KELTY race ace Ronan Pearson felt he was the "most confident" he's been behind the wheel in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) after the series returned for 2024.

The 22-year-old took his place on the grid at the weekend for the opening three rounds of the competition, which accelerated into action at Donington Park, and claimed a strong fifth place in the first race.

However, issues outwith his control prevented him building on that performance, as he went on to place 17th in the second before being forced to retire in the third.

Pearson, a member of the EXCELR8 Motorsport Bristol Street Motors team, impressed in an all-new qualifying format in place for this year, which saw the grid split in half for the first part.

Despite tricky, changeable conditions, he made it through his group and progressed to the final part of qualification, and the 'Quick Six' session, in which he secured fifth spot, his best qualifying result to date.

Heavy overnight rain and into the morning of Sunday's race day meant that no action could take place until after lunch but, when it did begin, Pearson enjoyed a fine result by maintaining his qualifying position of fifth.

Central Fife Times: Pearson enjoyed his best qualifying result at Donington Park.Pearson enjoyed his best qualifying result at Donington Park. (Image: David Wardle.)

In race two, he was again running strongly in the top six before he was forced into a pit stop because of a power steering issue that saw him run off the track.

Although he showed his pace by scoring the fastest lap, Pearson's return to the action a lap down meant he finished outside the points in 17th, before a repeat of the power-steering issues caused him to retire in race three.

"What we did until race two this weekend was incredible and the car was mega," he commented.

"There was just one issue that affected us twice, and we can’t change what happened, but we were up there on merit this weekend, and showed we have the pace, which I think can leave us really confident going forwards.

"I don’t think I’ve driven as well as I have done this weekend. I’m the most confident I think I have ever been in the car and I feel I left nothing on the table, which you can only do when you have confidence in it.

"The things that have hampered us this weekend were outside our control, so there are a lot of positives to take away from it."

Pearson is 13th in the drivers' standings with 12 points, and is third in the Jack Sears Trophy, which is open to drivers who, at the beginning of the season, haven't recorded a podium finish.

The next BTCC race weekend is scheduled to take place on May 11-12 at Brands Hatch Indy, Kent.