RONAN PEARSON has admitted that the opportunity to drive in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) is one he had to take.

The Kelty race ace, who said it is something he has “been working toward all my life”, will take to the grid in the series for the first time when the 2023 season begins at Donnington Park over the weekend of April 22-23.

Ronan, 21, has made the step-up from the Quaife Mini Challenge, in which he placed fourth last year, to take up a touring car vacancy within his Macklin Motors backed EXCELR8 Motorsport team, teaming up with current BTCC champion, Tom Ingram.

Elsewhere on the grid, Knockhill Racing Circuit instructor Ronan will go up against the likes of Gordon Shedden and Rory Butcher, 12 months earlier than originally planned, but he felt he had to “grab it with both hands”.

Sitting down to chat with Press Sport recently at Knockhill, he explained: “The plan was 2024, but it’s something I’ve been working toward all my life and, when there’s an opportunity in front of you, you just cannot afford to let that go, because you never know when you’re going to get it again.

“I just have to grab it with both hands and almost chuck yourself in at the deep end a year early.

“The Mini Challenge certainly moulds you well. You have to be fast in one of those cars, which are so difficult to drive, and many people have said you can do well in a touring car. Already, I’m seeing that, so it’s extremely positive.

“It’s incredible. I’ve taken to it like a duck to water.

“It’s not been as hard a transition as I thought. Granted, these are hard cars to drive, but where I’ve come from, it’s set me up really well for this move.

“Some of the techniques I’ve adopted, learned and mastered over the last few years, I can carry forward, but there is a helluva lot of new stuff I need to learn.”

Testing ahead of the season’s start has been taking place and, when asked if being a BTCC driver as sunk in, Ronan replied: “It certainly has. It’s really sunk in.

“It was a bit surreal for the first few weeks. There was a whole load of talking about it, and I just wanted to get going, but I’ve now had my first two test days in the car, so that’s all you need for it to be feeling real.

“I’ve done really well as well, so it’s helped me. I was a bit apprehensive, a bit nervous, but now I feel like I am a touring car driver.

“You deal with hundreds upon thousands of emails, and hundreds of phone calls, in a short period of time to put everything together and make everything work so, to actually get behind the wheel in anger, always felt really far away in the distance for me.

“To be actually able to do that the last two days has really made it hit home that this is now what my year has in store for me.”