Tom Chilton returns to the UK and the BTCC for 2017 and has been at Lets Race to discuss the challenges of the BTCC and WTCC plus a sneaky practice to sharpen up his skills on our state of the art simulators.
2017 see’s a British driver doing something that no one has ever contemplated doing before. Tom will compete in a total of 50 races: 30 in the BTCC spread across 10 weekends and 20 in the WTCC at a further 10 events across the world. Tom, who will be collecting some serious air miles over the next 8 months said;
“It’s the first time this has ever been done in these two series, so I’m a bit of a guinea pig.”
After 5 years away from the BTCC Tom returns for 2017 with Power Maxxed Racing in the brand new Vauxhall Astra. With over 10 years racing experience within the BTCC where he amassed 12 victories and a best championship finish of 5 place Tom seems assured that the old tricks will soon come flooding back once he returns some of the UK’s best circuits. “My last BTCC race was at Silverstone in 2011 and I won by keeping Jason Plato behind me,” he says.
“I want to come back as I finished: by winning.”
Whilst acknowledging that this may be a tall order and only having two days of testing before the season opener in April Chilton reckons he can capitalise on the series’ unpredictable racing. “The current BTCC regulations have led to more overtaking and closer action,” he says. “If one car is carrying 75kg of success ballast while running a hard tyre and another car is on the soft tyre option with no extra weight, there will be a difference in lap times of about two seconds.”
This, says Chilton, will create great opportunities for lunges into corners and last-minute overtaking moves. The BTCC is renowned for its tough, bumper-banging racing, and Chilton doesn’t think it will take him long to remember all the old tricks.
“After 10 years in the British Touring Car Championship, you get to know how to drive in it. I’m pretty sure I’ve still got bruises from 10 years ago – all from Plato,” jokes Chilton.
In addition to the BTCC this year Tom will also be participating in the WTCC where he will enjoy more consistency in his Citroën C-Elysée and his second season racing with Sébastien Loeb Racing.
Last season ended positively with Tom picking up 5 race podiums including an impressive race win in Argentina. “I’ve learned the car now. It’s so different from anything else,” he says. “It’s five times more difficult to drive than any other racing car I’ve driven.” With his experience and determination this year Tom believes he is set to be the first driver ever to compete for both titles in the same year and who are we to argue, there aren’t many drivers who have amassed the sort of experience Tom has over the past 15 years.
“I’m pretty confident I can eventually win both championships in the same year, and I’ll be the first driver to do so,” he says. “I’ll let you know just how big the bags under my eyes are after this season is over.”
In between racing all over the world, local boy Tom Chilton will be supporting Lets Race’s own British Touring Car Championship here in Horley, making appearances when he can throughout our 6 round championship. Tom has already been in our simulators and adjusting setups for our 20 strong championship drivers. In addition to the great support, Tom and his team have kindly donated the prize of a lifetime for any BTCC fan. The 2017 Lets Race Touring Car Champion will be invited to join Tom and his team for the last round of the BTCC at Brands Hatch on the 1st of October 2017. Including general admission, a meet and greet with Tom and the team, Pitlane Access and time to explore the car: this is the biggest prize we have announced to date for 2017.
The Lets Race Touring Car Championship will run over 6 rounds here at Lets Race, Horley. For the second season we are hosting a competition for solo drivers replicating the British Touring Car Championship in our very own activity centre. With a total of 6 rounds spanning from March until August, you can mark your calendars off for an invigorating 2017. These races will be taking place on the last Friday of every month.
The first race of the Championship is just over a month away so make sure you clear your schedules for Friday the 31st of March from 7PM. This is an opportunity you definitely won’t want to miss. Make sure you book your rounds quickly because there are only 20 spots available for each round. The twenty drivers will then be divided into two groups of ten drivers by way of a random pool draw (names drawn out of a hat which decide which pool you race in).
Each pool of drivers then take part in the following format;
- 2x 10 Minute Qualifying Sessions (Fastest lap from both sessions decides grid positions for Race 1)
- Race 1 - 10 Minute Race
- Race 2 - 10 Minute Race (grid positions decided from finishing position in Race 1)
- Race 3 - 10 Minute Race (Reverse Grid from Race 2 plus random Grid draw for Pole Position)
Points accumulated over the 3 Races.
Final "Extra Points Race" - 10 Minute Race for the top 5 driver (or top 50%) in each pool.
As per tradition, the winners will be announced on the podium so the drivers know who to beat in the coming rounds.
Join Lets Race and Tom Chilton this year with entry to the Lets Race Touring Car Championship and have the chance to join Tom for the final round of the BTCC at Brand Hatch in October. Find out more at http://www.letsrace.co.uk/btcc-championship.
See you soon,
Commercial Manager @ Lets Race