Honda Racing gives BTCC rising star Civic track test
As part of Honda Racing's driver appraisal programme, Tom Chilton tested one of the BTCC race winning Honda Civic Type-Rs at Snetterton today (Thursday). Spurred on by the Civic's victorious debut campaign, Honda (UK) has already announced its commitment to contest next year's series but is yet to confirm its final 2003 driver line-up.
Chilton, who is one of the drivers on Honda's short-list, made history back in April when making his BTCC debut. At just 17-years-old, he not only was the youngest-ever competitor in the BTCC's 44-year heritage but also became the youngest driver to stand on a BTCC podium when finishing third in the day's Feature Race.
After the original test was rained off on Wednesday, conditions were far improved at the Norfolk circuit on Thursday allowing the talented teenager to complete more than 50 laps on what was a fast drying track. "It's the first time I've driven for a factory team and the experience was just fantastic," enthused Tom. "The Civic is one of the top cars in the BTCC and, being smaller than the Astra I raced in 2002, it felt more precise. I've now got all my fingers and toes crossed as it would be just incredible to race for Honda next year."
Tom's debut performance impressed Honda Racing team principal Mike Earle. "He's clearly a remarkable young man with enormous potential. Although completely new to the Civic, he posted some very competitive lap times and provided us with some excellent technical feedback. It's difficult to believe he's still only 17!" remarked Earle.
"We will be announcing our drivers in the near future and this test marked a key part of our evaluation process," added Paul Ormond, Honda's Head of PR. "The opportunity to have young talent such as Tom taking part in our driver selection programme forms an integral part of ensuring we have the strongest possible team to contest the 2003 championship on all fronts."