Ending a near four-year run without a victory proved to be the highlight of the 2023 season for Tom Chilton as the most experienced driver on the British Touring Car Championship grid embarked on his second year as part of the BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 team.
Chilton would head into the season armed with a brand new Hyundai i30 Fastback N that had been built over the winter, with his goal being to push for silverware and help the team in its quest for championship honours.
Having qualified 14th for the season opener at Donington Park, Chilton recovered from early contact in race one to score a points finish but it was race two where he would shine having elected to dive into the pits at the end of the green flag lap to switch to wet tyres as rain started to fall.
It would prove to be an inspired call, with Chilton storming through from 16th place after an early safety car to cross the line in P1 and score his first victory since the 2019 campaign. Eighth place in the reverse grid finale would then leave him fourth in the points heading into round two at Brands Hatch.
Having just missed out on a top ten in qualifying, Chilton suffered drama before the start of race one when the gear linkage on the car forced him to pit before the start – rejoining at the rear of the field before battling his way through to 15th.
Improving to twelfth in race two, Chilton then rounded out his recovery with seventh in race three to lie seventh in the standings before the visit to Snetterton for round three.
Once again missing the top ten on the grid by the smallest of margins, Chilton was left in recovery mode after a throttle issue at the start of race one dropped him to the back of the field, with a pair of points finishes following in races two and three.
Missing out on a hat-trick of points finishes at Thruxton after a race three puncture, Chilton then scored three top twelve finishes at Oulton Park to leave him eleventh in the standings at the half-way stage.
Having fought his way from 17th on the grid to break into the top ten by the end of race two at Croft when racing resumed after the summer, Chilton would be forced out of race three when debris holed the radiator on his car and a tough weekend would follow on the long trip to Knockhill in Scotland.
A heavy downpour in race one saw drivers dive into the pits and switch to wet tyre, with Chilton benefitting from an early stop to come through to third place. However, there was heartache post-race when his car failed the ride height test and he was excluded from the result, with races two and three in changeable conditions ending without any points.
Three top twelve finishes at Donington Park followed – despite a time penalty in race three – before a tough weekend at Silverstone where debris and an oil leak restricted him a single points finish.
Two further points finishes at Brands Hatch concluded his campaign, with 14th in the standings being his final result.
Points: 97 (-5 Engine Penalties)
Qualifying Average: 13.50
Laps Led: 14
Fastest Laps: 0
Places Gained: 79