By Mick Palmer
Excelr8 Mini Challenge racer Ronan Pearson has been confirmed as the final piece of the 2023 BTCC puzzle for the senior team as he steps up to the top level of British motor racing for the upcoming season.
22-year-old Pearson finished fourth in the Quaife backed championship last season during his third campaign for the JCW machines, where he picked up his first three wins at Donington, his native Knockhill and Silverstone.
Excelr8 and Pearson had previously confirmed a fourth season in the series for the Leith driver, but the prospect of grabbing the fourth seat at the team that took Tom Ingram to the title last season was too much of a temptation to be ignored. “ I just couldn’t ignore the fact that there was still a vacancy in the touring car team,” Pearson stated. “Moving into the BTCC is a big step up so we had to have some serious discussions to see if it was feasible to try and make the move a year earlier than I originally planned, and having approached the team to say I wanted to be in the fourth Hyundai, we’ve been able to make things happen – and I couldn’t be happier.”
Pearson rounded off 2022 as the highest positioned Excelr8 team member in the championship. As part of the BTCC junior development programme run by the long time Mini entrants, he becomes the first development driver to step up from within the scheme.
“There is absolutely no doubting the fact that this is a big step up for me, but I know that I’m with the right team to really maximise the opportunity,” he continued “My work on EXCELR8’s Young Driver Development Programme last season means I’m already familiar with the Touring Car side of the team and in Tom Ingram and Tom Chilton, I have two hugely experienced team-mates to learn from.
“As a youngster growing up, I’ve watched people like Gordon Shedden on track and hoped to one day make it all the way to the BTCC myself. I’m hugely excited about getting the new season underway and can only imagine what the feeling will be like when we get to Knockhill later in the year and I head out on track in front of the Scottish fans for the first time.”
Pearson joins Ingram and Chilton, as well as Nick Halstead who joins the team and the series full time after a one-off appearance in 2021. Team boss Justina Williams said: “When we first launched our Young Driver Development Programme, it was always with the goal of bringing a driver through from our Mini Challenge team into touring cars – and we’re delighted that Ronan is the first of those drivers. From the moment he joined our JCW line-up last year, Ronan showed what he can do on-track, but he also displayed the drive and desire off-track that is vital for any driver who wants to compete at the highest level.
“That desire was clear to see when he came to us and said that he wanted to bring forward his touring car plans and race the Hyundai this season rather than return to JCWs for another year. Although it is a big step up, we have no doubt that Ronan is ready.”