When British Touring Car Championship front-runner Tom Ingram announced he was leaving Speedworks Motorsport back in December, there was widespread surprise among fans of the series.
Ingram had joined the team for his BTCC debut in 2014, and the partnership progressed from being a solid midfield outfit to front-running force across seven seasons together.
Differing commercial requirements between team and driver left Ingram to consider his options for this year, but he was understandably a driver in demand given his success on track over recent seasons.
In the end, a multi-year deal was signed with ExcelR8 Motorsport. These relative newcomers to touring car racing joined the grid for the first time as recently as 2019. The Suffolk-based outfit had shown glimpses of potential in 2020 after bringing the Hyundai name into the BTCC with the new i30 Fastback N, but was still something of an unknown quantity – and the only team on this season’s entry list without a BTCC win to its name.
Signing Ingram, as well as doubling in size from two cars to four, was seen as a signal of intent, but there were still plenty of questions about whether or not it was the right deal if Ingram was to add to his win tally and challenge for silverware.
Fast forward to the start of autumn, however, and as the BTCC speeds towards the final stages of the campaign, the decision has more than been vindicated. The Hyundai is now a proven race winner, and Ingram is firmly in the mix for the title as he seeks to wrest the crown from defending champion Ash Sutton.
The rapid progress ExcelR8 has made over two and a half seasons in Britain’s most popular race series has been impressive, but it should come as little surprise given the success it has enjoyed since being founded by Justina Williams and husband Antony back in 2010.
In its debut season on track in the Mini Challenge, ExcelR8 carried Luke Caudle to the JCW title. The team went on to defend it 12 months later with Chris Knox, who then won again in 2014. Success would keep on coming in both the JCW and Cooper classes, meaning ExcelR8 would go on to win everything there was to win in the Mini Challenge. With a desire to show what the team could do at a higher level, the BTCC was the logical next step.