The race weekend at Donington started with a carbon-copy of Brands Hatch a few weeks earlier; the wet, difficult conditions meant setting a flying lap in between red flags was almost impossible. That meant our drivers Ollie Jackson and Tom Chilton could only secure P11 and P13 slots on the grid respectively.
Race One proved a mixed bag for us; on Tom’s side of the garage we were all very happy with a solid drive and P8 finish with the 48kg of ballast on-board, but sadly Ollie’s weekend was ruined when he was caught up in a multiple car incident on the opening lap, resulting in a DNF and substantial damage to the #48 Focus.
The crew worked their magic to get Ollie back out for Race Two – no small feat considering the heavy impact, and the fact the delay to Race 1 meant there was just over two hours before the flag dropped for the second race of the day. Their efforts were rewarded with a great drive from Ollie; he battled through from the back of the grid to make up an impressive 16 places to bring the rebuilt RS home in P11, and earn his first points of the season.
Teammate, Chilton, had an excellent Race Two too. With the ballast dropping to just 12kg he showed the RS’s race-winning pace from the start, quickly finding himself in the battle for podium places. A late safety car bunched the pack, but a late move for the final step on the podium proved just too far out of reach; although Tom knew that the consistent drives he’d already put in so far this season would mean the P4 finish would see him top the overall Drivers Standings after the second race, so he was not in the mood to throw that all away for a late lunge.
The third and final race was a case of damage limitation for both drivers, as they both ran the harder tyre. In fact, it became something of a mini ‘hard tyre’ race among the drivers that were running the less-favoured rubber; Tom made it six out of six points finishes in P12, while Ollie just missed out on netting more points in P16.
Team manager, Oly Collins, was impressed with the performance of both cars, and explains that Ollie would have been on for a serious points haul had it not been for the bad luck on the opening lap of the weekend: “Ollie was desperately unlucky again to lose what should have been a good Race One result, but he did the team proud who worked so hard to fix the damage with a great drive from the back of the grid in Race Two.
“Tom is doing a great job, consistency wins the BTCC and he knows that. It’s a great start to the season with 6 out of 6 points finishes, which sees him at the sharp end of both championships.”
As we head to the next round at Thruxton on May 18/19, Tom is sitting atop the Independent Drivers table, and is still very much in the mix for the overall Drivers Championship too, just five points off the lead. This season is shaping up to be incredibly exciting, and we’ll be doing our very best to ensure we’re still in the hunt come the final rounds at Brands in October…