We spoke with Andy Constable, Commercial Manager of Team Aon, about their recent success at Snetterton and about how he sees things shaping up for the team. To recap, Team Aon competes in the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, running a pair of Ford Focus ST's, powered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
The teams' two drivers currently stand in fourth and seventh in the Drivers' Championship standings.
Team Aon collected valuable points at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk towards their goal of winning the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Last weekend the team came away with a sizeable points-haul from the Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk, England. Both drivers, Tom Chilton and Tom Onslow-Cole gained vital points, scoring second and third place finishes, and narrowing the gap in the manufacturers' standings. Also, with the points he earned, Tom Chilton now climbs two places, to seventh, in the Drivers' Championship.
First of all, congratulations on your three races at Snetterton. For those not familiar with the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship format, how does it work?
"Thank you. It was the result of a lot of hard work by everyone at Team Aon. Each of the events we do, and there are ten in the course of a season, comprise three races. The races are always held on the Sunday, with practice and qualifying taking place on the Saturday. The races are around half an hour each in duration, with maybe an hour and a half between each race. That can mean a lot of pressure for the engineers and mechanics especially if there has problems or accident damage in any race!"
Explain briefly about the implementation of the performance handicap - what was the reasoning behind that?
"The BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) organizers' aim is to equalize the performance of all the different makes of cars to keep the racing as close as possible. They have several means at their disposal to achieve this; they can add weight, or take it away, they can grant dispensations for suspension or engine components for example."
"Very simply, they felt that with our LPG powered, turbocharged Ford Focuses, had an excessive advantage over everyone else with regard to our acceleration and straight line speed. They therefore ruled that we had to fit a smaller air restrictor to our engine, limiting the amount of fuel/air mixture we can get into the engine at any time."
"It had the effect of reducing our terminal speed by around three or four miles per hour. We were obviously not happy about the smaller restrictor, especially as we don't enjoy an advantage on lap time over say the Chevrolets, but that's what the organizers decided, and we have to live with it. We never stop developing our overall package and our aim will be to try and get some performance back in other areas. We still need to be quicker over a lap."
With all the success your cars are having are you hearing any murmurs from other teams looking to switch to LPG, and are you spending more or less on fuel than traditional petrol cars?
"The second part of your question is easy - it's less. LPG is considerably cheaper than the normal racing fuel that other teams use. I would estimate our expenditure to be 50% of what it would have been if we used conventional fuel."
"The first part of the question - regarding other teams looking to switch to LPG - that's a bit tougher, because they wouldn't necessarily want us to know their plans. I do know that our engine development partners, Mountune Racing, have been approached, but we own the rights to all the technology we have developed, so they can't simply supply it to anyone else. We would be interested in discussions with other teams if they came to us directly, but so far that hasn't happened."
What are your goals for the rest of season, will you meet or surpass those goals in your opinion?
"The goal now is the same as it was at the beginning of the season - to win the Driver's and Manufacturers' Championships. We're currently second in the latter of these, and our drivers are fourth and seventh in the drivers' standings. Tom Chilton secured his biggest points' haul of the season so far at Snetterton last weekend, and has qualified on pole position for four of the six events so far. If they can both carry on like that, then I don't see any reason why we can't achieve our goals."
"It is going to be very tough though, especially as the Chevrolets, which enjoy the benefits of their World Touring Car Championship program to test and develop their cars, are so quick - but we're still determined to beat them."
K&N supplies Team Aon with their Apollo Air Induction System, consisting of an outside shell, with an air filter housed inside.
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