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Chilton shines with Oulton victory
19 June 2005
Tom Chilton secured his first win of the 2005 British Touring Car Championship after mastering difficult conditions in race three at a soaking Oulton Park.
After scorching weather conditions throughout Saturday and Sunday morning, torrential rain hit the Chesire circuit shortly after the second race of the day, causing the second Porsche Carrera Cup of the day to be canned and leaving the BTCC regulars with a wet circuit by the time they took to the track for the final race of the day.
Starting from the front row of the grid after his tenth place in race two, Jason Plato led the field into Old Hall but behind him Tom Chilton and Rob Collard had both made strong starts in the damp conditions, with Collard going into the lead when Plato went straight on at Island Bend to drop down the field.
Island Bend on lap one would also see Plato's nemesis Yvan Muller hit problems while trying to get past the Lexus of Richie Williams which had started from the front of the grid. Exiting the corner the two touched, with Williams spinning off on the inside of the circuit and Muller forced to retire at the end of the opening lap.
As if that wasn't bad enough for the VX Racing team, Colin Turkington also failed to last the opening lap as he was punted off by team-mate Gavin Smith on the run into Lodge with the safety car called out onto the track as a result. While the removal of the Astra shouldn't have taken too long, the safety car would remain on the track until lap nine after Mark Proctor managed to go off behind the safety car and park his Fast-Tec Astra next to Turkington's car in the gravel.
Once the safety car pulled in, Smith immediately followed suit to retire the third VX Racing car while things also started to go wrong for SEAT as both James Pickford and Jason Plato went straight on at Island while up front Matt Neal dived past team-mate Dan Eaves to take third place behind Collard and Chilton.
While the watching crowd waiting for the battle between Collard and Chilton for victory, the MG outbraked himself into Island on lap ten to gift the lead to Chilton and then ran across the chicane although he was able to maintain his position ahead of Neal in second place. However with the championship leader on a charge, Collard was unable to fend off the Integra which moved into second on lap twelve, the same lap that saw Plato battle past both Luke Hines and James Kaye to go fifth.
When Eaves then hit problems in his Integra to drop to sixth, Plato could sense a podium was there for the taking and he duly collected one by passing Collard for third on lap 15 – the race having been extended to 18 laps following the safety car period - although it was very much a case of what might have been for the SEAT man as Chilton and Neal secured the top two places.
Outside the podium, Collard took fourth ahead of Hines with Eaves and Pickford completing those to make it to the finish.
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