Tom Chilton admits that he is “very comfortable” in his new TC1 RML Chevrolet at last, and is aiming to be the first driver to break Citroën’s dominance and take a victory in 2014.
The Brit is battling to be amongst the ‘best of the rest’ behind the Citroën trio, and believes he is in a strong position to be the first to beat the French team, having ended first practice within two tenths of Yvan Muller who was also running on old tyres.
“Nobody ever knows [the true pace] in free practice because everyone does their own things,” said Chilton to TouringCars.Net. “I was on old tyres – the only driver I had a look at was Muller on old tyres and he was two tenths quicker than me. I was working out everything in my head with the new set-up changes we’ve made and I thought we’d be within a tenth.”
Chilton adds that he is pleased to be so close to the Citroëns – who are now laden with 60 kg more compensation weight than the rest of the field – in first practice. The 29-year-old therefore feels confident for taking the fight to the manufacturer, and explains that he can feel the difference in weight in his own car.
“Looking at the data I made a tenth-of-a-second mistake around the back, so I think we’re a tenth slower than the Citroëns,” explained Chilton. “I’d say that’s good enough to take the fight to Citroën – especially as in qualifying they just need to make a little mistake and me to get it perfect and I might beat them. But it’s a bit ambitious to say that I think!
“When I’m following other cars it feels like I can brake a car length later – it’s noticeable. It’s not about just the one-lap performance though; it’s got to be over a period of a race.”
When questioned as to whether he can beat the Citroën drivers this weekend, Chilton remained optimistic. “I think so. I think it’s between me, Tarquini, Michelisz and maybe Valente. I’m really, really happy because it’s the first time I’ve driven the car and gone ‘I like this now’.”
With wet weather forecast for both Saturday and Sunday at the Hungaroring, Chilton feels that this could affect his and the team’s progress, having had little running with the new car in the wet.
“What’s really annoying is that I think finally we’ve got a perfect dry set-up but what we don’t have yet is a perfect wet set-up,” added Chilton. “When it rains later we’ll be all over it again – [spending] hours in debriefs, going through data trying to figure it out. We haven’t done any testing in the wet, but I’ve got a great bunch of guys here working with me. We’ve got some great engineers from RML and we’ll be able to figure something out.”