Team Aon: Hungary for more grip in Budapest

This weekend’s FIA World Touring Car event in Budapest was a steep learning curve for Team Aon drivers Tom Chilton and James Nash, who despite putting in some impressive overtaking manoeuvres, left the Hungaroring with no points. The British duo struggled to get the most out of the low grip circuit, as the team continue to develop the new WTCC Ford Focus.

This season’s tightly packed WTCC calendar has seen five events already since the season opener in Monza in March, forcing a high rate of development on the Team Aon Ford Focus machines. New suspension parts brought out for last weekend’s event at the high grip and flat Slovakiaring, didn’t suit the low grip undulating Hungaroring, leaving both drivers struggling during this weekend’s event. With little chance for the team to develop new parts in-between the back to back events, it was a tough weekend for both Chilton and Nash on both theirs and the team’s first visit to the Budapest circuit.

This morning’s rolling start was predictably chaotic, with several cars running wide. Both Team Aon drivers managed to make it through the melee unscathed with Nash doing well to make up several places to seventh. Chilton meanwhile received some contact from behind, but had made a good start and managed to stay on track to make up places and was 18th at the end of lap one.

Nash soon found himself involved in some wheel to wheel racing with Alex MacDowall and local hero Norbert Michelisz. Nash didn’t quite have the grip to keep the two behind and dropped to ninth place, while Chilton was lying 17th.

Weber passed Nash for ninth a couple of laps later, the Team Aon driver was now running with light damage to his bumper clearly after a nudge from behind. At the chequered flag, Nash was 11th, while Chilton had managed to climb to 15th.

The weather stayed warm and sunny for this afternoon’s standing start ahead of race two. Once again Chilton managed to make up places off the line, and was wheel to wheel with Nash at the first corner, with both doing well to avoid creating any damage to their sister car. At the end of the first lap, Nash was 13th while Chilton was 14th.

The racing action continued in earnest on lap two, when Nash was involved in a feisty battle with Darryl O’Young, but wasn’t able to find a way past. Soon after both Team Aon men were in a tight line of cars in the battle for 13th with Aleksei Dudukalo, Pasquale DiSabatino and Tom Coronel.

By lap five, a fast approaching Coronel passed both Team Aon men, relegating Nash to 14th and Chilton 15th. The order remained unchanged until Nash pulled of the track with just a few laps remaining with a sudden lack of power. Following the misfortune for his team mate, Chilton crossed the line in 14th place.

Team mate Chilton was philosophical about the team’s weekend, commenting, “The weekend was struggle for us; we arrived in Slovakia with a new suspension set-up which was clearly very strong there, but didn’t quite work for us in Hungary. We’ve learnt a huge amount for when we’re here again next year however, and we always knew that there would be challenges like this in our first season. Aside from that, the car still feels great with a very good balance. I made two decent starts as well, and made up places during the rolling and standing starts. I didn’t get any points, but we’ve come away with a lot of knowledge which will help us in the future.”

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