Team Halfords has confirmed the signing of Tom Chilton
to partner Gordon Shedden
for the 2008 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season.
The 22-year-old will join the double champions after two seasons alongside Fabrizio Giovanardi
at VX Racing, meaning he will effectively swap seats with Matt Neal
who goes the other way to join the Vauxhall factory squad for the new campaign.
Despite his young years, Chilton will be entering his seventh season in the BTCC, with six wins during a career that has also seen him drive for Barwell, the Honda factory team and Arena Motorsport – his victories all coming while driving for the latter, including a win at Silverstone
in 2004 that made him the youngest race winner in season history.
However, two seasons with Vauxhall have been far from easy for Chilton, with Giovanardi taking victory twelve times in that while the young Briton remained winless – something that he aims to put right during the year ahead.
"Matt and I have basically done a driver swap and I am very happy to be joining Team Halfords," he said. "Dynamics are just like my old team Arena Motorsport in that they are a closely knit, family-run team. They have been hugely successful with two drivers' titles and lots of Independents titles and I reckon the Honda Civic will be the fastest car on the grid next year. I go where I think I can win, so I'm really excited.”
Chilton added that he feels his chances of success will be better with the Civic, which won five times in 2007 despite no pre-season testing, than with the Vectra that secured the drivers' title for Giovanardi during the past year, and said he was confident of being a contender for a first BTCC
"I think the Civic will be better suited to my driving style than the Vectra and this is the best drive that I could be in for the 2008 season, full stop,” he said. “I have no doubt that this is the best seat that was available in the BTCC. Gordon and Matt finished third and fourth in the championship last season and the car hadn't done any pre-season testing, so it shows how much it was developed during the year. At Thruxton
when I was following Matt in the Vectra, we were pretty much the same everywhere although the Honda was better under braking. However, I feel there is still a lot to come from the Civic.
“This will be my seventh year in the BTCC, I've won races before and shown I can run at the front and now want to win the title. This is my chance to do that.”