Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com retains advantage in Scotland
The latest Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship race weekend, at Knockhill on 30/31 July, saw Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com hold on to its advantage as the leading team in Britain’s premier motorsport series, despite a challenging weekend on track north of the border.
The Suffolk-based team headed for Scotland hoping to fight for victory for the second season in a row, and whilst that wasn’t possible, the Hyundai squad was able to retain the lead in the Teams’ Championship as focus now turns to its home event at Snetterton this weekend (13/14 August).
After a tricky pair of practice sessions for all four drivers, qualifying would see Tom Ingram haul his car to eight on the grid despite having no additional hybrid power as championship leader, with Tom Chilton taking 16th place – albeit only a tenth of a second off the top ten.
Jack Butel – returning after missing the previous event at Croft for personal reasons – was able to set the 20th-best time after an error on his quick lap prevented him from qualifying higher up the order, whilst Daniel Lloyd endured a tricky session with a combination of set-up issues and hybrid trouble leaving him in 22nd.
Holding station at the start, Ingram fought his way ahead of Aiden Moffat and Rory Butcher in the early stages to sit in sixth spot and would hold the position to the finish having done well to keep pace with two rapid rear-wheel drive BMWs ahead.
Chilton joined him in the points after benefitting from a strong first lap to make up three places before working his way up to eleventh by the chequered flag, although it would be a tricky opener for Lloyd as a diff issue left him in 19th.
Butel would also be left disappointed after a move from a rival resulted in an off-track excursion and subsequently forced him to retire to the pits.
A strong start to race two saw Ingram get ahead of the BMWs of George Gamble and Stephen Jelley on the opening lap, and he fought hard to pressure Colin Turkington into an error in the early stages before eventually settling for fourth spot.
Chilton’s forward progress continued as he improved into the top ten after overhauling the Toyota of Ricky Collard, although further diff issues for Lloyd – and mid-race contact – left him to finish in 22nd. From the back of the grid, Butel was unable to show the true pace of his car in traffic as he followed Lloyd across the line.
A clash with the Honda of Gordon Shedden on the opening tour of the final contest saw Ingram drop down the order, leaving it up to Chilton to lead the team’s challenge as he picked up his second top-ten finish of the weekend with a solid P9, setting his fastest race laps of the weekend in the process.
Ingram was able to recover from 20th at the end of lap one to take 12th place and salvage more championship points, with Lloyd going close in 18th spot having shown his strongest race pace of the weekend.
Butel meanwhile ended the weekend with a 22nd place finish having been left to rue the race one incident, which ultimately prevented him from challenging for a first points-finish of the campaign.
“We’ve found a lot on my car and after the triple top ten at Croft, it’s been good to come here and add another two to my tally,” said Chilton. “I made a small mistake at the chicane in qualifying that cost me time and that would have put us up into the top ten on the grid, which I think would have made a real difference.
“Saying that, we came close to a top ten in race one with a solid run to eleventh and then we followed it up with two decent results; it’s just a shame we didn’t manage to catch the reverse grid as potentially we could have then challenged for a podium.
“We didn’t have the fastest car [at Knockhill] but we have been able to go out there and race people for position. My view has always been that if you have a car that you can race with, you have a good car, and I’m happy with how we performed.”
“We were able to pick up some solid results considering the competition we were up against with the BMWs, which seemed to have so much pace in the bank to give and take as they saw fit,” added Ingram. “I think our pace was similar to Ash Sutton’s over a race distance, but he had the advantage of being further up the grid, and that was ultimately what was key.
“We were able to make up ground in both of the first two races which was really positive, but we weren’t able to really maximise race three as I tried a move that had come off earlier in the day and Gordon closed the door and I ended up the grass. The positive thing is that we managed to come back through and grab some points, which could end up being very important when we get to the final rounds.
“We know that the opposition are going to be strong until the end of the season, and we have to work hard in the coming rounds to keep taking the fight to them. We have to learn and improve to come back stronger at Snetterton, which was a good circuit for us last year, and hopefully will be again this time around.”
“The weekend started well with qualifying,” reflected Butel. “I was on for a new personal best before a small mistake on my part, although P20 still meant we were in a good position for the races and in the mix to fight for some points.
“Unfortunately, the good work we did on Saturday was undone in race one when I got forced off track and had to retire the car to the pits, because that left us right at the back of the grid at one of the hardest circuits to overtake.
“When the times are so close, it really ended our hopes of scoring points, and it’s a shame that the incident in race one stopped us from picking up the kind of results I know we are capable of.”
“After the high of Croft, [Knockhill] was a really tough weekend and one we just need to put behind us,” admitted Lloyd. “We were chasing the set-up on the car on Saturday and also had an issue with the hybrid that meant we were out of position on the grid, and it was always going to be difficult to come back from that on race day.
“Unfortunately we had some issues outside our control on race day that hampered our chances, which is a real shame as we know we have a package that is more than capable of running right at the front of the field. We had a positive run on track at Snetterton in the recent test, and I’m confident that we will return to form there.”
“I think we can go away from Knockhill happy with the pace we have shown and with the fact that we are still leading the Teams’ Championship,” concluded Team Owner Justina Williams. “We were amongst the quickest front-wheel drive cars, which allowed both Tom and Tom to pick up some solid top ten finishes, although both Dan and Jack have been unfortunate for different reasons and weren’t able to pick up the results we know they are capable of.
“We have a big weekend next at Snetterton, and hopefully we can head to our home circuit – and the place where we secured our first win – and be back fighting right at the sharp end.”