Ronan Pearson will drive a Hyundai for Excelr8 Motorsport in the 2023 British Touring Car Championship, completing the Suffolk-based team’s four-strong entry for this season.
The Scot had originally planned to return to the MINI Challenge in 2023, and had been planning to graduate to touring cars for the 2024 season.
However, the 21-year-old will now make that move a year earlier than planned to partner reigning champion Tom Ingram, Tom Chilton and Nick Halstead in one of the team’s four Hyundai i30 N Fastback cars.
Pearson, who will be eligible for the Jack Sears’ Trophy as a driver without a BTCC podium finish to his name, finished fourth overall in last years’ MINI Challenge standings, as part of Excelr8’s team, with three wins, having been eighth the year prior and 11th in his début season in 2020.
“Being part of Excelr8’s touring car line-up this season is a dream come true and I can’t really believe that I’m now going to be part of the BTCC grid,” said Pearson.
“My focus this year was going to be on fighting for the MINI Challenge title after such a strong season in 2022, but I just couldn’t ignore the fact that there was still a vacancy in the touring car team.
“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.
“The ongoing backing from my existing partners – such as William Waugh, Beaver Broadband and KeyProtectPro – has been key to making this possible, as has the new support from Macklin Motors.
“I’m both excited and proud about the opportunity to represent such a major Scottish brand during the year ahead, and will be giving my all to do the best job possible for them and everyone else helped me to get to this stage.
“In particular, I have to thank my dad and my step-mum, as I wouldn’t be in this position without them.
“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.
“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.”
Justina Williams, Excelr8 Motorsport Team Owner, added:
“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, and are confident that – with the support of Macklin Motors – he will show his talent in the Hyundai during the year ahead.”