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BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 fights back for vital points at Oulton Park

BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 fights back for vital points at Oulton Park

The BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 team fought back from a tricky qualifying session at Oulton Park to grab two more podium finishes in its quest for the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship title.

The Suffolk-based outfit went into the weekend bidding to replicate the race-winning form it had displayed at the circuit last season, and things looked promising in opening practice.

Tim Ingram headed the times at the wheel of the #1 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, whilst there was also encouraging pace from Tom Chilton, Ronan Pearson and Nick Halstead; the latter pair appearing at Oulton Park in a touring car for the first time.

After more solid running in FP2, where Ingram was just edged out of P1 right at the death, confidence was high going into qualifying – although the two-part session would prove to be a challenge.

Whilst Ingram made it into Q2 with ease, he was unable to extract the maximum from his tyres in the final top ten showdown and had to settle for sixth on the times, with Chilton also enduring a tricky session that left back in 21st.

That was two places behind Pearson, who was the final driver to lap within a second of the fastest Q1 time, with Halstead putting himself in a position to dice with the pack in 25th.

The threat of rain in the latter part of race day saw all four drivers adopt the same tyre strategy for race day, running the soft tyre in races one and two, and holding the least favoured hard tyre back for race three – partly in the hope that predicted rain would mean it didn’t need to be used.

A solid performance from Ingram in the opening race saw him fight his way up into third place to secure a spot on the podium behind title rival Ash Sutton, whilst a storming performance from Chilton saw him make up five places on lap one alone before fighting his way up to twelfth.

Pearson was recovering from a tricky first lap that dropped him outside the top 20 and was closing on the points when a small error at the hairpin saw him run wide and cost him places, with the Scot classified in 18th place at the finish.

Battling throughout with Nic Hamilton and Jade Edwards, Halstead rounded out the finishers in 23rd.

Race two would see Ingram replicate his earlier result as he secured another third place finish, with Chilton recovering from mid-race contact at the hairpin to make up a further place and take eleventh.

Contact would also hamper Pearson as he ended up in 17th place having earlier been fighting for a place in the points, with Halstead enjoying another trouble-free race in 24th.

With the expected rain not arriving for the reverse grid race three, all four drivers were on the hard tyre alongside most of the field, with Ingram surviving contact with Sutton off the line and confusion when an early safety car was called out to end his weekend with a fourth-place finish.

Chilton would spend the early stages in the top ten before being shuffled back to twelfth place, with Pearson just missing out on the points in P17. Halstead meanwhile would enjoy his strongest race of the weekend as he took the flag in 19th place for a third top 20 result of the season.

Tom Ingram, #1 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“This should really have been our weekend like it was last year, but we were left playing catch up after Q2 when we just couldn’t get the tyres hooked up for whatever reason.

“From P6 on the grid, we’ve done well to come away with two third places and a fourth, and it’s nice that we’ve had a weekend where it hasn’t been Ash [Sutton] winning all the races!

“Yet again we’ve scored good points this weekend and whilst it might not be the most exciting way to go racing, our approach has served us well again and allowed us to close the gap at the top ahead of the summer break.”

Tom Chilton, #3 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“After my recent run of bad luck, it’s good to come away from the weekend with three points finish, especially after a difficult qualifying session where we just weren’t quick enough.

“In race trim, the car was brilliant and I showed that it is possible to overtake round Oulton Park in race one to come through to P12. I think a top ten was on the cards in race two before a push-to-pass move from Adam Morgan cost me time, and in race three, I suffered a bit with the brakes getting hot as we were running in traffic.

“Three points finishes is a good way to head into the summer break, but I hope to be fighting higher up the order when racing resumes and pushing to get back on that podium.”

Ronan Pearson, #14 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“We’ve been able to learn a huge amount this weekend but there are things that happened on track that ultimately didn’t allow us to get the results. It’s a shame as the car felt really good and we were quicker than the cars around us, but this is a circuit where track position really is key.

“I made a mistake in race one which is something I can cope with, but it was a shame to then be hit off in race two when I think we were in a good position to get into the points.

“We showed that you can overtake and it would have been nice to go into the summer break with more points on the board, but I’m pleased with how I performed.”

Nick Halstead, #22 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“I love Oulton Park and this weekend has been a similar story to a number of rounds this year. By the end of the third race, I was up to speed and to get a top 20 finish without it being down to mixed weather was mega and something I really enjoyed.

“I think my starts hurt me this weekend, but my race craft was good and it’s a positive that I found myself being held up as it shows we were on the pace. I’m getting closer to the position I want to be in, where I can turn up for race one and be able to fight, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the whole experience.”

Justina Williams, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Team Owner said:
“Another two podium finishes is a good way to head into the summer break and once again, all four drivers have shown good pace this weekend on track.  Race day was always going to be a challenge when overtaking is so difficult, but they showed what they can do behind the wheel and it leaves us well placed in the championship at the half-way stage.”

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