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PRAISE FOR CHILTON ON HIS 100TH BTCC START AT OULTON PARK TH

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  • PRAISE FOR CHILTON ON HIS 100TH BTCC START AT OULTON PARK TH

    PRAISE FOR CHILTON ON HIS 100TH BTCC START AT OULTON PARK THIS WEEKEND

    At the impressionable age of 21 most people are still mulling over their life choices - but VX Racing's Tom Chilton is already leading the field in more ways than one.
    At Oulton Park this weekend, Chilton - a Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race winner - will line up on the series' grid for the 100th time, surpassing piers twice his age.
    After a mixed start to the 2006 season Chilton, from Reigate, is now optimistic he can make this landmark occasion something to remember. "I've won at Oulton Park before," said the BTCC prodigy, who has already scored a pole position and two podiums this year. "We've made loads of changes to the car since the last round in Mondello and I'm confident this weekend will see the watershed in VXR's fortunes."
    Chilton is not only the youngest-ever BTCC driver but also the youngest race-winner, and the championship's mainstays have been lining up to praise the VXR driver in honour of his 100-race milestone.
    "He's fever," said Motorsport News' Deputy Editor, Matt James, who judged Chilton to be the best BTCC driver of 2005. "You love watching Tom drive the car because he's so committed and brave and quick. Every lap in qualifying, you look forward to the next time you see him come around because you never know what he's going to do next."
    Championship commentator, and British Racing Drivers' Club board member, Ian Titchmarsh, is similarly impressed with the youngster. "There's something about Chilton," said Titchmarsh. "He missed a couple of rounds in the championship last year but when he arrived he was amazingly good - spectacular.
    "To my knowledge he's the youngest member of the BRDC and to qualify you must have results at a high level. It's quite an achievement for a 21-year-old."
    VXR Team Manager, Ian Harrison, said: "He's young, he's exciting and he's quick. It feels like he's been around forever but really he's only been around for three minutes. We want to develop him and mould him into a top class driver but he's got the groundwork. He's naturally quick and you can't teach that."
    When former BTCC Champion and VXR driver, Yvan Muller, was asked by Harrison for his opinion on Chilton he didn't hesitate. "I said I would sign him," said the Frenchman, who is now driving in the World Touring Car Championship. "He's still young and he doesn't understand everything but he's growing up and step-by-step he's turning into a great driver. He's the only driver I felt comfortable driving next to in 2005."
    Victory has so far eluded Banbury-based VXR in the opening two race meetings of this year but, with a substantially re-worked car and expectations running high, the team - including multiple champion Fabrizio Giovanardi and Irishman Gavin Smith - hopes Oulton Park will see an end to the drought.
    Qualifying takes place at 15.00 on Saturday (May 13th). Racing starts on Sunday (May 14th) at 12.10 with race two scheduled for 14.20 and the third at 16.20. All races will be broadcast on Motors TV and ITV1.
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