BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 targets Scottish success
BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 travels to Knockhill looking to reclaim top spot in the battle for the 2023 KwikFit British Touring Car Championship title.
The team heads for Scottish soil with defending champion Tom Ingram sitting six points off the lead, after a solid performance at Croft two weeks ago allowed him to keep pace with Ash Sutton in the Drivers’ Standings.
Although Ingram has scored just one win so far this season compared to Sutton’s seven, he has taken to the podium ten times and is the only driver on the grid to have finished in the top ten at every race so far.
Ingram will be aiming to add to his two victories at Knockhill this weekend.
Tom Chilton is another previous Knockhill winner and heads into the weekend buoyed by a strong showing at Croft. Chilton has been a consistent scorer this year, with more points finishes at this stage of the campaign than in any other season of his BTCC career – bar one.
A victor at Donington Park at the start of the campaign, Chilton makes the trip up to Scotland focused on fighting within the top ten and chasing a return to the podium places.
Macklin Motors-backed driver Ronan Pearson will be embarking on the biggest weekend of his career to date as he competes on home soil in the BTCC for the first time.
The youngster lives just ten minutes away from the Knockhill circuit and is set to be cheered on by a partisan crowd at a venue where he won twice last season during his MINI CHALLENGE programme.
Pearson is still chasing a first top-ten finish of the year, but hopes are high that his home circuit will be the place where he can achieve his goal and also challenge for victory in the Jack Sears Trophy – open to drivers without an overall BTCC podium.
Meanwhile, Nick Halstead was boosted by a solid performance at Croft, where he showed encouraging pace across the weekend at the only circuit where he had raced the Hyundai previously.
With his race pace having been stronger than his qualifying pace throughout the season, Halstead will hope to put in an improved performance on Saturday to give him the best possible chance of fighting with the next pack of drivers on track, with his goal being to push into the top 20 and try and fight for a second points finish of the campaign.
Tom Ingram said: “Knockhill has been a happy hunting ground for me in the past, and we go there this weekend knowing that three strong results are vital as we head towards the business end of the season.
“It’s been clear to see that we haven’t got the fastest car outright this season, but what we do have is a car that has been consistently strong at every circuit, and that has allowed us to keep racking up the points.
“As a team, we will keep pushing hard to extract the maximum from the Hyundai and my focus heading into the weekend is to try and end the Ford’s run of success in qualifying and fight for a win. Beyond that, it’s all about scoring as many points as possible to keep our championship challenge on track.”
Tom Chilton said: “Although Croft ended in disappointing fashion with the DNF, there were a lot of positives to take away from the weekend. Our race pace was strong and had I not been hit by the debris from another car, we’d have come away with three decent finishes to kick off the second half of the year.
“I feel we’ve got a good platform to build on as we head to Knockhill, which is one of my favourite circuits on the calendar. It’s a real challenge to hook up a lap and there is no time to relax, particularly when you’re going wheel-to-wheel with nearly 30 other drivers!
“We had a decent weekend in Scotland last year with a pair of top-ten finishes, so I’m feeling confident of challenging for some strong results – and also looking forward to renewing battle with one of my old WTCC rivals in the shape of Rob Huff.”
Ronan Pearson said: “I don’t think I can find the actual words to describe how excited I feel about the weekend ahead. I watched people like Gordon Shedden racing in the BTCC at Knockhill and dreamed that one day I’d be on the grid, so it’s amazing to know that that dream is about to come true.
“Being my local circuit and the only meeting where I get to compete on home soil, I know I’ll be able to count on a lot of support, and I really want to make that count when we hit the track.
“Last season’s meeting in the MINI CHALLENGE was one of the most memorable of my career with the double win, and I feel confident that this can be my best BTCC weekend to date. I can’t wait to get started.”
Nick Halstead said: “I’m feeling good going into Knockhill as every weekend I get a bit more confident and feel a bit more racy. We tested at the circuit in pre-season which went well, but I think the big factor this weekend could be the weather as there is always the chance of rain at Knockhill.
“That could level the playing field a bit and I’ve always gone well in those conditions, so if we do get rain then I feel it would work in my favour, and help me push to try and get onto terms with the next group ahead of me on track.
“I’ve had some top 20 results this season and would love to get into the points again, but I know it’s only getting harder with some of the mid-season changes to the grid. There are a lot of quick drivers out there, so I have to just knuckle down and push hard over the final four meetings at circuits where I have raced a lot in the past.”