Tom Chilton believes his current winter regime is the most rigorous of his career thus far as the Motorbase Performance driver chases a first overall British Touring Car Championship crown.
Chilton – who recently completed a week of running alongside a host of BTCC teams and new Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher team-mate James Cole at Parcmotor Castelloli in Spain – believes the Kent-based squad now have everything in place to mount a title challenge.
He estimated the new-for-2018 Ford Focus RS had completed the most laps of any other outfit on circuit, with a particular focus on the chassis.
“I’m going to put it out there and say that was probably the most productive week of testing I’ve ever had,” said Chilton.
“I think I probably completed the most laps out of any driver there, we did a lot of work on chassis and everything felt fantastic.
“When you first look at the car the bumpers are the first thing that grab your attention but the Motorbase boys have done a lot of work underneath and I think we’ll be in really good shape come Brands Hatch.”
The 2010 Independent Drivers Champion returned to the UK’s headline tin-top series last year behind the wheel of a Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra alongside continuing commitments to Sebastien Loeb Racing in the now-suspended World Touring Car Championship.
Despite a year back on domestic shores, the 32-year old feels more settled ahead of the new campaign after re-joining old partners Motorbase.
“It does feel like coming home to Motorbase, and they’re only half an hour down the road so in a sense I definitely regard them as my ‘local team’,” he said.
“I’ve thought before that whilst Motorbase have always had a very strong history of drivers – Andrew Jordan, Fabrizio Giovanardi and so on – there’s always been something just missing with the Focus ST. With the new RS package we have in place for this year, and with an engineering setup boasting years of experience, I finally feel now we have that and we can push on this year.”
After telling TouringCars.net at Donington Park last Spring that racing dual campaigns at home and abroad in 2017 was helpful in determining where to align his long-term career aspirations, Chilton also revealed that offers had continued to pour in after his announcement at Motorbase and a decision was taken late to shelve international racing plans for the foreseeable future.
“I hadn’t decided until after I’d signed a deal with Motorbase, and obviously WTCC was changing at the time. It was nice to receive more offers, including one team in WTCR and be in demand, but I’m working harder than ever to become British champion. I think my current work rate and preparation is probably the highest it’s ever been during my career.”