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BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 chasing home success at Snetterton
BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 will hope to return to the top of the podium when the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads to Snetterton this weekend for the third round of the season. The Suffolk-based team has enjoyed a solid start to the 2023 campaign, with Tom Chilton taking a race win at Donington Park and defending champion Tom Ingram scoring four podium finishes in six starts to sit second in the early season standings. Ingram has enjoyed success at Snetterton in the past, not least in his first year as part of the EXCELR8 line-up when he picked up the team’s maiden BTCC win at its home circuit. In total Ingram has taken to the podium ten times at the Norfolk venue, and will now hope to try and add more silverware to his tally as he chases a first victory of the campaign. Chilton heads to Snetterton sitting inside the top ten in the championship standings, but eager to bounce back from a tricky weekend last time out at Brands Hatch. Despite showing solid pace in practice and qualifying, Chilton saw his hopes of three strong results on race day hurt by a gear linkage issue that meant he had to start race one from the pit lane, although he recovered to maintain his 100 per cent scoring record this season. Like Ingram, he will hope to add to an impressive Snetterton record that includes eighth previous podium finishes. Of the two rookie drivers in the line-up, Ronan Pearson opened his point-scoring account at Brands Hatch, where he managed to bring home a pair of 13th-place finishes. The Scot had earlier qualified inside the top ten for the first time, and will hope to build on the pace he has shown so far at a circuit where he too has taken to the podium in the past during his time in the MINI CHALLENGE.
Ronan will also be looking to make up ground in the Jack Sears Trophy, as well Nick Halstead after a weekend of mixed fortunes last time out after contact in qualifying left him right at the back of the grid. Halstead has already picked up an overall points finish this season at Donington Park and will hope for three more trouble-free races this weekend to aid his JST challenge, with a focus on also gaining additional experience and trying to work his way up the overall order. Whilst qualifying this weekend will revert back to a single-session format, the four drivers will have to use all three compound of Goodyear tyre on race day – with the soft, medium and hard tyre all needing to be run across the three races. Tom Ingram, #1 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said: “Looking at the first two weekends, we’ve not been able to secure a race win but we’ve been really consistent and have been able to put some solid points on the board – which I know from experience is important at this stage of the year. “Snetterton as a circuit that has served me well in the past, particularly in recent years when I’ve been on pole position and have won races, and I’m hopeful we can be in a strong position again this time around at one of my favourites venues on the calendar. “Obviously we have to wait and see how things pan out, but if we can start the weekend strong then there is no reason why we can’t be in the mix for pole position and some race wins. There is a bit of a step into the unknown with the tyres but everyone else is in the same boat and it’s going to make things interesting.” Tom Chilton, #3 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said: “Despite the win at Donington Park, I’ve had a bit of bad luck across the opening two rounds and I’m hoping that I can put that behind me and that the stars will align when we get to Snetterton. “I’m feeling confident and I know that I have more hybrid going into the weekend than my rivals at the front, which I think is going to help when it comes to qualifying and the opening race. In an ideal world, I can push for a win there but the main aim is to try and make sure we score well in all three races – as Tom Ingram often says, I need to be ‘pointsy’! “The tyre rules are really going to mix things up as the stop/start nature of the first sector should really show the difference between the different compounds. It’s all going to come down to who can get their car working on all three compounds and I expect it to be action-packed.”
Ronan Pearson, #14 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said: “I’m really excited as this is another new track for me in the car and I’m feeling positive that I can do something good, but depends on me and the car working together. I’m keen to pick up where I left off in terms of the promising pace from Brands Hatch and keep doing what I’ve been doing to this point. “The goal is to really push for a big score in the Jack Sears Trophy and I think it will really help me that it looks like being a consistent weekend in terms of the weather, as it means we will have the chance to work through our programme and then build on it on race day – rather than having to adopt a different mindset for the different conditions. “That has made the opening two rounds a real challenge for me given my experience, but I’m pleased with how I’ve performed and am up for the fight this weekend.” Nick Halstead, #22 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said: “I’m adopting a similar approach to last time out, although hopefully I’ll have a better run in qualifying and can go from there. Although I was able to do quite a lot of pre-season testing, most of it was in damp or wet conditions so I’m looking forward to the opportunity to have a whole weekend in the dry to gain more experience. “Running the different tyres was something that was totally new to me at Brands Hatch, and it will be the same this weekend as I’ve never driven on the hard compound tyre before. It will make strategy quite interesting and will give the whole grid a bit of a random element that I’m sure will provide the fans with plenty of action.” Justina Williams, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Team Owner, said: “Snetterton is always a big weekend for us as our home circuit, and I think we can do into this weekend feeling confident about our chances. All four drivers have shown their place across the opening two weekends of the season and we are well-placed in the championship standings, which is something us to try and now build on over the next three races.”