After a strong 2018 season with the Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher Ford Focus RS where he finished third overall in the drivers standings and second in the independents. Tom Chilton is looking towards climbing that table higher in the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
With the Focus RS becoming quite a formidable package at the tail end of last season, there is hope within the Motorbase Performance camp that the car can be refined further and become the one to beat in 2019.
The Checkered Flag caught up with Tom to talk about 2019 and what he hopes to achieve by the end of it all.
The Checkered Flag: After the strong campaign in 2018 you must be pleased to be remaining with Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher into the new season.
Tom Chilton: “I am indeed! I believe that consistency is the key to winning championships, you can go and build a new car and it might be quick at one or two race tracks and you might get a win. But, you won’t win a championship with a brand new car.
“You have to iron out all the creases because every circuit requires different handling and as much as you might have your perfect setup from the year before, as soon as you change chassis or teams things will always be a little bit different and you have to have a year to fine tune things.
“For me, to finish third first year out of the box was fantastic and shows what a good job we did with the car and I really believe another year just fine tuning everything we’ve got, we’ve got a genuine chance for the championship. I’ll probably be upset if I don’t win it this year! (laughs)”
TCF: Before a season, every driver’s aim is to go for victories and titles. Are there any other targets that you set yourself before a season that fans might not know about?
TC: “At the moment I don’t have any other targets this year. In the past when I’ve tried to do two championships whether it was American LeMans, European LeMans and British Touring Cars or the British and World Touring Cars together. You can only ever do well in one of the championships you’re in, you can never do well in both of them because you can’t perfect everything all the time and you always have your favourite and you go for that.
“To select the British Touring Cars and fully focus on that this year might lead to the success I believe. I love everyone down at Motorbase Performance, they’re a great race team and it’s great that our sponsors have followed through for a second year and we’re always pushing.
“I really believe that with all the work done on the chassis it’s going to be an improvement and we go Winter testing and hope that Winter doesn’t come late and Jon Snow doesn’t come.”
TCF: Leading up to the new season, are there any other teams or drivers that you’re keeping an eye on?
TC: “Everybody on the grid is very good.
“I’ve gotta be completely honest, everybody on the British Touring Car Championship is so good. I swear when I first started racing in the British Touring Cars back when I just turned seventeen you always had your top five or maybe top six and the rest were just tailing off due to a big time difference between teammates and things like that.
“But now, the differences between teammates is a tenth and a half or two tenths and all the cars are within a second a lap. When you look at the times and you have six or nine cars every round within the tenth of a second it’s just bonkers!
“That’s what I love about the British championship. If you’re not on your A-game you won’t be second, you’ll be eighteenth!”
TCF: Are you looking forward to having Ollie Jackson as your teammate for 2019?
TC: “I am yes. I did a quick test at the end of last year at Snetterton and a couple other drivers were also testing and out of all the drivers the one with the best feedback and the fastest out of all of them was Ollie Jackson.
“The other three drivers, although they’ve won races and championships in MINI’s or Clio’s and Porsche’s, they’re really good drivers but they weren’t quick compared to Ollie and I thought Ollie gave the best feedback and I actually believe we’ll be a strong team this year because we’re gonna have two quick drivers. That’s going to be good to drive the team forward.
“I’ve got to say though on the record that I’m actually sad that I’ve lost James Cole and Sam Tordoff as teammates because I got on really well with them. They were both really fun guys to be around and it didn’t matter whether it was a good day or a bad day in the office we always had a laugh and that’s really important.
“People forget that as a racing driver you are living the dream. You’ve got the best job in the world and you’re having lots of fun. But, there’s huge pressure on your shoulders from sponsors, the team and what you put on yourself. It’s so easy to forget that you’re in this amazing position and you should just go and enjoy yourself. Last year I had a really good time and it really showed on track.”