D-DAY LOOMS FOR BRISTOL STREET MOTORS WITH EXCELR8
The BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 team will hope to end the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season on a high this weekend when the 2023 campaign draws to a close at Brands Hatch.
The Suffolk-based team makes the trip to the famous Kent circuit still in contention for two championship titles, but will need luck on its side if it is to replicate the stunning success enjoyed at the same venue twelve months ago.
Although he came from third place in the standings to grab the title last season, one position lower than he currently sits, Tom Ingram faces a huge challenge if he is to successfully defend his title.
Ingram sits 45 points behind Ash Sutton with only 67 still available, leaving him as the outsider going into the weekend.
At the same time however, that means the pressure is well and truly off the current champion who goes into Finals Days focused firmly on himself and his quest to end the year with three strong results in his Hyundai.
Team-mate Tom Chilton is also chasing a strong finish to 2023 at his home circuit, having endured a challenging run of results since the summer break.
Despite showing solid pace on track, a number of incidents outside the control of Chilton or the team have prevented him from adding more silverware to the first place trophy he secured at Donington Park at the start of the year.
Chilton – the most experienced driver on the grid – is bidding to fight for the podium this weekend, as is Scottish youngster Ronan Pearson as he brings the curtain down on his rookie season.
Like Ingram, Pearson remains in contention for a championship title as one of a number of drivers who can still secure the Jack Sears Trophy; the award open only to those racers without an overall podium to their name.
Pearson has produced a number of impressive drives in recent events and with confidence high after extending his deal with the team into 2024, his goal is to try and end the year with a maiden BTCC podium.
Fellow rookie Nick Halstead has also shown notable improvement in pace since the summer break, culminating in a strong top-20 finish at Silverstone last time out secured on race pace alone, rather than through the misfortune of others or an inspired call on tyres.
Halstead will now seek to build on the pace shown at Silverstone when the cars hit the track around the iconic GP circuit, with a third points finish of the season being his ultimate goal.
Tom Ingram, #1 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“We head into the final round in a very different position to twelve months ago, but the fact remains that the title isn’t won yet, and we aren’t going to stop fighting to try and overhaul Ash in the points. Okay so we would need luck to be on our side, but I’ve been around the BTCC long enough to know that anything can happen, and that the smallest little thing can have a massive impact on how a weekend pans out.
“We can head for Brands Hatch knowing that in recent events, we’ve had the quicker car, and that is credit to everyone in the team for continuing to work hard to extract more performance from the Hyundai.
“From our side, there is absolutely no pressure as the title is Ash’s to lose at this stage, and we’ll just focus on doing the best job possible from the moment we hit the track in first practice. We can’t control what happens elsewhere, so as long as we maximise what we have, we’ll be able to come away from the weekend with our heads held high regardless of the end result.”
Tom Chilton, #3 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“Brands Hatch GP is an awesome circuit, and one of the most rewarding to drive when you manage to hook up a quick lap out around the back. We know from the past that it’s a circuit that suits our car, and I’m hoping to be able to take advantage of that to end the season on a high – particularly given that it’s also my home track.
“The last few meetings have been challenging for me for various reasons outside our control, and the results haven’t been a fair reflection of my pace, or the effort that the team has been putting in on my car. I’d really love to reward them for their efforts because all season, they’ve given 110 per cent and they deserve some strong results to round out the year.
“Qualifying is always important around Brands Hatch and having shown we can break into the top six on the grid at Silverstone, a similar result this weekend would set us up for the three races and put us in a position for fight for the podium finish I know we are more than capable of.”
Ronan Pearson, #14 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“It only seems like five minutes since I was preparing to head for Donington Park to start the season, and suddenly it’s time to get ready for the big finale! This year has gone so quickly, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute and looking ahead to Brands Hatch, the goal is to try and ensure I end my rookie campaign on a high.
“In the last few events I feel I’ve really been able to show what I can do in a touring car, which has been reflected in my pace and my results. I have so much confidence now when I get behind the wheel and that means that going into the weekend, I know that I’ll be able to hit the ground running from first practice.
“I’ve been close to the podium a few times during the season, and if I could pick up some silverware this weekend, it would be the best way to head into the winter.”
Nick Halstead, #22 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“I’ve been able to learn a huge amount this season and I feel that every weekend, I’ve made gradual improvements in terms of my pace. Over the last two events in particular, I’ve been able to run with the midfield pack and my lap times have been a match for drivers higher up the order, which is something I’m really pleased with when you consider the strength of the BTCC field.
“It’s hard to believe that we’re now heading into the final round of the year and I’d love to be able to sign off this season with some strong results around one of the best circuits in the UK. Having broken into the top 20 on genuine pace at Silverstone, it would be great if I could do the same again this weekend and if I was able to sneak into the points, it would be a fantastic way to end my rookie year.”
Justina Williams, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Team Owner, said:
“We’re going into the season finale with our eyes open in terms of the championship and we know it will be a big ask to try and overhaul Ash and his team, who have been fantastic all season and a really tough opponent on track. However, there are still 67 points to play for, so all we can do is try to score as many of those as possible because you never know what might happen across three races.
“There is also the Jack Sears Trophy to consider for Ronan and with the improved pace he has shown over the second half of the season, he is still very much in with a chance going into the weekend so we have a lot still to play for.
“Hopefully all four drivers can come away from the final weekend with strong results to their name, and we’ll see what happens when it comes to the championship.”