Team Aon qualify in top 15 for first ever WTCC race
Team Aon have completed their first qualifying session in the 2012 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) at the historic Autodromo di Monza, Italy. James Nash and Tom Chilton qualified 14th and 15th respectively on their debut in the highly revered championship piloting the Global Ford Focus on the world stage.
Two morning free practice sessions in the Italian sunshine provided the team with the opportunity to make further set-up changes to both cars in preparation for the first WTCC qualifying session of the year.
The warm Italian weather continued into the afternoon with both Chilton and Nash taking to the track during Q1 confident of the changes made to the car earlier in the day. This confidence ensured that they were both able to immediately push hard in order to get a good time on the board early in the session.
After a few consistent laps, which put Chilton P15 and Nash P16, both drivers pitted at the mid-way point of the session for new tyres before heading back out for the final seven minutes of Q1. Nash quickly put in three great sector times which placed him in P13, just outside of the required twelfth position to progress into Q2.
With only minutes remaining both Nash and Chilton were improving quickly in their first WTCC qualifying session however a red flag with less than two minutes to go took away any chance of finishing their flying laps, or getting out again during the session to start a new one. This disruption to the session meant that Nash finished the session in P14 while Chilton will line up just behind him P15.
This result means that both Nash and Chilton qualified within the top fifteen on their first, and the team’s first, World Touring Car Championship event.
Reflecting on his successful first WTCC qualifying session Nash said, ‘I think I could have found that extra couple of tenths during qualifying today to have made it into Q2 but obviously with the red flag there wasn’t the opportunity. It was a challenging session but every time we get out on track we were improving and I’m aiming to hit the track and continue to improve throughout tomorrow’s races.’
Having qualified in 15th position Chilton said, ‘I think we can be pleased to say that as a new team on our first event we’re close to last year’s pole position time, with no previous experience with this engine or around this track. I think we certainly have it in us to be further up there, it’s just a shame that the red flag towards the end meant that I couldn’t finish my fastest lap to see what else the car was capable of today.’
Team Manager Alan Cole said, ‘Both drivers and the team did a brilliant job not only this afternoon but over the past few days in preparing the car for this qualifying session. We’ve had a few little teething issues which held us back from being a little further up the grid but overall a very positive first qualifying experience especially considering that we’ve closed the gap to the front runners already.
‘James and Tom did exceptionally well and the entire team have worked incredibly hard to be where they are today.’
The first race of the 2012 WTCC season gets underway tomorrow at 13.20 local time.