton explained how the, since the major development work was performed over the winter before the season the handles better in the colder conditions, such as those presented by the Silverstone late afternoon. However, with further testing Chilton hopes the car can become a consistent performer, and Earle is already planning another busy off-season.
“We actually set the car up in freezing cold and because this is one of the latest races we've done this year and the circuit's very cold it actually suited our car,” said Chilton. “If we go away and do winter for a couple of weeks in Spain we'll have a car which is good for the hot. I'm happy we've got a car which will be ready for next year. It'll be good in hot and cold conditions and it should be a race winner everywhere.”