September 17, 2021

Vansdirect and ExcelR8 Motorsport Round Up – British Touring Car Championship 2021


Welcome to our race by race round up of the British Touring Car Championship, following our partners ExcelR8 Motorsport and their team drivers, Tom Ingram and Chris Smiley. Here we’ll share commentary and official race images including lots of podium celebrations! Good luck Tom and Chris!

Rounds 15, 16 & 17 – Thruxton | 28th & 29th Aug 2021

Tom Ingram Car

Both drivers showed solid pace across the two free practice sessions but Saturday’s qualifying session brought mixed results in the highly-competitive field, with Tom
taking his ballast-heavy i30 Fastback N to twelfth place and Chris Smiley lining up in 16th.

The close nature of the field would restrict the amount of overtaking on race day, they were able to make up ground in race one, with Tom working his way up into the top ten to finish in tenth spot, and Chris finishing just outside the points in 16th.

Chris Smiley Car

With the success ballast removed from his car for race two, Tom was quickly making up places at the start and soon found himself running in sixth behind the Toyota of Rory Butcher. Tom finally made pressure on his rival pay as he got ahead into fifth but his good work was undone when an unfortunate puncture on the final lap exiting Church and heading up to the Chicane dropped him to twelfth place.

One of those drivers to benefit was Chris, who found himself as part of the train of cars chasing Butcher’s Toyota and crossed the line in eleventh spot.

Tom Ingram Car

The final race of the weekend would be affected by three separate safety car periods that made it hard for drivers to get into a rhythm but Tom was one of those drivers able to make up places in the limited racing available, picking off cars ahead with a number of impressive overtakes to secure fifth place – crucially taking points out of championship leader Ash Sutton.

Just as important for the team’s title challenge, Chris was able to fight his way forwards to finish inside the top ten and produced a strong drive to keep Sutton at bay throughout having fought ahead of the points leader just before the half-way stage.

Up next, Croft.

Race Tom Ingram Chris Smiley
1 P10 P16
2 P12 P11
3 P5 P10

Rounds 12, 13 & 14 – Knockhill | 14th & 15th Aug 2021

Tom Ingram Win

After a more than dissapointing weekend at Oulton Park the team were desperate to get out on the front foot at Knockhill. Chris found the form of the team during free practice, posting the fastest time across the two sessions combined. He took this form in to qualifying and secured P3 on the grid. Tom was carrying extra success ballast but nevertheless was only a tenth down on Chris’ time. However due to the tightness in qualifying he found himself P9.

Chris drove a great race and held his position until eight laps remained. Unfortunately he was unable to hold off Josh Cook and Ash Sutton but a P5 finish was his best in the Hyundai and something to be happy with. Tom in his heavier car drove a solid race on the medium tyres and posted a P10 finish.

Chris Smiley Knockhill

Race two started in dramatic fashion when Chris stalled on the line. The trailing pack managed to avoid him and when he did fire, he managed to get back to 17th spot in the end. Tom as left to lead the way for the team and he battled hard and was able to end the race in P6 which gave him a much needed points boost in the championship.

Tom Ingram Knockhill

In the final race, Chris started from 13th on the grid but put in some incredible lap times to put to bed the issues of race two. He had a long battle with all three Infinity cars in the middle pack and he was able to finish up in P6 and take home some welcome points.

The reverse grid saw Tom starting in P4 but he had an advantage of running soft tyres where those in front were on the slower medium compound. He quickly took Senna Proctor on lap one before setting in for a ding dong battle with the experienced Jason Plato. Eventually a mistake gave Tom the gap he needed and he was able to set his sights on Stephen Jelly and another race win.

Thruxton is next at the end of August.

Race Tom Ingram Chris Smiley
1 P10 P5
2 P6 P13
3 P1 P6

Rounds 9, 10 & 11 – Oulton Park | 31st July & 1st Aug 2021

Tom Ingram and Chris Smiley Cars

The team headed in to Oulton park full of confidence after Brands Hatch and lifted by the expectation of a full house of fans but it was in reality a pretty bruising weekend for the team. Free practice went pretty well but when it came to qualifying it was a different story.

Despite fighting hard, Chris Smiley could only manage starting the first race from P20 and even worse for Tom Ingram as he failed to get a qualifying lap in due to a wastegate issue. This landed him at the back of the grid and with ballast on board, it was going to be a long race. Despite a good start making up four places Chris was taken out by the BMW of Tom Oliphant. Tom was able to negotiate the carnage and finish P19 at the end.

Chris Smiley

The second race of the day proved to be a better affair for both drivers. Free of ballast, Tom was able to utilise the pace of the Hyundai and fought through the pack to finish P10. Chris was starting from P26 on the grid and drove an absolute stormer to finish in P14. From here the team hoped to kick on but unfortunately the demons reappeared for the final race of the day.

Tom Ingram

On lap one of race three a multi-car pile up meant a red flag and it meant a significant delay while the affected cars were cleared. When the race eventually got underway Tom was fast on the attack but had to take drastic action to avoid the spinning Infiniti of Ash Sutton. This forced him on to the grass and he had to pit to clear the grass from the radiator. This saw him rejoin in last place and was only able to finish with one point for the fastest lap.

