No.5 Tom Chilton – No.44 Andy Neate
'Global' Ford Focus
S2000 chassis, NGTC engine
Debuting the new look Focus adds a new dimension to the team that burst onto the scene in 2010 with LPG-fed Focus. The new car was developed with support from Ford as part of scheme to unite the marque's privateer Touring Car teams from around the world.
Other than the engine – an NGTC unit powered by plain old petrol – the car represents a step forward and the application of the knowledge garnered from 2010 – ask Tom Chilton, who helped build the cars over the off season.
As the current holder of the title it's tough not to place the 25-year-old in the 'favourite' position for the Independents' title – Team Aon once more straddle the line between independent and constructor team – but it must be expected that he will be part of the fight for the honour and the driver everyone else judges themselves by, at least to begin with.
As to whether he can challenge for the overall title, he certainly has the ability to and the team behind him to support him, but the opposition from the leading Chevrolets and Hondas is just that bit stronger than that he will find in the independents’ ranks
After an up-and-down 2010 Tom Onslow-Cole makes way for Andy Neate. Returning to racing in 2010 after a horrific crash two year earlier he admits he struggled in the BMW at WSR, but a move to the Focus gives him the chance he needs to prove himself in the BTCC.
Tom Chilton Onâ€¦..The differences in the new car
“There's a lot of features on the car which are underneath which you can't see that are very, very similar to last year's car which was a great Focus. This one there's a couple of extra mods we've made on the rear and front suspension where we're just looking for a little bits to, not necessarily make it much faster on an overall lap time but it'll make it so much better on a race run because now the whole grid's going to the new NGTC rules with the petrol turbos, turbos produce more torque and it's harder on the tyres so what we've been working on hard on is trying to make it good on its tyres which so far in testing is what we've actually achieved, so at the moment I thinking we've got a good package.”
Andy Neate Onâ€¦..Last year, and this
“Last year was a bit of, well I wouldn't say disaster, but it didn't go how I wanted it to. I didn't get on with the car, I think that was quite clear for everyone to see but this year I'm chasing podiums, I want to score some big points and challenge basically – start challenging for podiums on a regular basis.”
Verdict: Tough title defending season for Chilton, litmus test year for Neate.