Snetterton test shows Chilton still the one to catch

Chilton Man To Catch Again Today's official British Touring Car Championship test produced a similar story this year with Team Aon's Tom Chilton topping the time sheets, just like he has done on three occasions already during this season's ...


Chilton Man To Catch Again

Today's official British Touring Car Championship test produced a similar story this year with Team Aon's Tom Chilton topping the time sheets, just like he has done on three occasions already during this season's qualifying.

With the Championship currently in its summer break many of the teams decided to take advantage of today's official test at Snetterton, the place where the series visits next in just two weeks time.

Although surprisingly current points leader Matt Neal was not present at the test with Honda Racing, who also lead the teams' championship, perhaps gave an advantage to his main title rivals. Not present also were Dave Pinkney, Lea Wood and Tom Boardman who put in a couple of good performances during the recent World Touring Car meeting at Brands Hatch.

It was Chilton who produced the quickest lap of the day, which he did late in the afternoon on a dry track after heavy rain and even lightning bolts, which came down shortly after the morning session.

With such difficult conditions some drivers decided against taking to the track in the afternoon as five of them decided to end their day or testing during the lunch hour.

Chilton's lap in the afternoon was well within the lap record and was a full second quicker than anyone else managed and half a second quicker than the top morning session time set by the Chevrolet of Alex MacDowall.

Chilton said after the test, "I was struggling for pace this morning but we've worked hard on our brakes and front geometry settings and it's turned it around for us. It's a shame it rained as that's meant yet again I've missed out on doing a race run so I'm still a little nervous about our form in actual race trim. Maybe it's something I'll have to focus on during free practice back here in a couple of weeks for the race weekend."

Morning pace setter MacDowall didn't have quite as good an afternoon with engine trouble grinding his car to a halt on the circuit and preventing him from setting a competitive time during the final session.

Third quickest was a stunning Paul O'Neill for Sunshine.co.uk in his Honda Integra. Last year O'Neill scored a hugely emotional podium finish at Snetterton and he will be hoping for more of the same in two weeks time. O'Neill set his time during the morning and was one of the drivers who decided against taking part in the afternoon.

Fourth was the second Chevrolet of Jason Plato who hopes he will be able to take advantage of attending the test where he aims to close the gap to points leader Neal when they return to the circuit.

Next up was James Nash who won at Snetterton last year on the road in a Chevrolet Lacetti. Nash was in the sole Triple 8 Vauxhall Vectra and set the 2nd quickest time during the afternoon. He was just ahead of Croft winner Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Vauxhall Vectra. Jordan did experience more problems in the morning from his NGTC Turbo engine and did not take to the track in the rain during the afternoon.

Tom Onslow-Cole was next up in the second Team Aon Ford Focus after he recovered from an earlier bouncy excursion off track, which put him behind in his plans for the day after it caused damage to the front of the car. It was earlier announced in the season that a third Ford Focus would take to the track at Snetterton but team boss Mike Earle today retracted that statement and said that the two-car team would remain.

From 8th to 11th were the four BMW's belonging to Airwaves BMW and WSR who were still on a real high following reigning BTCC champion Colin Turkington's double podium finish at last weekend's WTCC event. Mat Jackson and Steven Kane were 8th and 10th for Airwaves BMW with Rob Collard and Andy Neate 9th and 11th for WSR.

John George was next up in the second Sunshine.co.uk Honda Integra and he finished ahead of Shaun Hollamby in the VW Golf.

Hollamby took full advantage of the test and completed a total of 79 laps during the day in his improving AmD Miltek Golf. Although reliability is getting better Hollamby did still manage to cause just one of two red flags of the day stopping on track with electrical issues, the other being MacDowall.

The two Forster Motorsport BMW's were next up with Arthur Forster, who had a similar experience to Onslow-Cole during the day, finishing ahead of his teammate Martin Depper. The final driver completing the test was Martin Johnson who finished at the end of the times in his Boulevard Vauxhall Astra Coupe.

This test proved as a warm up to the return of the series when the second half of the season kicks off at the same circuit on the 7th and 8th August. So stay tuned to motorsport.com for all news during and prior to the event.

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Series BTCC
Drivers Tom Chilton , Paul O'Neill , Arthur Forster , Jason Plato , Matt Neal , Steven Kane , Tom Boardman , John George , Tom Onslow-Cole , Andrew Jordan , James Nash , Mat Jackson , Andy Neate , Martin Depper , Lea Wood , Shaun Hollamby , Alex MacDowall