Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher celebrated a superb double podium and six, top nine finishes during an action-packed weekend for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park (June 9/10).
Tom Chilton led the charge for the Motorbase-run outfit, claiming the squad’s first two podiums and Independent win of the season, with team-mate James Cole delivering a trio of top nine finishes to help propel them up to 4th in the overall Teams’ Standings.
A strong qualifying performance from the duo on Saturday afternoon saw Chilton snatch P3 in the session’s closing minutes, just 0.332 seconds off pole, with Cole placing in a solid 8th.
After storming off the line to take P2 on the first corner in race 1, Chilton held off a robust challenge from Jordan’s fast charging BMW with an excellent defensive drive. Holding position to the flag whilst closing in on race leader Simpson, he eventually brought the #3 Focus RS home in P2 – claiming the team’s first podium of the season.
Cole also pulled off a text-book start launching the #20 Focus RS up into P6 on the opening lap. Chasing down Neal’s Honda, the Liverpool-based driver looked set to deliver a strong top six finish before losing out to a brave lunge from Turkington on the penultimate lap which dropped him back to 7th at the flag.
With Simpson unable to start race 2, Chilton was promoted to pole position. Running on the soft option tyre with 66kg on-board, the 33-year-old had a big ask against the lighter competition but another outstanding performance from the Reigate-based driver was rewarded with a P3 finish, Independent Race win and his 2nd rostrum visit of the day.
Also running on the soft compound tyre, Cole battled well with a great safe-guarding drive to hold off the charging pack and after trading places with his Motorbase stablemate Sam Tordoff on lap 7, managed to retain his P5 spot to the flag.
Following an initial red flag for race 3, the reversed grid result saw Cole and Chilton switch grid spots for the final contest of the weekend. Starting from P3 laden with 48kg of ballast, Cole was bested by Jordan’s fast-starting BMW off the line. A hard-fought race followed with the #20 coming under persistent challenges from the lighter pack before contact on the final lap forced Cole onto the grass. He recovered well but dropped back to claim 9th overall.
Chilton’s strong weekend was sealed with a 7th place finish in race 3. Despite picking up on a mechanical issue on the warm-up lap, he wrestled the #3 Focus RS throughout the shortened 12 lap race. Serving a first-rate defensive drive, whilst under relentless pressure, the WTCC Independent Champion managed to salvage another credible points haul to complete his best weekend of results so far this season.
As the highest scoring Independent Team of the weekend, Oulton Park’s results have launched Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher into 4th place in the Overall and 3rd in the Independent Teams’ Standings.
Tom Chilton has also moved up into 8th place Overall and 4th in the Indy drivers’ standings, with James Cole in 15th and 9th respectively as the team heads to Croft in North Yorkshire for rounds 13, 14 and 15 on June 23/24.
David Bartum, Team Principal:
“It’s been a great weekend for Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher. We’ve bagged a really good haul of points, which is exactly what we needed to turn our championship challenge around. We’ve moved forward in the standings as a team and also with Tom in P8 and James in P14 now. It gives us something solid to go to Croft with and get ourselves into a strong position at the half way point of the season.
“We’ve had the pace again this weekend. Oulton Park can be very difficult with the heat, but I’m very happy to say that we delivered a car that was very competitive. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the performance of the whole team this weekend.”
#3 Tom Chilton:
“This has been the best weekend of the year for me and the team. I’m really happy to get the first podium – not one but two – and an Indy race win as well. We came here 11th in the standings and leave in 8th so we’re getting a lot closer to where we should be.
“We had a very unusual mechanical issue in race 3 which caused a few problems and without that I think we could have finished around 4th but we managed to hang on in there and get a good result.
“The team have all worked really hard since Thruxton so it’s great to get some silverware! Roll on Croft.”
#20 James Cole:
“It’s been a good weekend, all credit to the car #20 crew. I’d have liked to given them a podium but it wasn’t too be. Race 3 was a frustrating end to the day, going from 6th with a lap to go to 9th, but I can’t really complain with qualifying in the top ten and then following that up with three top ten finishes. We’ve come away with a great points haul from the weekend and moved up in the standings.
“We bounced back from our horror weekend at Thruxton which is what we planned and we can carry this into Croft now in two weeks’ time. If we can finish every weekend in the top five or six then eventually we’ll get our podiums and wins.”