Dominant Chilton takes first win for new Ford in Knockhill opener

Tom Chilton went one better from his pole position by claiming a dominant win in the opening race of the day at Knockhill, while there was drama for championship leader Mat Jackson who failed to score. 

After securing the first pole position for the new ‘global’ Ford Focus in yesterday’s qualifying, Chilton made a great start to lead fellow front-row starter Matt Neal away as the lights went out, with Rob Austin jumping up to third place into Leslies ahead of Frank Wrathall.

The field made their way through the first two corners safely before the first drama of the race took place at turn three when fifth place man Gordon Shedden tried to pass Wrathall up the inside but made contact with the Dynojet Toyota Avensis that put Wrathall into a lurid half-spin, Shedden moving into fourth place while Wrathall recovered in fifth.

Further back, Alex MacDowall was also tagged by Rob Collard in the middle of fast chicane and dropped to the back of the field trying to recover the massive tankslapper through the gravel.

As Chilton began to escape, on lap two Shedden was quick to dispose of Austin for third at Clark, and he was followed by Wrathall who dived up the inside of the Audi for fourth place a corner later into the hairpin.

Jackson was the next man to challenge the sliding Audi and made his move a lap later at Clark Curve, leaving Jason Plato as the next man to try and do so. Plato sized up the Audi into the hairpin but made contact with Tom Onslow-Cole who appeared on his outside, before drving past Plato’s Chevrolet down the main straight.

Onslow-Cole’s attempt to pass Austin was very unsuccessful however as the pair crashed out following contact at Clark, resulting in heavy damage to Onslow-Cole’s Ford and a safety car appearance that wiped out his team-mate Chilton’s lead.

At the restart, Chilton was uncatchable as he went on to take his first win of the season by a comfortable 6.3s, leaving behind him a train of cars lead by Neal. Shedden attacked his slower team-mate but in the end settled for third place and pick up the points, while Wrathall matched his race one result at Snetterton with a fantastic fourth place for the NGTC Toyota.

The late race drama all took place behind them meanwhile, starting when the rapid BMW of Rob collard made a pass on Plato at Scotman’s corner on lap 22, the pair running side-by-side through the dip forcing Plato to cut across the grass at the chicane to avoid contact, dropping him behind James Nash and almost behind Tom Boardman.

Collard then immediately attacked Jackson for fifth and the pair made contact at the chicane as Collard drew alongside, championship leader Jackson suffering a slow puncture that saw him lock up at the hairpin and slither off into the gravel trap.

Collard therefore took fifth position on the tail of the front four, ahead of Triple Eight’s Nash, Chevrolet’s Plato, SEAT’s Boardman and Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan who recovered from 14th place after a lairy two-wheeled moment over the kerbs at Clark earlier in the race.

Behind them it was a dream debut for Nash’s new team-mate Aron Smith who held off the charging Nick Foster in the closing laps for 10th place and a first BTCC point in his first race for Vauxhall.

A relieved Chilton praised his team’s effort after the race, telling ITV4: “It hasn’t come through surprise, it’s come from a lot of testing and every single person from the team working late hours. We’ve got some very clever guys working on the team and they’ve done a great job. I think this is the first signs of what this new Ford can do, i’m sorry its taken over half a year to get there, but it feels great, it feels so good.”

Jackson’s failure to score means that he slips to third in the standings, with Neal and Shedden now tied on points at the top of the table.

Race one results:

1.  Tom Chilton      Arena Ford            27m02.441s
2.  Matt Neal        Honda                   + 6.341s
3.  Gordon Shedden   Honda                   + 6.937s
4.  Frank Wrathall   Dynojet Toyota          + 7.281s
5.  Rob Collard      WSR BMW                 + 8.278s
6.  James Nash       Triple 8 Vauxhall      + 12.043s
7.  Jason Plato      Chevrolet              + 13.925s
8.  Tom Boardman     Special Tuning SEAT    + 15.431s
9.  Andrew Jordan    Eurotech Vauxhall      + 15.952s
10.  Aron Smith       Triple 8 Vauxhall      + 19.306s
11.  Nick Foster      WSR BMW                + 19.491s
12.  Alex MacDowall   Chevrolet              + 20.296s
13.  Paul O’Neill     Tech-Speed Chevrolet   + 20.315s
14.  Andy Neate       Arena Ford             + 22.343s
15.  Dave Newsham     Special Tuning SEAT    + 25.640s
16.  Jeff Smith       Eurotech Vauxhall      + 26.507s
17.  John George      Tech-Speed Chevrolet   + 29.882s
18.  Chris James      ES Chevrolet           + 55.350s
19.  Mat Jackson      Motorbase Ford           + 1 lap
DNF     Martin Byford    AmD Volkswagen           17 laps
DNF     Daniel Welch     Welch Proton             13 laps
DNF     Rob Austin       Rob Austin Audi           6 laps
DNF     Tom Onslow-Cole  Arena Ford                6 laps
DNF     Liam Griffin     Motorbase Ford            3 laps


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