BRISTOL STREET MOTORS WITH EXCELR8 FIGHT BACK FOR VITAL POINTS AT OULTON PARK
The BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 team grabbed two more podium finishes in their quest for the Championship title.
The Suffolk-based outfit went into the weekend bidding to replicate the strong form it had displayed at the circuit last season.
Tom 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, 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, during the final top ten showdown he placed sixth on the times, with Chilton also enduring a tricky session that left him 21st.
That was two places behind Pearson, who was the final driver to lap within a second of the fastest Q1 time, Halstead put himself in 25th.
Ingram’s performance in the opening race saw him rise to third place to secure a spot on the podium behind title rival Ash Sutton (NAPA Racing UK), whilst Chilton made up five places on the first lap and fought his way up to twelfth.
Pearson had a tough first lap that dropped him outside the top 20 and then an 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 (Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown) and Jade Edwards (Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD), Halstead finished 23rd.
Race two would see Ingram replicate his earlier result as he secured another third-place finish, with Chilton tried to recover from mid-race contact at the hairpin and finished 11th. 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 and Sutton making contact off the line and confusion when an early safety car was called. He made a fourth-place finish.
Chilton would spend the early stages in the top ten before dropping back to twelfth place, with Pearson just missing out on the points in P17. Halstead meanwhile took the flag in 19th place for a third top 20 result of the season.
Tom Ingram 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.”
“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 said: “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.”
“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 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.”
“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 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.”