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High-speed Thruxton challenge next for BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8
BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 will hope to secure a maiden win at the quickest track on the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship calendar when the series heads for Thruxton this weekend for the fourth meeting of the campaign. The high-speed Hampshire circuit is the only one of the eight that feature on the BTCC calendar where the Suffolk-based squad has yet to secure victory, although it has twice secured top honours in the Jack Sears Trophy – the award for drivers without an overall podium to their name. Going into Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the season, Tom Ingram heads the four-strong BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 in the title race on the back of his first win of the year last time out at Snetterton. Ingram’s 26th career win – and tenth in EXCELR8 colours – was all the more impressive given that he was forced to deal with the effects of a virus throughout the weekend, and helped him stay in touch towards the sharp end in the standings. The defending champion has shown strong pace at Thruxton in the past with two pole positions, two wins and a total of six podiums and he will hope to add to that record in his quest to secure back-to-back titles. Experienced team-mate Tom Chilton sits tenth in the points having ended a four-year victory drought in the season opener at Donington Park, although the former WTCC racer has also suffered his fair share of misfortune in the three rounds run to date. Issues in the opening race at all three meetings have prevented the 38-year-old from putting more points on the board and he will hope for improved fortune at a venue he admits is amongst his favourites on the calendar. Despite passing 450 BTCC starts at Snetterton, Chilton has yet to taste victory at Thruxton – something he is eager to try and fix during the weekend ahead. Touring car rookie Ronan Pearson scored his best result to date at Snetterton and looked set to challenge for a first Jack Sears Trophy victory until an unfortunate retirement in the final race of the weekend ended his chances.
The Scottish youngster will be racing at Thruxton for only the second time in his career, with his only previous appearance coming back in 2018 when competing in the Michelin Clio Cup Series. Whilst that means the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE graduate will face a whole new challenge – particularly given a lack of running on the hard compound tyre being used – the 21-year-old makes the long trip south optimistic about pushing forwards towards the top ten. Thruxton also promises to be a fresh challenge for Nick Halstead, who will be making his first appearance at the circuit since 2020 – and his debut in front-wheel drive. Halstead has already opened his points account for the season thanks to a top-ten finish in the wet at Donington Park, and has shown improved pace in dry conditions across the three rounds run to date. Maintaining his recent progress is the aim of the game going into the Thruxton weekend, with Nick aiming to fight in the pack for three solid race results and more points in the Jack Sears Trophy. Tom Ingram, #1 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N: “Snetterton was a massive weekend given how I was feeling and to come away from there with the points we did could prove to be vital when we get to the end of the season. Moving forward, we’ve shown in the past that the Hyundai is more than capable of challenging for podium finishes at Thruxton, which has to be the target this weekend. “Obviously I want to try and add to my Snetterton win, but at this stage of the campaign, the key thing is to keep putting big points on the board to stay in the mix at the front. Although we don’t have the lottery of different tyres to worry about, the revised hybrid rules we have this season are going to have an impact, particularly in qualifying.
“With that in mind, we need to make sure we have a good run on Saturday as that will be key to our chances on race day.” Tom Chilton, #3 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N: “Luck wasn’t on my side at Snetterton with the issue in race one, but the pace we showed from that point on leaves me in confident mood heading to Thruxton. I absolutely love the circuit as it’s such a unique challenge, and one I look forward to every season. “You need to have a good car underneath you, and have plenty of confidence in it, if you want to be quick at Thruxton and that’s what I now feel I have with the new car that was built over the winter. “Going into this weekend, we’re going to have a decent amount of hybrid available and I hope we can take full advantage to qualify inside the top ten – like we did last year when I was the best-placed Hyundai on the grid on our second visit. The ultimate goal is to take my first Thruxton win, and if I can avoid the misfortune I’ve had in race one at the meetings run so far, I’m hopeful of being in contention.” Ronan Pearson, #14 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N: “I’m really excited to get to Thruxton this weekend, and having not been there since 2018, I know it’s going to be a good challenge for me to now return at the wheel of a BTCC car. “Despite the fact it’s been so long since I visited the circuit, we have a car that is capable of anything and just like Snetterton, I’ll be having to learn and adapt every single lap so that I’m in a position to push for points on race day and hopefully to challenge for the Jack Sears Trophy win. “Thruxton is certainly a quirky circuit and the fastest on our calendar, which is going make for a good spectacle. Fingers crossed we can have a good weekend!” Nick Halstead #22 BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 Fastback N: “Although I’ve raced at Thruxton quite a few times when I was in Ginettas, it’s been a few years since my last visit and I’ve never raced there in a front-wheel drive car, so I’ve got a big learning curve ahead of me. “The key thing for me is to try and have a trouble-free weekend to allow me to maximise my time on track, as that really held me back at Snetterton. Losing track time to some issues on Saturday hampered my chances on race day, as I had good pace by race three but had still been learning in races one and two. “I just need that time on Saturday to get used to the circuit in these cars and build my pace, and if I’m able to do that, then hopefully I can start the weekend showing the kind of pace I had by the end of the weekend at Snetterton. That will give me something I can then build on across the three races to try and push towards the top 20.” Justina Williams, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Team Owner, said: “On the back of a successful weekend at Snetterton, we head for Thruxton in confident mood and hoping for another strong showing from all four drivers. As the only circuit on the calendar where we have yet to take a win, our goal for the weekend ahead is clear and we’ll be working hard to try and break our duck and add a Thruxton victory to our collection.”