Tom Chilton believes he has turned a corner with his Excelr8 Motorsport-run Hyundai i30 in the British Touring Car Championship, after he qualified in eighth for the opening race at Croft.
Prior to this weekend, Chilton had not been in the top ten in qualifying all year, and his effort on Saturday was his best qualifying result since Croft in 2020.
The 37-year-old enthused about setup changes which have been made to help him move up the grid, with three of the team’s four Hyundais qualifying in the top ten.
“We’ve changed an awful lot this weekend on my car, and I’m eighth, so I’m getting closer and I’m only two tenths off Dan [Lloyd] and Tom [Ingram], whereas before I was on average seven tenths off, so it’s nice to be getting a lot closer to where I should be,” said Chilton to TouringCars.Net.
“I actually could have a really good weekend. At the moment this is looking like my strongest weekend so far.
“I love Croft. At one point I did have three podiums over six races here [in 2019-2020] – I like this circuit.
“This weekend is going well for me and my team, we’ve got three cars in the top ten, and James Gornall, who has just rocked up, has just whacked it in 15th. As a team we’re on average probably the strongest team on the grid.”
Chilton praised the efforts of Team Principal Justina Williams and Antony Williams for making him feel welcome in the team, which he joined at the start of the season after one year in rear-wheel drive last year with Ciceley Motorsport.
“I’ve now got the car I wanted at the start of the year. It’s doing everything I want it to do and I’m having fun – I’m enjoying drifting and going sideways, and it’s doing what I want, which is great. It’s not bouncing everywhere which it was going before.
“I really like the team – I love Antony and Justine and they’re really proactive and they’ve done everything I’ve asked this year. I’ve been working very, very hard with them all and my new engineer Adam [Berrisford].
“It’s really nice because when I’m talking with them they’re understanding the issues I’m having and they’re not just saying ‘it must be you’.
“They’re working hard towards it and they’re changing things and listening to me, which is nice. I’ve done this for two decades…”
Chilton also reiterated his preference for an oversteering car, which he feels the front-wheel drive Hyundai i30 Fastback is now giving him.
“I love powerslides, so last year I was really excited about drifting everywhere. But I found out that the BMWs go in with an awful lot of understeer and they lock inside fronts quite easily.
“It makes it then like just sitting in an armchair of understeer and waiting, and it became not that enjoyable for me.
“I’m one of those people who when I’m smiling in my helmet, I’m quite fast, and I’ve been smiling this weekend. I’ve been drifting around every single corner.
“But it’s just fun because you go in sideways, as that’s how I drive, so I’m getting back to what I like and enjoy.
“I can’t stand an understeering car, and that’s what the BMW was to me. I love oversteer, because you can always just do a tiny input and change the angle at any point, whether with the brake or the throttle, and you always change the way the car rotates in and I love that.”