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BTCC's Chilton expects 'great chance' for Vauxhall this weekend

Tuesday, March 28 2017

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race-winner Tom Chilton tested at Brands Hatch yesterday (Monday) as he prepares to make his comeback with fellow returnees Vauxhall this weekend (1/2 April) at Brands Hatch.

Tom was last seen in the BTCC in 2011, his tenth year in the series, and since then he's raced in the WTCC, whilst his Formula 1-driving brother Max grabbed the family limelight. With Max now racing IndyCars in America, Tom is back in the BTCC with Vauxhall, last seen in 2009.

Tom, who lives in Reigate, is pleased to be making his comeback at his home circuit. "I've done a lot of instructing in lots of different cars around here," he said. "I've been trying to set up the new Vauxhall Astra around Brands. I love this circuit, I qualified on pole here last time I was driving an Astra in 2006 and I won my last BTCC race in 2011, so I'd love to get out of the box and win the first."

Tom's previous sojourn with Vauxhall was in 2007, when Triple 8 ran the team. This time, however, Power Maxed Racing will be preparing the cars. The outfit win praise for its debut season performance two years ago, when Josh Cook and Dave Newsham drove Chevrolet Cruzes.

"The car when we first drove it did very different things from what the Chevrolet did when I was driving it," Tom said. "It has a lot shorter wheelbase, so we've had to do a lot of adjustments to the chassis. I've had to do a lot of work, but now I feel like its flying. I just finished that last race run thinking I'm pretty happy with it!"

Finding a balance is crucial, since 32 cars will be attempting to qualify on the 1.2 mile Indy circuit this weekend, so making the most of a clear lap will be key. "It's pretty crazy," Tom agreed. "Everyone's going to be leaving the pitlane thinking they can win and they're probably right. For us it's a massive great unknown, but I'm positive. If you're not there's no point going out, you might as well wind your window down and go 'after you'! We think we've got a great chance."

If the Vauxhall Astras qualify well on Saturday, it will be testament to Tom's knowledge of Brands Hatch. Despite 2017 marking 15 years since he made his BTCC debut, appropriately enough in an Astra, he's still a mere 32 years-old, but has already made future plans involving the track: "I've spent so much time here over the last few years, I've said I want a quarter of my ashes spread somewhere at Brands Hatch, half in Cornwall where I spent a lot of time as a kid in the summer holidays, and the other quarter in Barbados so they get to have a holiday!"

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch on 1/2 April are available from £27, with free entry for under-13s. For more information or to book, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.