Tom Chilton says he is ‘over the moon’ with his victory in the opening World Touring Car Championship race at Monza, despite following the result up with a retirement in the Main Race.
The independent Citroën racer led home a Brit 1-2 in the first race of the day at Monza after benefitting when early race leaders Mehdi Bennani and Norbert Michelisz took each other out at the Parabolica on the second lap.
It left Chilton, who had started fourth, in the lead of the race, after he also benefitted when the suspension broke on the Volvo of Néstor Girolami, who was running in front at the time. Later in the race, Chilton had to defend hard from fellow independent Citroën racer Rob Huff, who latched onto the C-Elysée’s rear bumper.
The win was the fifth in Chilton’s WTCC career, and he admits that it is reassuring to win the second event of the season, having previously only ever won races in the second half of the year.
“It was a fantastic race,” said Chilton. “I’m so happy for the team, Sébastien Loeb Racing, who have worked so hard for this.
“It couldn’t have happened at a better time and it’s nice to get a win in early in the season. Rob Huff, next to me, is British and he knows how to fight hard on the race track. He’s a world champion and he’s never easy to keep behind.
“He’s smart and he knew that if we started tangling too much we’d have the whole train [of cars] right up our chuff, and that makes it a whole lot harder around this circuit in particular because of all of the slipstreaming.
“We both pulled away and we raced very well in race one, and I’m absolutely over the moon.”
The Main Race saw Chilton retire with a loss of drive, the Brit suspecting that it was either his gearbox or driveshaft which broke.
“I’m sitting here feeling a bit frustrated because I didn’t finish race two due to a mechanical failure, but that’s motorsport. That’s really hurt me in the WTCC Trophy points; I’m now one point behind in P2, so that’s a bit frustrating, but that’s motorsport and sometimes these things happen.”