Promising start to WTCC campaign for Team Aon
Team Aon have ended their first FIA World Touring Car Championship weekend with a respectable race one finish of thirteenth for Tom Chilton and sixteenth for James Nash. While race two provided equally exciting racing and saw the Team Aon Global Ford Focus drivers finish thirteenth (Nash) and sixteenth (Chilton) – on their WTCC debut.
The first race of the 2012 WTCC season saw Nash start from 14th position after a strong qualifying performance yesterday, with team mate Chilton lined up alongside him in 15th.
The rolling start during race one provided a first corner incident in which Nash was unfortunately caught up, in the melee he was tapped on the side and pushed into further cars causing damage to the front of the car and ultimately meaning that he fell down the order. Chilton however had managed to just steer clear of the incidents and fought through the field to eleventh by the end of lap one.
Both drivers held their positions before a safety car on lap five bunched the field together. Chilton and Nash raced well during the restart however the fast approaching car of Alain Menu used Chilton’s slipstream to relegate the BTCC race winner to 12th.
Meanwhile Nash was carrying bodywork damage which had affected his ability to overtake therefore holding him in eighteenth position. As the chequered flag fell Chilton crossed the line in a great thirteenth while Nash had recovered well despite substantial bodywork damage to finish sixteenth.
With race two featuring a standing start, both Team Aon drivers got clean getaway, and at the end of lap one Nash had moved up to 13th and Chilton 14th. Chilton's fortunes were soon to change however when he was tapped from behind in what had become an incident packed race. The heavy contact saw all Chilton's hard work undone, and the British racer dropped from the mid-field to 19th. Chilton was quick to fight back however; overtaking Barlesi one lap later elevating him to seventeenth.
Nash meanwhile had progressed well through the field and was holding on to an extremely strong 12th position in his Global Ford Focus.
With only three laps remaining Chilton was once again driving well through the field after his bad luck and was able to overtake two cars before the chequered flag fell, ensuring he finished the race in sixteenth position. Team mate Nash, who had been putting in consistent sector and lap times throughout the race, crossed the line in an impressive 13th position.
Reflecting on his first World Touring Car Championship race weekend Tom Chilton said, ‘It was great to see that the car has potential in qualifying and race set-up. We didn’t have the greatest of luck during the races but I think we can be proud of what we’ve achieved in our first race weekend.’
Also having competed in his first WTCC weekend James Nash added, ‘The team did a fantastic job all weekend, after the damage from race one they were outstanding when they worked on the car. I think we can be proud to have been so close to the other cars in terms of pace – to be battling with the BMW’s, and other established teams, is really good. I think this shows that we certainly have the potential – all credit to the team this weekend.’
Team Principal Mike Earle added, "This weekend has seen the team go through an almost vertical learning curve - which is what we expected in a new series, on a new track, with a new engine and a highly modified car. We've shown though that we've been very close to the pace of some of the front runners and all in all it's been an incredibly promising start to the season which the team can be proud of."