The Motorbase-run squad showed excellent pace during the weekend’s proceedings, with Tom Chilton and James Cole both breaking into the highly competitive top half of the timing sheets on Saturday, resulting in promising P8 and P12 starting positions from the afternoon qualifying session.
A strong start for the Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher duo delivered mixed results for Cole and Chilton in the opening race. Contact from a competitor on lap 2 pushed Chilton into a potentially race-ending drift and despite an outstanding save from the 33-year-old, the #3 Focus RS dropped down the order as a result. Having worked his way back through the pack and back into the points, a second incident forced him off-track once more and into the pits. Re-joining at the back of the grid, Chilton went on to set the fastest lap of the race – showcasing the race-winning potential of the RS.
Cole’s pace was thankfully better rewarded following a sterling drive from the Liverpool-based driver. Managing to avoid the early on-track incidents, he piloted the #20 Focus RS up into the top 5 during the opening lap and held position to take his first points finish of the weekend.
Race 2 was Chilton’s time to shine. An outstanding drive from 28th on the grid saw the Gallagher-backed racer expertly pick his way through the grid making up an incredible 18 places against all the odds to take 10th at the chequered flag.
Cole’s understated race-craft and consistent pace was further repaid in race 2. In spite of carrying 39kg on success ballast on-board, the #20 Focus RS crossed the line in P6, adding to the team’s weekend points haul.
Starting from 4th on the grid following the reverse grid draw, Cole’s superb start off the line was regrettably short-lived in race 3. Running on the troublesome hard-compound tyre, contact on the opening lap tipped the #20 Focus into a spin and off into the gravel trap – bringing his successful weekend to an abrupt end.
Also running on the hard-compound option tyre, a heroic drive from Chilton during the safety-car interrupted final race saw the #3 Focus RS battle hard to hold position under increasing pressure from the prime-tyre runners and the Reigate-based driver delivered another faultless drive, crossing the line in 9th.
The weekend’s results see Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher move up into 6th place in the Teams’ Standings – ahead of both the BMW and Subaru manufacturer-backed outfits – with both James Cole and Tom Chilton moving up into the top half of the Drivers’ Championship standings after two meetings.
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship now has a three week break before reconvening at the fastest circuit on the calendar, Thruxton, for rounds 6, 7 and 8 on May 19/20.
David Bartrum, Team Principal:
“In a roundabout way, we had a good weekend. James had two great results with a P5 and P6 and Tom came through from the back of the grid after a tough start through no fault of our own.
“Everyone in the team has worked incredibly hard all weekend and the drivers have been on point – it’s just tough when that doesn’t play out on track and in the results. We just haven’t had the luck, yet again, but when we do get the turn of luck I can’t wait! All of the pieces are in place; we just need it to click together.”
#3 Tom Chilton:
“It’s not been the weekend that we hoped for, but we do have the pace in the car which has been the most promising thing this weekend. Even though we got hit off in race 1, we fought our way through and took 3 finishes and fastest lap today. We’ve worked incredibly hard for our points this weekend; I’ve been very busy in the office!
“It’s very frustrating for all of us with how fast we are. We know that we have one of the fastest cars on the grid and all we need is a bit of luck now. We’re not sitting here scratching our heads without an idea of what to do for Thruxton. We have very high expectations and it’s not quite going our way at the moment but I’ve seen many championships won from terrible starts to the year. Hopefully that’s all of our bad luck out of the way now and we can go on to grab that podium at Thruxton.”
#20 James Cole:
“From 12th in qualifying to 5th and 6th is a good result for us this weekend. Unfortunately race 3 killed off what could have been a really, really strong weekend for us. The hard tyre played a big part of that and the oversteer we experienced resulted in the accident that put us and another Motorbase car out of the race.
“It’s great that we finally got to show the potential of the car and team and moving forward we can take a lot of comfort in our pace. We’re in a good place going to Thruxton and we’ve yet to fully show what we’re capable of.”