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BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 readies for fresh challenge

BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 readies for fresh challenge

The BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 team will hope to bounce back from a difficult outing at Knockhill when the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads for Donington Park this weekend for the eighth meeting of the season.

Whilst events at the East Midlands venue are nothing new for the Suffolk-based team, this weekend will provide a fresh challenge as it competes on the full Donington Park GP layout for the first time since joining the BTCC grid back in 2019.

With the BTCC having last raced on the full Donington layout back in 2002, three of the four EXCELR8 drivers will be competing at the venue in the series for the first time although confidence is high following a successful showing in the mid-season Goodyear tyre test; which was held on the GP circuit last month.

That test saw defending champion Tom Ingram set the fastest lap time at the wheel of the #1 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, and he returns this weekend in fighting mood as he bids to try and close the gap to current points leader Ash Sutton.

Ingram had looked set to hit the front in the standings two weeks ago before an unfortunate exclusion from race one put him on the back foot, with a strong showing across the latest three races being vital as he bids to maintain his bid for back-to-back titles.

Tom Chilton also showed strong pace at the tyre test to head the morning session, and is one of only two drivers on the grid to have been part of the grid when the BTCC last raced around the GP layout – with the 2002 campaign being his first in the series.

Chilton was a race winner on the first visit to Donington Park earlier in the season on the shorter National layout and – having shown top-three pace at Knockhill – goes into round eight of the year seeking to add to his podium tally.

Although he didn’t take part in the tyre test, Ronan Pearson heads into the weekend buoyed by a stunning performance at his home circuit two weeks ago, where he scored three top-seven finishes and grabbed victory in the Jack Sears Trophy for the first time.

Those strong results allowed the youngster to strengthen his bid for the Jack Sears title – which is open to drivers without an overall podium – and he will now look to replicate the strong place displayed at Knockhill to once again fight towards the sharp end of the field.

Nick Halstead meanwhile has the most recent experience of competing on the Donington GP layout from his time in the British GT Championship and, like Pearson, returns this weekend on the back of a strong showing at Knockhill.

Halstead scored a second points finish of the season in Scotland, and with the first having come during the opening Donington Park meeting, he will aim to once again push towards the top 20 and look to add to his tally.

Tom Ingram, #1 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“All season, it has been quite close at the top of the standings, but with Ash having been able to open up a bit more of a gap after the unfortunate exclusion at Knockhill, we head to Donington Park this weekend knowing we need to go on the attack.

“Last time out, we were able to unlock some more pace in the car, which we showed in the way we were able to fight through from the back of the grid after race one to finish on the podium. We also know from the tyre test over the summer that the car was quick around the GP layout, and we have to try and take advantage of that.

“We can’t control what other people are doing, so our full focus will be on doing the best job that we can do as a team and maximising every opportunity that comes our way to be as pointsy as possible.”

Tom Chilton, #3 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“It makes me feel old knowing I’m one of only two drivers on the grid who have raced on the GP loop in the BTCC before! It’s a great circuit, and one that I think will provide us with some exciting racing with the extra loop, and we go there feeling confident after a really strong showing in the Goodyear test.

“We had a really productive day which I think has been shown in the pace we’ve had over the last few rounds, even though it hasn’t been reflected in the results through no fault of our own. Going into the weekend, we know we’re going to be in a good starting position with the car and can just work on refining things ready for qualifying.

“I’m hopeful that we can be up towards the sharp end in both qualifying and the races, and my goal is on trying to push for some silverware.”

Ronan Pearson, #14 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“I’ve not raced on the full GP circuit at Donington Park since 2017, so it’ll be a bit different to get to the chicane and have to turn left! I’m really looking forward to it on the back of a fantastic weekend at Knockhill where I think all the hard work that has gone in this season really came together.

“The results I scored there have given me a massive boost in confidence, and coming away from my home event in such a positive frame of mind gives me a lot of momentum to take into the weekend. I know I’m improving all the time and we know that the car should be strong around the GP circuit so I’m confident of being able to build on my Knockhill performance and fight for more top results.”

Nick Halstead, #22 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“If you take the final race out of the equation, Knockhill was probably my strongest weekend pace wise even after I had to miss both practice sessions, and that has given me a big boost going back to Donington Park.

“The fact we had a productive day of running during the tyre test is also a positive thing, and I’m hoping to maintain the progress I have made in terms of my pace during the weekend ahead.

“I fully expect the addition of the GP loop to mix things up with the additional overtaking opportunities and my goal is to try and push into that top 20 and try and score some more points – which is a real achievement when the grid is as strong as it is.”

Justina Williams, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Team Owner said:
“As a team we have taken the positives from Knockhill and put the disappointments behind us, and we head back to Donington Park this weekend in a confident frame of mind. Our performance during the tyre test over the summer break was very encouraging, and it means we can arrive at the track knowing we have a good package to work with.

“We’re now approaching a critical stage of the season and with championships on the line, it is vital that we maximise our potential and score as many points as possible across the three races.”

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