After winning the final race of the 2008 season, Tom Chilton headed into the 2009 British Touring Car Championship campaign keen to try and impress with a returning team and a new car.
Having left Team Dynamics, Chilton found himself back with Arena Motorsport – the team which carried him to his first BTCC win back in 2004. With Aon on board as title sponsor of the team, Chilton set about developing the all-new Ford Focus ST as Arena set about the challenge of building its own car from scratch.
Come the season start at Brands Hatch, the Focus was well off the pace of its rivals and struggled for straight line speed through much of the opening half of the year.
However, continued development work behind the scenes saw the car come on leaps and bounds towards the end of the year and Chilton took to the podium for the first time at Rockingham in the penultimate rounds of the year.
Chilton then overshadowed the title protagonists to take pole for the season finale on the Brands Hatch GP circuit and came within a whisker of a race win when he led throughout the first race only to be pipped to the line by Jason Plato in the closest finish in series history. A further podium followed in the final race of the year.
While 13th place in the championship marked his lowest championship finish since taking 15th in his debut year back in 2002, the progress made during the season suggests Chilton could be one to watch in 2010 and saw you vote him tenth in the Driver of the Year poll.
Ford Focus ST (S2000)
Independents' Championship position:
Independents' Championship points:
NB: Pole position refers to qualifying, not to grid slot for race two or three on a weekend, decided by earlier race results