Tom Chilton says his pace proves WTCC title credentials
|By Sam Tremayne||Wednesday, April 17th 2013, 10:04 GMT|
Tom Chilton believes his early season form proves he is in the hunt for this year's World Touring Car Championship crown.
A switch into RML, which ran Chevrolet's all-conquering works effort, has yielded instant improvements in form.
The 28-year-old Briton grabbed his first front-row start and then first podium in the opening race at Monza, took a second rostrum at Marrakech, and has set fastest lap in two of the first four races.
He also looked set to clinch pole on the Moroccan street circuit only for traffic and a late mistake to erode the half-second advantage he had built through the first two sectors.
Chilton believes his pace after just two rounds is evidence of his title credentials, even if he already trails team-mate and triple champion Yvan Muller by 40 points.
"Absolutely I'm in this year's title hunt. It's exciting," he told AUTOSPORT.
"At the moment I'm just behind [Gabriele] Tarquini and [Michel] Nykjaer.
"I wanted to build it up slowly and I think I'm getting there - this weekend I feel like I unleashed it a bit.
"Once I'd sorted out [lines and regulations] over the kerbs I was fastest in the warm-up, set the fastest lap in Race 2 and I was also quickest [in Race 1] at Monza.
"The pace is there for sure, I just need to make sure I keep finishing races."
Chilton admitted his error in qualifying had proved especially costly given the difficulties of overtaking at Marrakech.
"Street circuits are more about qualifying than any other circuit, because overtaking is harder, so if I could have put it on the front row in qualifying it would have made a big difference," he said.
"[Fernando] Monje did hold us up, I did lose a tiny bit of time, but I was still quickest in sector two and then I ended up making a small mistake on the penultimate chicane, and at the hairpin because I was trying to gain time back."