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BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 bids to replicate Oulton Park success
The BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 team will hope to replicate the strong pace it showed at Oulton Park last season when the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship returns to the Cheshire circuit for the fifth meeting of the campaign. The Suffolk-based team is well-placed in the championship standings approaching the half-way stage of the season, with defending champion Tom Ingram sitting second in the Drivers’ Championship and rookie Ronan Pearson just outside the top three in the Jack Sears Trophy. Two race wins – one each for Ingram and Tom Chilton – also leave BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 third in the Teams’ Championship and firmly in contention in the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ Championship. Last season’s trip to Oulton Park would be pivotal in Ingram’s championship challenge as he secured EXCELR8’s first BTCC pole position and then secured a double race win – the first time the Hyundai squad had achieved the feat. Having pushed hard in recent meetings to keep pace with points leader Ash Sutton, Ingram will aim to try and replicate the success he enjoyed last year to enter the summer break on a high, and boost his hopes of securing back-to-back titles.
Experienced racer Chilton enjoyed a fine start to the season with a win at Donington Park, but has endured a run of misfortune across the last three rounds since to slip to eleventh in the standings. Chilton has scored five Oulton Park podiums in the past, including a race win, and will hope that improved luck during the weekend ahead will enable him to make the most of the strong pace he has displayed so far in 2023. Scottish youngster Pearson has also shown flashes of speed throughout his rookie season to date and scored his fifth points finish of the year at Thruxton last time out. Pearson continues to gain confidence at the wheel of the i30 Fastback N and makes the trip to the picturesque circuit bidding to try and break into the top ten for the first time prior to the summer break. Like Pearson, Nick Halstead will be competing in the BTCC at Oulton Park for the first time, although he is no stranger to the circuit having scored a podium finish during his time in the British GT Championship.
With Oulton Park being amongst his favourite circuits, Halstead has his sights set on a return to the top 20, with a strong run in Saturday’s qualifying session being viewed as key to his chances. This weekend, the opening race of the weekend will air on the main ITV channel at 12:17 before races two and three air as normal on ITV4 at 14:40 and 17:25. Tom Ingram, #1 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said: “I’d never really had a good record at Oulton Park until last season when we scored pole and a double win – so it would be great if we can get a repeat this weekend! So far this season, we haven’t been grabbing all the headlines with loads of victories, but what we have been doing is consistently putting big scores on the board to stay in contention at the front. “I’m quite okay with the fact that we’ve been going under the radar a little bit and we’re in a good position as a result, as consistently scoring those big points is what is important in a series like that. “Saying that, I plan maximum attack this weekend as I want to push for pole position and wins to ensure that we can head into the summer break on a positive note.” Tom Chilton, #3 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said: “Oulton Park is a circuit I love as it’s so exciting and there is always so much going on. You’re constantly changing gear and it feels like you hardly have chance to get two hands on the steering wheel – and that’s before thinking about things like managing the brakes and deploying hybrid systems! “Despite the win at Donington Park, it’s been a frustrating season for me with so much bad luck, and we aren’t where we deserve to be in the standings as a result. The only plus point from that is that I have more hybrid to take into the weekend which I believe will be key in qualifying; and we know how important that session is at a circuit like Oulton Park. “We’ve proven that we have a good car, and having been on the top step of the podium at Oulton Park in the past, my goal is to do everything I can to be back there this weekend.” Ronan Pearson, #14 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said: “It’s hard to believe that it’s almost the half-way stage of my rookie season as it seems to be going so fast, and I can’t wait to get to Oulton Park this weekend. It’s one of the circuits I’ve been really looking forward to driving in the Hyundai and I’m going there hopeful of challenging for my best results yet. “At every event I’ve shown good pace and I know that I’m only going to get quicker as the season goes on and I get more experience under my belt. I’d love to head into the summer break with a top ten finish, and will also be pushing hard to try and grab the Jack Sears Trophy this weekend and climb up the standings.” Nick Halstead, #22 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said: “Given the progress we made across the weekend at Thruxton, I’m heading to Oulton Park feeling really positive and looking forward to what will hopefully be a strong meeting. Although I’ve not raced there in front-wheel drive before, it’s a circuit I’m really familiar with and one I’ve always enjoyed driving so I want to try and fight for some strong results before the summer break. “The target is to try and get up into the top 20 across the weekend if I can, and with a few question marks over what the weather might do, there could even be the chance to try and push for some points like we did at Donington Park at the start of the season.” Justina Williams, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Team Owner said: “We secured some really strong results at Oulton Park last season and head into the weekend confident about ending the first half of the campaign on a high. “All four drivers have displayed solid speed so far in what is proving to be another hugely competitive season, and if they can replicate that pace in the three races to come, then we’ll be in a good position going into the summer break.”