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Tom Chilton: ‘I think we’ll start doing better now’

Tom Chilton left Snetterton in an optimistic mood, after the Power Maxed Racing driver endured his second-best weekend of the year in the British Touring Car Championship.

Having qualified in 16th position for race one, Chilton made up ground in the day’s opening race to take tenth, before following up with 12th in race two and another tenth in race three, just behind his team-mate Senna Proctor.

The Vauxhall racer believes that his competitiveness came from further changes made to the team’s new Astra during the summer break, combined with the ability to test those changes out at the two-day tyre test in the run up to the event.

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“For us that’s our second-best weekend after Brands,” said Chilton to TouringCars.Net. “It’s been a really good weekend for us, actually. I think we would have been 2.8 seconds off the pace if we hadn’t done the testing and the work we did.

“We’ve made nine modifications to the car and we did two days of testing, and we ended up being only about 1.3 seconds off the pace, so we made it a lot faster.

“We’ve still got a chunk to find, don’t get me wrong, but we really, really have made big progress with the car.”

Although the new car is strong in the race, Chilton added that the team have got more work to do in order to optimise the way the Astra uses its tyres in both qualifying and race trim.

“Our car is fantastic on soft tyres – both Senna and I had storming races when we were on soft tyres. We’ve known that all season, but with some of the new work we’ve done we’ve made it even better which is telling me we need to change the car a little bit for the medium option tyre to get more out of it.

“I did my fastest lap on my third lap in qualifying and everyone’s telling me I should be doing it on my first or second lap. It’s taken us three laps [to get up to temperature] and the fourth lap wasn’t much different to my third lap.”

“We’ve got everything working quite nicely, but it means we need to optimise tyres. It worries me a little bit going to Knockhill where it’s freezing cold and there aren’t many corners around a short lap – it will be quite hard to get a tyre ready there for qualifying.”

Although Chilton believes his strong point is his race pace, he added that the threat of another driving standards strike, which could lead to a one-race ban, is also holding him back during the races.

“I was having to slow myself up not to touch anyone in race one; I can’t risk overtaking at the moment because if I touch someone I’m not allowed to get in the car in the next race because of the strikes.

“It’s why you see me just following like a sheep and you’re not getting the Tom Chilton you’re used to seeing, because I’m too worried about not doing a race. As soon as you don’t do a race there’s no point in turning up is there? That’s harsh.

“Even though I feel like sometimes the car might be quite good under me in the race, because we have a good race car just not a good qualifying car, I have to drive like a girl’s blouse and keep it in one piece.”

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