Chilton is an old-school racer, but is ready to embrace an electric future – if cars can be this much of a handful. “Obviously it doesn’t have the noise of an engine and all you hear from the tyres is ‘errr, errr, errr’! The tyres are melting beneath you and you’re saying to them ‘I’m sorry!’ Then you think, I’ll just apply a bit of throttle with 900Nm of torque coming out of the rear wheels and 500 kilowatts on full beans, which is 670-ish bhp…
“One of the main differences is it doesn’t have a solid rear axle like you have on a normal race car. It’s just got two electric motors on each side powering it individually, and the traction control is very basic. Williams Advanced Engineering is in control of the batteries and the technology and we’ve done no testing with it. It’s the same for everyone, we’ve all got the same traction control, but it’s not what I’d call high-tech. So it will wheel-spin quite a bit before it cuts out, and you get this high-pitched squeal as the inside wheel spins crazy out of control and becomes unloaded because there is no diff to help it.
“It’s amazing really because you get a whole different sensation with the noise and the way it puts down power one wheel at a time. I’ve been racing a long time now, but I’ve never raced something this heavy before. Even all the championships I’ve raced in where they try to slow you up with 75 kilos of lead I’ve never been anywhere near this weight. It’s extraordinary how fast it is.”
It’s just as well too that Chilton’s ‘day job’ is racing another rear-wheel-drive machine in the BTCC, and he says it’s not a coincidence, having joined Cicely Motorsport to race its new WSR-built BMW 330i M-Sport beside team-mate Adam Morgan this year. “When I realised I’d be doing two different championships in 2021 I realised it was very important to drive cars which were powering the same axle – as in the rear, not the front,” says Tom. “So I went rear-wheel drive for the BTCC to match Pure ETCR. That really helps me. You’re not going to think I’m just going to floor the throttle to pull the front round, because that would obviously spin you… So I’ve got all the same feelings and it keeps me on my toes.
“I love the fact it’s all so different. When I’m sat in the Pure ETCR pit garage I’m staring at a hydrogen fuel cell which is recharging the batteries in my electric car. It’s the future, it’s cool and exciting. I’ve done touring cars for 16 years, so it’s so nice to do something different.”