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Frustrating Slovakia races for Team Aon

Team Aon drivers James Nash and Tom Chilton endured a frustrating weekend in Slovakia’s round of the World Touring Car Championship, with a single point from Chilton the only reward for the team.

The weekend had started in an extremely positive way for the British squad, with Nash proving the pace of the Ford Focus S2000 TC in first free practice by going third fastest. The British driver proved it was not a one-off performance in the following session, where he was again third fastest.

A strong qualifying session saw Nash qualifying in fourth – however the weekend would begin to unravel thereafter. Nash was given a ten-place grid penalty for failing a ride height check post-qualifying, despite the failure being linked to a component failure. It would mean he faced starting from 14th and 17th respectively for the two races, whilst Chilton would start in 11th and 10th respectively.

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Nash was caught up in an incident with Tiago Monteiro in the first race, and ended up crashing out further around the opening lap. Chilton’s race ended in the gravel when he drove into the back of Alain Menu at the start of the race.

As a result of the damage to his car, Nash was unable to start the second race, whilst Chilton scored a solitary point for the team with a tenth placed finish.

“Today has been what people call ‘character building,” said Nash. “We’ve been quick in all the practice and qualifying sessions this weekend, which is very encouraging. It is a shame therefore that we haven’t been able to demonstrate the real progress we’ve made with the Ford Focus in the races where it really counts.

“Racing is always scrappy on the first lap but the penalty put us back into the thick of the action,” continued Nash. “I actually made quite a good start and got up to 8th but then got hit by Tiago Monteiro’s SEAT. The impact was enough to push me into the gravel which cut through a brake line – though I only discovered this when I stood on the brakes for the next corner and nothing happened!

“The final hit with the barriers was quite hard. Afterwards I got taken to the Medical Centre for a check-up which fortunately proved I was okay.

“The best thing to do now is to put this weekend behind us and look forward. Fortunately, there is only a week until the next races in Hungary and I’ll be more determined than ever there to make up for today’s disappointment.”

Team Principal Mike Earle echoed Nash’s frustrated sentiments, and believes that his team were capable of much stronger results at the weekend.

“It was a frustrating weekend overall,” added Earle. “Very good in parts but very disappointing in others. We came here with a completely new suspension set up which we’ve never run and James did an outstanding job to qualify fourth only to have his times removed due to a minor technical infringement.

“The races didn’t go in our favour either having both cars out on the first lap on the first race. It was also extremely disappointing for James because he had done a fabulous job all weekend and was unable to compete in the second race.

“Tom failed to get any running during the first free practice session and had a shortened free practice two so the first time he was out in the car properly was during qualifying. In the second race Tom got pushed down to 14 but made his way up to tenth and was lapping in same time as the leaders once he had passed the cars ahead of him. Overall it was a weekend of what might have been for the team but we feel we’re making progress with the car.”

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