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TEAM BRISTOL STREET MOTORS ADDS TO WIN TALLY AT BRANDS HATCH

TEAM BRISTOL STREET MOTORS ADDS TO WIN TALLY AT BRANDS HATCH

Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS secured a third win of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch, with the Hyundai squad coming away from the second meeting of the year with a strong haul of points to maintain its championship challenge.

The EXCELR8-run team headed into the weekend on the back of a strong showing at Donington Park two weeks earlier, where Tom Ingram had scored two wins from three to lead the Drivers’ standings.

Free practice around the short Indy layout of the Brands Hatch circuit showed the potential of the Hyundai i30 Fastback N as Tom Chilton topped the times in the second session, with Ronan Pearson also inside the top ten and Ingram less then half a second off the pace despite only having limited hybrid to use. Nick Halstead also lapped solidly on a circuit he admits isn’t amongst his favourites, improving his best time across the two sessions.

The impact of Ingram’s lack of hybrid was evident in qualifying as he had to settle for eighth on the grid, just ahead Pearson and Chilton, with Halstead lining up for the opening race in 20th spot.

The first race of the weekend saw Chilton emerge as the highest-placed of the Hyundai drivers after a mid-race pass on Ingram, with the pair running together through to the finish in sixth and seventh place.

Pearson had been running close behind before he was forced off the circuit on the exit of Paddock Hill Bend by the BMW of Adam Morgan and dropped two laps down having been forced to pit for repairs, whilst Halstead stayed out of trouble to make his way up to 17th by the finish.

With more hybrid available for race two, Ingram charged his way through to take a fine second place, with the highlight coming in a wheel-to-wheel battle with title rival Ash Sutton that saw Ingram pull off a stunning overtake going into Paddock Hill Bend.

Chilton again finished in sixth place, with Pearson coming through the pack to take eleventh from the back of the grid and Halstead maximising his hybrid usage to open his points account for the season in 13th – only missing out on twelfth by the smallest of margins in a drag race to the line.

The top eleven on the grid was reversed for race three to put Pearson on pole although he lost the lead when the lights went out and he bogged down off the line. The Scot reclaimed the lead before the end of lap one however with a fine move at Clearways and then eased away at the front of the pack to secure a maiden BTCC victory.

Chilton joined him on the podium to make it a Hyundai 1-2 after a strong drive through from sixth on the grid, highlighted by his own move at Paddock Hill Bend five laps from the end that saw him get ahead of the Astra of Aron Taylor-Smith to secure the place.

Unfortunately for Ingram, he would have to settle for a single point for setting the fastest lap after being forced to pit with a front-left puncture, with Halstead picking up a ten second penalty for being out of position at the start that left him in 17th place.

Ingram sits third in the standings at the end of the weekend, with Chilton in seventh and Pearson twelfth, with Pearson now second in the Jack Sears Trophy standings ahead of Halstead. Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS also sits third in the Teams’ Championship ahead of the next event at Snetterton.

Tom Chilton #3 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai, said:
“I had a nightmare at Donington Park so it was important to come here and have a strong weekend – and to be on the podium is fantastic. The car has been fantastic this weekend and all credit to the team for their work, and also to my engineer Barry Plowman for his expertise.

“The last race in particular was so much fun and we were really strong to come through like we did. I loved the battle with Aron and I had to make the move when the chance came up as I’d used the hybrid to pull alongside him and had to make it stick. We both got sideways and it was a bit action-packed, and to be on the podium alongside Ronan was great.”

Ronan Pearson, #14 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai, said:
“It’s hard to know what to say – I can’t believe I’ve gone and scored my first win! Considering that I was in the wall earlier in the day, things could have been a lot different than they are, and I’m so pleased to be able to bring the car home in that third race. My engineer was giving me updates on how I was getting on and I was just praying there would be no safety car once I’d got a gap.

“It’s been a long journey to get this point and I’ve never given up, and huge thanks has to go to the team for their efforts in giving me a fantastic car, and everyone who has supported me through to the years.

“We’ve shown good pace now at two very different circuits in very different conditions which is a big positive, and we have to try and carry this momentum into Snetterton next time out.”

Nick Halstead, #22 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai, said:
“For me to score points in this championship is huge as it’s such a tough series to be part of, and I’m really pleased with my results this weekend. Brands Hatch isn’t a circuit that has been my best in the past, so I can take a lot of confidence from the pace I showed – particularly in race two – and can look to build on that when we head to Snetterton.

“One thing we did really see this weekend was how big the impact of the hybrid was, and managing that was vital to keep some back for the final stages, which helped me to get the result. It will be interesting to see how it pans out next time at Snetterton.”

Tom Ingram, #80 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai, said:
“I think deflating is a good way to sum up how the weekend finished! It’s a real shame that we suffered the puncture in race three because until that point, things had been going well. We did struggle a bit in qualifying and race one with the lack of hybrid as it had a big impact, but the car was fantastic all day and we were able to show our pace in race two.

“The battle with Ash was great, and the move to take second place was particularly fun as we didn’t really get much chance to race door-to-door like that last season. There is nothing you can do when you suffer a puncture like we did in race three, and we just have to put it behind us and focus on the positive, which is the fact we’ve clearly got the car in a nice place.

“It’s been a great weekend for the team with Ronan getting his first win, and we can head for Snetterton with a little more hybrid ready to challenge.”

Justina Williams, Team Owner, said:
“It’s been a really strong weekend and to come away from Brands Hatch with a win, three podiums and points for all four drivers is fantastic. We’re so proud to see Ronan get onto the top step for the first time as he has worked so hard to get to this stage and richly deserves his victory, and to score a 1-2 finish is brilliant for the team against such strong opposition.

“Aside from the puncture in race three, there are a lot of positives we can take away from the weekend and will look to maintain our progress at Snetterton in a few weeks time.”

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