Team boss Mike Earle admitted he was thrilled by the performance of the Team Aon Ford Focus during the final rounds of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.

Tom Chilton qualified on pole for the first time with the car for the season finale and then - against the expectations of many in the paddock - led the first race all the way until the run to the flag, before being edged out by Jason Plato in the closest finish in BTCC history.

Chilton also led the second race before being knocked down the order to sixth, but bounced back for a podium in the final race of the weekend - making it three podium finishes in four races to conclude a challenging development season for the Arena-run team.

While Tom Onslow-Cole endured a more challenging weekend in the sister car, Earle was pleased with the way the season finale had panned out and said the team was now confident about its chances for 2010.

"Obviously this has been our best weekend of the season," he said. "It's a bit like Christmas - sad when it's over. Now we know we have a car that's capable of great success for next year. We have planned a huge development programme through the winter to build on the already strong performance of the Ford Focus.

"Right the way through the year the team has worked absolutely flat out to get us to this point, that includes engineers, mechanics and obviously our drivers. Tom Chilton in particular has never let his head drop; even in the toughest of times and his results today are a just reward for his persistence.

"Tom Onslow-Cole has fitted into the team beautifully and considering he hasn't had a great deal of running in the car, has shown good speed. This weekend though, if he didn't have bad luck, he'd have none at all."


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