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TEAM BRISTOL STREET MOTORS READIES FOR BATTLE AT DONINGTON PARK

Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS will kick off its challenge for top honours in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this weekend when the 2024 season gets underway at Donington Park.

The EXCELR8 Motorsport-run team heads into the new campaign fielding an unchanged, four-car line-up led by 2022 champion Tom Ingram, with experienced racer Tom Chilton and second-year drivers Ronan Pearson and Nick Halstead all returning at the wheel of their Hyundai i30 Fastback N machines.

Having run Ash Sutton and NAPA Racing UK close last year in the race for the title, the team has left no stone unturned over the winter when it comes to refining the Hyundai, which has been widely regarded as one of the best all-round packages on the grid in recent seasons.

Ongoing development work on the car has been carried out at EXCELR8’s new base in the Midlands after the creation of a new partnership with multiple BTCC champions Team Dynamics, with the new-look team now hoping to replicate past successes during the year ahead.

Ingram’s quest to reclaim his title will begin on the weekend where he celebrates his 300th start, with the final race also being the 150th for the team since it debuted in the championship back in 2019.

As the man who pushed Sutton closest in the standings last year, Ingram heads into 2024 amongst the championship favourites and in confident mood after a productive pre-season testing programme – despite mixed weather conditions,

Chilton – who will make his 500th BTCC start later in the season – was amongst the winners at Donington Park last season as he returned to the top step of the podium for the first time since 2019.

Like Ingram, Chilton has enjoyed a productive pre-season working alongside new race engineer Barry Plowman, and is eager to now replicate his testing pace to start the new campaign strongly.

After a solid rookie season, Scottish youngster Pearson heads into 2024 amongst the favourites for the Jack Sears Trophy, but with his eyes also fixed on pushing for overall podiums and race wins.

Pearson topped the times during the second of three official tests at Croft and readily admits that Donington Park is his favourite circuit on the calendar – something he will seek to use to his benefit this weekend.

Halstead meanwhile secured his best result of the 2023 season at Donington Park twelve months ago, mastering tricky wet conditions to bring his car home seventh in race two.

With a year of experience now under his belt, the former British GT race winner will be looking for improved consistency during the year ahead and will hope to start his season with a trip to the points during the opening three races.

Tom Chilton, #3 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai, said:

“Last year, it was nice to get a win at Donington Park and I feel that we are returning to start the new season in a good place. We’ve had a strong pre-season testing programme, particularly at Donington and Brands Hatch, and with those being the first two events on the calendar, I’m confident that we can start the year strongly.

“The team has been working hard on the car over the winter, and with the experience of Barry and the rest of the team on my car – many of whom I’ve worked with before – I feel in a really good place. 

“The fact that we have brought together the best parts of EXCELR8 and the best parts of Team Dynamics makes me even more confident that we are going to be the strongest competition for NAPA Racing this year, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Ronan Pearson, #14 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai, said:

“I’m feeling in a really strong position ahead of round one, and I’m excited to get going after what feels like a really long winter! There is a lot of hard work that has gone in over the off-season and it’s been good to see how that work has translated into performance during testing.

“We’ve had a good pre-season although obviously you don’t know exactly what everyone else is doing. We have just made sure to focus on ourselves, and with that in mind, I think we can be confident as we head for Donington Park.

“It’s a circuit that I enjoy and where I have gone well in the past, and the focus this weekend is to try and pick up three strong points-scoring results and push for the Jack Sears Trophy win. That title is my main goal for the season, so if we could outscore our rivals and secure some early success, it would be the perfect start.”

Nick Halstead, #22 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai, said:

“On the whole, pre-season testing has been positive and the car has felt amazing with the work that the team has put in across the winter. Towards the end of last year, I felt I made a lot of progress as a driver and showed a lot more pace, and as we head into round one, I want to try and build on that and come out of the blocks well.

“I’m under no illusions about the fact that the grid this season is arguably one of the strongest that has been assembled in BTCC history, with so many drivers who are capable of fighting for wins and podiums. I’m looking forward to seeing how I measure up against them and am focused on doing the best job I can.

“Over the season as a whole, I’d love to come away with a Jack Sears Trophy win but looking to round one, there is the prospect of rain and if it arrives, then a repeat of the results last year would be a fantastic start.”

Tom Ingram, #80 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai, said:

“The Hyundai was a really strong package last year, and with the improvements we’ve made over the winter and the way the car has performed in testing, I feel we’re in a good position as we head in to 2024. 

“Of course, everyone else will tell a similar story at this stage but the whole team is focussed on the job at hand, and personally I’d say I’m in better shape both mentally and physically than I have been before.

“Last year we were the only ones to really take it to Ash every weekend and the only goal this season is to take the title back from him. Donington is a circuit we’re I’ve gone well in the past and is a good place to kick things off, and I’m ready for the challenge.”

Justina Williams, Team Owner, said:

“We go into the opening rounds of the new season in a good place on the back of a productive winter developing the car followed by some solid running in pre-season testing, despite the weather conditions not always being as favourable as they could be.

“All four drivers are fired up to deliver results in what looks set to be a highly-competitive year and I think we can head to Donington Park optimistic about picking up some strong results to kick-start our championship challenge.”

What’s new for 2024?

  • Qualifying has been rejigged for the new season and will now run across three phases. In Q1, the grid is split in half depending on where a driver finished in second practice, with the top six from the two Q1 sessions going through to Q2. From there, the top six again progress to Q3 to fight for pole position.
  • The amount of power available through the hybrid system has been increased to roughly double what was previously on offer to drivers in a move that is set to spice up the racing action throughout the year.
  • A change to the tyre rules means that on those weekends where the option tyre is in place, anyone finishing inside the top ten in race one must run the hardest available compound in the second race of the weekend.
  • Coverage of the series will again be free-to-air on ITV4, but the BTCC will also go global in 2024 thanks to a unique deal that will see races streamed live on TikTok.
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