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Tom Chilton predicting ‘strong’ Monza race pace

Tom Chilton is predicting that he will have strong race pace in this weekend’s World Touring Car Championship races at Monza in Italy, where top speed and slipstreaming will be the key.

Off the back of the top ten finishes in the season opening event in Morocco, Chilton is aiming to close the gap to the pace-setting Hondas at the front, who he predicts will struggle this weekend.

Having been second fastest in the official pre-season test, just behind fellow Citroën racer Rob Huff, Chilton heads to the north Italian venue in a confident mood.

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“I was second quickest in testing there, so I would say we’re quite strong in general,” said Chilton. “I think we were quite strong in Marrakech, and I did more overtaking than anyone in those two races.

“The car is quite strong, especially in race pace. We’re still finding a bit in qualifying, but I’m very happy with my race car at the moment.”

The Brit is predicting that the factory Honda Civics will struggle more at the high-speed circuit, even if he acknowledges that their pace in the pre-season test was not likely to have been representative.

“I’m hoping the Hondas are going to struggle,” added Chilton. “Even if they don’t struggle then they’re going to get loads of lead [compensation weight] because they’re on 0 kg and we’re on 50 kg and we could get some taken out, so that could really change things.

“They were losing like 12 car lengths on me on the straight when I was there last time, and usually they are within a car length of us, so they must have completely turned [the engines] down to the point where they know that their new engine is actually quite strong.”

Chilton, who made his WTCC début at Monza in 2012, has previously stood on the Monza podium when he raced with RML in 2013.

“In the last races I did there I finished second and fifth and it was a good weekend. I like Monza a lot, it’s a great circuit and the place has so much history and heritage and the people and fans are fanatics. I’m really excited, it’s all to play for.”

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