Team Aon was left delighted with the results of qualifying for the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship season finale at Brands Hatch after Tom Chilton secured the team's first pole with its Ford Focus ST.
Having been well off the pace at the start of the season, the Focus has improved noticeably in recent meetings, with Chilton taking a breakthrough podium last time out at Rockingham.
The car was on the pace throughout practice as the BTCC returned to the longer GP layout at the famous Brands Hatch circuit, with Chilton posting the quickest time during practice, and he then carried his form into qualifying to pick up the first pole for a Ford driver in the BTCC since the 2000 season – when Rickard Rydell took pole in his Mondeo at Silverstone.
“Yeah I'm happy,” he said. “I'm very happy actually. That was one of those rare laps where everything was just perfect. Our aim in the practice sessions this morning was to get a good qualifying set-up and boy, did we succeed. The car was absolutely amazing. Team Aon have worked ridiculously hard this year and every event we have moved forward and constantly improved.
“Obviously we're a new team this year with a new car – the Ford Focus, and it takes time to develop. I wish we could have started the year where we are now, but that's impossible. I was confident we would get to here though and I hope this is the start of a great weekend.”
Team boss Mike Earle was also thrilled with the result after a difficult first season with the car, although it was a qualifying session of mixed emotions for the team after Tom Onslow-Cole had his times disallowed for failing the ride-height test and will be forced to start from the back of the grid as a result.
“This is a great result for Tom Chilton and thoroughly deserved for the uncomplaining manner in which he has driven this year when, in all honesty, the car hasn't been as competitive as we would have liked,” he said. “We now have to build on this and hopefully get good results tomorrow, but so far so good. The team has worked incredibly hard all year and it's a great 'end-of-year' bonus for them.
“The mechanical failure to Tom Onslow-Cole's car which caused his times to be disallowed when he was running in a strong sixth position, contributed to a bitter-sweet session. We have subsequently found the front sub-frame had taken a substantial hit on one of the kerbs and we believe that to have caused the problem. He is looking forward to a hard day's work!”