Chris started the final race in 14th and was fully embroiled in a battle to reach the top 10. He did eventually gain that spot when the race was stopped early due to the pack around him getting too involved with each other and causing an incident.

It’s fair to say that the team were happy to see the back of Oulton Park and very much set their sights on a better turn at Knockhill

Race Tom Ingram Chris Smiley
1 P19 DNF
2 P10 P14
3 P21 P10

Rounds 6, 7 & 8 – Brands Hatch | 26th & 27th June 2021

Ingram and Smiley BTCC

Off the back of a first race win for Tom Ingram and a much more competitive weekend for Chris Smiley, the team faced a different test at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent. The free practice sessions went without a hitch, Tom fourth fastest and Chris 12th but just two tenths of a second behind Tom, so it was very close.

Moving in to qualifying with weather improving, Tom and Chris both hit the grid in the top 10, P6 and P8 respectively. The start went well for Tom, moving up to P3 but a tap from Gordon Sheddon saw him fall back to sixth. Switching between sixth and seventh, Tom eventually crossed the line P6 which, given the extra weight, was a good result. Chris had a fairly clear race throughout and secured a great P7 and solid points for him and the team.

Smiley BTCC

Where race one passed with relative calm, race two was far from uneventful for Tom. Again, Tom was fast off the start and hit P3 where he hunted Dan Rowbottom for half of the race. Unfortunately, an opportune move from Jake Hill saw him slip a place before Hill suffered a puncture. From that point Tom chased down the top two and on the final lap was able to take the lead from Oliphant and he held on for his second win of the season.

Chris again had a solid race in the top ten and was able to come home again in P7, adding more points to his weekend haul.

Ingram BTCC podium

The final race of the weekend would see Tom with full ballast and this meant he spent the race in a midfield battle starting from P12. This is where he ended the race, two places behind Chris who completed the weekend with a third top 1o spot.

Undoubtedly this was a great weekend for the two ExcelR8 drivers. It’s Oulton Park next but not until the end of July. So plenty of time to prepare and build on a great start to the season!

Race Tom Ingram Chris Smiley
1 P6 P7
2 P1 P7
3 P12 P10

Rounds 3, 4 & 5 – Snetterton | 12th & 13th June 2021

Tom Ingram Finish Line

The fans are back!

What a great sight for the team to see fans back around the race circuit and it must have given the team a great lift becuase we got our first win of the season in round six.

The weekend started well with Tom and Chris qualifying P3 and P2 respectively. In the first race the signs were good as both drivers finished ahead of their start position with Tom finishing on the podium in P2 and Chris making it to P10.

Chris Smiley Racing

The second race saw the top ten line up with extra weight added and this thwarted Tom to some degree as he fell from P2 to P4. It was tough battle all race with the Ford Focus of Ollie Jackson and eventually Tom crossed the line holding on to P4.

Chris battled well through the race and was unfortunate to drop a place by the finish line. Unfortunately a one second time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage meant he was dropped down to P13 post-race. Nevertheless, confidence was high going in to the final round.

Tom Ingram Podium

This was when it all came together for Tom. Starting P4 for the final race he quickly launch in to third and on lap two he had taken second spot from Tom Oliphant. A great battle then saw him take the front from Stephen Jelley and from here on in he could sense the first win of th season for him and the ExcelR8 team.

Chris was able to hold on to a third points finish of the weekend with another performance to be really happy with. it certainly will have put the memories of a tough opening weekend to bed.

Snetterton Results

Race Tom Ingram Chris Smiley
1 P2 P11
2 P4 P13
3 P1 P10

 

Rounds 1, 2 & 3 – Thruxton | 8th & 9th May 2021

Tom Ingram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thruxton is the fastest track on the BTCC calendar so was a great opportunity for the team to test out their new Hyundai i30N race cars.

Qualifying on Saturday, despite the wet conditions, proved really successful with Tom Ingram qualifying P4 and Chris Smiley coming in to race one in P10. Everyone felt positive for the Sunday.

Sunday started well for Tom after reigning champion Ash Sutton span off on the first lap. Tom climbed to P2, overtaking Colin Turkington, and never looked like losing that spot for the whole race, chasing eventual winner Josh Cook in the Honda Civic. Sadly, Chris was forced into retirement when he was hit by the out-of-control Honda of Gordon Shedden, ending up in the tyres at Goodwood.

The second race saw a very early stoppage for a multi-car crash and soon after the restart Tom found himself down in fifth after losing momentum in a corner. He then succumbed to a lighter Honda but was able to hold on to sixth until the end. Again, for Chris is was bad luck as a mechanical fault forced him to retire.

The drama continued in to race three with Tom landing a thirty second stop go penalty after an issue on the grid. He was unable to recover and finished a disappointing 22nd. Chris began the final race in P23 with the rain starting to fall. Despite making it in to the top 10 and unfortunate loss of traction meant he finished P15.

Plenty of positives to take in to Snetterton. We can’t wait!

Chris Smiley

Thruxton Results

Race Tom Ingram Chris Smiley
1 P2 DNF
2 P6 DNF
3 P22 P15