Ronan Pearson heads to Donington GP on the back of seasons best at Knockhill
BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8’s Ronan Pearson enjoyed his best weekend by far in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with a stunning showing on home soil at Knockhill (12/13 August), scoring three top-seven finishes and picking up a maiden Jack Sears Trophy win.
Having shown flashes of pace over the course of his debut season, Pearson made the short ten-minute trip to his local circuit hopeful of challenging towards the sharp end of the field, with plenty of experience of the tricky Fife circuit already under his belt.
Pearson’s promise was immediately clear in the opening practice session in wet conditions, putting his Hyundai i30 Fastback N inside the top ten on the timesheets.
Qualifying provided the chance for Pearson to get some dry running under his belt, but his hopes of qualifying up the order appeared to be over as he found himself outside the top 20 with technical issues as the clock ticked down – his EXCELR8 Motorsport team diligently worked on resolving the problem.
However, a red flag that resulted in the first phase of qualifying being halted and then restarted with an additional five minutes, provided Pearson with the chance to put in a quick lap and enabled him to secure the 14th best time.
The opening race on Sunday had just kicked off when rain started to fall at the hairpin. Within a matter of minutes, the weather had worsened to such an extent that a change to wet tyres was inevitable, with Pearson amongst those drivers to make the call to come in early and switch from slick rubber.
It would prove to be a critical call as Pearson was able to stay on the lead lap and then found himself climbing up the order as others dived in to change tyres. After two safety car periods, Pearson would cross the line in ninth place before penalties for four drivers ahead saw him promoted up into fifth place – marking his best result in the series by far.
Pearson focused on maximising his points for the Jack Sears Trophy and would take the flag in seventh spot for another impressive result, and there would be extra reason to cheer when he was then drawn on pole for the reverse grid finale.
Sitting on the grid for the start, Pearson was suddenly thrown a fresh challenge as a downpour hit the circuit, leading to the decision to start the race behind the safety car.
When the action kicked off on lap six, Pearson quickly made the most of having a clear view to scamper away at the front and had built a lead of more than two seconds before the safety car was called out to recover a car from the gravel at the hairpin.
After the restart, Pearson slipped back to third place as Ash Sutton (NAPA Racing UK) and Josh Cook (One Motorsport with Starline Racing) were able to find a way through and a maiden podium was in his sights before he slowed on the final lap to allow title-chasing team-mate Tom Ingram through to secure additional points for his championship challenge.
Pearson would still take his place on the rostrum having scored the most Jack Sears Trophy points across the weekend, enabling him to gain ground in the championship standings with three events left to run.
“To join Tom [Ingram] on the podium as the Jack Sears Trophy winner was a real bucket list moment and to see so many fans there cheering me on is a feeling that I can’t really put into words,” said Pearson.
“This was the weekend where all of the hard work that has gone in alongside the team really paid off, and I’ve shown what I can do in the most difficult conditions we’ve had all year.
“This gives me a real platform to build on across the final three rounds, and we need to now kick on from here and make sure we end the season with the best results possible.”