Double podium and JST win for Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS

13th June 2024

Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS secured plenty of silverware from the fourth meeting of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season at Thruxton, with two podium finishes and victory in the Jack Sears Trophy.

On a weekend where the team celebrated its 100th race with title partner Bristol Street Motors, things started in promising fashion in free practice, with Tom Ingram - running the #100 to celebrate the milestone, as well as Bristol Street Motors’ centenary - topping the times during the second session.

With Tom Chilton also lapping inside the top ten and Ronan Pearson not far behind, confidence was high going into qualifying, where Ingram and Chilton both made it through to the final Quick Six shootout for pole.

Despite limited hybrid due to his championship position, Ingram stormed to pole by more than a quarter of a second, with Chilton ending up in sixth spot for his best qualifying result since Silverstone last year.

For Pearson and Nick Halstead however, it would be a more difficult session, with Halstead ending up 19th on the grid having dropped out of the session in Q1 and Pearson failing to even leave the pits due to an unfortunate throttle issue on his car.

A tough start to race one saw Ingram overhauled off the line when the lights went out as he slipped back to fourth, which is where he would ultimately then finish having put pressure on defending champion Ash Sutton following an early caution period to move a tyre stack dislodged at the chicane.

Chilton meanwhile moved up into fifth spot on the opening lap of the race but was overhauled by both Dan Rowbottom and Josh Cook after the restart to leave him in seventh spot. Post-race, Rowbottom was penalised for having drawn alongside Chilton too early on the restart, resulting in him being demoted in the result and moving Chilton up into P6.

The dislodged tyre stack on lap one proved to be beneficial to Pearson as he took advantage of cars scattering in front of him to make up five spots and jump into the points, ultimately taking the finish in 15th place. Halstead was able to stay out of trouble to bring his car to the flag in 19th.

A fine start in race two saw Ingram battling for third spot with Dan Cammish going into the chicane.

Overhauling Sutton when he picked up damage to his splitter, Ingram then drew up to leader Jake Hill before taking the lead with a fine move at Church, going on to secure a 30th career win.

Post race however, Ingram was handed a two-place penalty for gaining an unfair advantage when passing Cammish, which demoted him back to third spot.

Shuffled back to eighth on the opening lap, Chilton ran strongly in the midfield pack but would ultimately slip to just outside the top ten by the finish, putting him directly ahead of Pearson after a strong showing from the Scot saw him battle back from a difficult start - where he dropped down to 18th place - to rise up into twelfth.

Halstead repeated his result from the earlier race, taking the flag in 19th, but lapping nearly a second quicker than he had in race one.

The final race of the weekend kicked off with Ingram lining up in eighth place on the reverse grid and he was soon making up places, with impressive moves on Jake Hill and Josh Cook helping him work his way up into fifth. A strong move around the outside into the chicane then resulted in Ingram grabbing fourth from Colin Turkington before he repeated the move on Adam Morgan a lap later.

Ingram would ultimately grab third spot before taking the flag for a second podium finish of the weekend, to remain third in the championship standings going into the next round.

Chilton ran in the top ten in the early stages before a small battery fire forced him to pull off and retire the car, meaning it was Pearson who was the second Hyundai home as he completed his comeback from the issue in qualifying with a solid tenth place. That meant he was the highest scoring Jack Sears Trophy driver from the weekend to secure the round win.

Unfortunately for Halstead, the weekend would end in disappointing fashion when he put a wheel on the grass on the high-speed run through Goodwood and went off into the tyres, leaving him shaken but uninjured.

Tom Chilton, #3 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“Thruxton has been a blast, particularly Saturday when we made it through to Q3. I gave it everything in that session and it was a lot of fun at the wheel of the car. The first race was a good way to start things off despite some contact from a few drivers that I think stopped us from finishing higher, but race two was more of a struggle.

“The circuit conditions changed a lot between the two races and we were just outside the window, which meant I dropped down the order to P11. Then, in race three, we had a battery failure which caused a small fire and killed all the electrics which meant there was no power steering into turn one, which was an experience. I’m gutted not to finish the race as we could have potentially come through the pack, but we’ll take the positives from Saturday and look ahead to the next one.”

Ronan Pearson, #14 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“I wasn’t feeling in a good place after qualifying so to come back from the disappointment of Saturday and race through the field into the top ten - and win the Jack Sears Trophy - is really pleasing. This isn’t the easiest circuit for overtaking, so the fact that we managed to make up ten spots from where we started is really pleasing, and there were moves I made that I certainly wouldn’t have felt confident making twelve months ago.

“The Jack Sears Trophy has been my big focus this season so it’s great to get a first round win of the season under my belt and we’ve also been able to claw some points back in the standings. Like Brands Hatch, this weekend has shown how important it is not to give up, and we’ve battled back well."

Nick Halstead, #22 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“I’m going to feel a bit sore in the morning but pulled muscles are fixable and the car is fixable. The final race had been a tough one as I was suffering with understeer, and I just got a wheel on the grass at one of the fastest parts of the circuit where there is no margin for a mistake. Unfortunately it was at a point where the barriers come closer to the track and there was no way to avoid a big hit.

“This is a circuit where I’ve not done anywhere near as many laps as everywhere else and is always going to be my most difficult weekend of the season. I’d made progress compared to last season, which is the positive for me to take away from the meeting, and now I’ll just look forward to Oulton Park and a circuit that I’m much more comfortable around.”

Tom Ingram, #100 Team BRISTOL STREET MOTORS Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“Obviously I’m disappointed to have lost the win in race two because I felt that avoiding the potential of a collision was the best thing to do. Dan had rolled off the brakes after the first part of the chicane to try and edge back ahead, so cutting the chicane made sure there was no contact between us - and ultimately I got penalised for it.

“Despite that, we’ve actually come away from the weekend with a decent haul of points on the board, which is the key thing we need to be doing at this stage of the season. Our pace was clear to see in qualifying on Saturday and although I didn’t get away as well as I hoped in race one, we had good pace in the race to bring it home in fourth.

“The reverse grid race was also pleasing as we made some really good moves to make our way through into the top four before being forced wide, and to end up with a double podium means we’ve retained our championship position heading to Oulton Park next time out.”

Justina Williams, Team Owner, said:
“It’s frustrating that some decisions haven’t gone our way today and have ultimately cost us a race win that our pace deserved, as once again the Hyundai has shown its speed this weekend. We’ve performed well across race day and to come away with two podium finishes and the Jack Sears Trophy is really pleasing although by the same score, we know it could have been even more.

“Of course the big positive is that Nick if okay after a big hit in the final race of the weekend, and we’ll have his car fighting fit and ready to go for Oulton Park in a few weeks time.” © 2024
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