Reis Motorsport Insurance support Tom Ingram as he once again wins to jump to top of the BTCC table.
Tom Ingram has leapfrogged into the lead of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after a superb weekend at Donington Park (15/16 April), as he and Speedworks Motorsport secured their second victory of 2017 in emphatic fashion with a commanding performance.
Ingram headed to Donington – where he had set the benchmark pace in the only official pre-season test a month earlier – carrying 66kg of success ballast aboard his Toyota Avensis following his curtain-raising triumph at Brands Hatch. That, however, did not hold him back in free practice as the talented young Bucks ace lapped comfortably inside the top four in both sessions amongst the 32 high-calibre contenders – some of the finest touring car protagonists on the planet.
He maintained that impressive form in qualifying to line up an excellent third on the starting grid for race one, driving on the absolute ragged edge of adhesion and underscoring just how much he was pushing with a wild trip across the gravel.
As one of only two drivers in the field on the harder-compound Dunlop rubber in the opener, Ingram stormed into the lead as the lights went out and artfully controlled a cold tyre slide through the Craner Curves to sprint almost a second clear by the end of the first lap.
Ultimately, the extra weight was always going to tell as the race progressed, and after grittily remaining in charge for the first four tours, the three-time Ginetta Champion and former British Karting Champion inevitably found himself forced to yield to several lighter rivals. He subsequently produced a defensive masterclass to heroically stave off intense pressure from reigning champion Gordon Shedden, Adam Morgan and Rob Collard to snare fifth at the chequered flag.
With 27kg removed from his Avensis for race two in the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised BTCC – commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series – Ingram made short work of scything his way past Matt Neal, Rob Austin, Colin Turkington and Collard before relieving Aiden Moffat of the top spot with a perfectly-judged move down the Craner Curves on lap four. Immediately scampering clear, the 23-year-old stretched his advantage to almost four seconds at the flag as his success made him the BTCC’s first multiple winner of the season and vaulted him to the summit of the Drivers’ standings.
The heavens then opened ahead of the day’s finale, severely reducing grip levels and sending countless cars – the #80 Toyota amongst them – aquaplaning off-track left, right and centre. The red flags unsurprisingly flew, prompting a re-start once the rain had abated. Despite grappling with maximum ballast, Ingram maturely mastered the spray and low setting sun to tally another top five finish from eighth on the grid, barely a second adrift of the rostrum.
That means the KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member will next travel to Thruxton – scene of his maiden car racing podium and win and a second career BTCC pole position last year – 14 points ahead of his closest adversary in the chase for the coveted crown and similarly atop the Independents’ Trophy classification.
Speedworks Motorsport has taken the wraps off its 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) challenger, with high hopes that the facelifted Toyota Avensis will help to propel the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit to Independents’ glory in what is widely regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series.
Speedworks enjoyed its most successful BTCC campaign to-date in 2016, as three-time Ginetta Champion and former British Karting Champion Tom Ingram stunned with both his and the team’s maiden pole position and race victory in the Brands Hatch curtain-raiser. He added to that with a second triumph at Silverstone and was a consistent podium threat at every circuit on the calendar.
Not only that, but the talented young Bucks ace proved to be the fastest average qualifier in the field – no mean feat in a series uniting some of the very best touring car protagonists on the planet. His results earned him fourth place amongst the 24 high-calibre contenders in the final Independents’ Trophy standings, with Speedworks snaring a best-yet third spot in the Independent Teams’ Trophy classification.
With even loftier ambitions in its sights for 2017, the plucky giant-killing squad has substantially updated its #80 entry, with a primary focus on aerodynamics, cooling and damping, revised bodywork from bumper to boot lid and a distinctive new front grille in a concerted bid to enhance efficiency.
It will be the only facelifted Avensis on the 32-strong grid, and Team Principal Christian Dick can scarcely contain his anticipation as Speedworks revs up towards its seventh season in the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised, all-action BTCC.
“This is the biggest single overhaul the Avensis has ever had, and we are confident that we have taken significant strides in every respect,” he affirmed. “We decided towards the end of 2016 which direction we wanted to pursue and that gave us a head start on a lot of the groundwork. The boys have put in an immense effort over the winter, and what they have produced is a real testament to the strength-in-depth and design expertise inside this team. The car looks quite different from every angle, and we’re all extremely excited to see how it performs when it hits the track.
“The Avensis still has plenty of untapped potential, and our objective was to keep it fresh by bringing it right up-to-date. We carefully evaluated every aspect and identified quite a few areas in which we could make gains. The BTCC is so tight and intensely competitive that you have to carry on continuously developing because if you stand still, you will go backwards very quickly.
“2016 was by far our best season to-date in the championship, but we are certainly not going to rest on our laurels and we are all eager to take another step forward in 2017. By the time we get to Brands Hatch for the first round, we intend to be every bit as strong if not stronger than we were 12 months ago. As a team, it is imperative that we are absolutely on top of our game throughout. We have to be gunning for the Independents’ crown this year – and if we can do that, there is no reason why we can’t also be in with a shot at the overall title going into the final weekend…”
Ingram will put the redesigned Avensis through its paces for the first time at Portimão in southern Portugal this week as Speedworks aims to make the most of some milder weather. The 23-year-old KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member echoes Dick’s palpable enthusiasm about the team’s prospects for the forthcoming campaign.
“I’ve spent a lot of time up at the Speedworks factory over the winter, closely following the changes to the Avensis, and I cannot tell you how much of a buzz there is about the package we now have underneath us,” he revealed. “On paper, we have improved the car pretty much across the board and if it goes even half as quick as it looks, we will be in good shape. I can’t wait to get out there!”
The Reis Motorsport Insurance brand is well known across the rallying community and this new partnership will also be the preferred insurance partner for all events in the championship. The new tie-in further reinforces Reis’s support of motorsport at all levels as they also recently announced a partnership with the British Motorsport Marshals Club throughout the year.
Robert Beck, Championship Coordinator of the SRC commented: “It’s a real honour to have brands such as Pirelli, Reis Motorsport Insurance and the Coltel Group as partners this year and a true testament to how the Scottish Rally Championship is going from strength to strength as each season passes”.
Mark Taylor, Deputy Head of Motorsport for Reis added: “This is the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship”.
The opening round of the SRC takes place on February 18th with the Arnold Clark Jurys Inn Snowman Rally based in Inverness.
Reis Motorsport Insurance celebrated two new partnerships at Autosport International 2017 at the NEC Birmingham last week. Marking a focus on motorsport safety, The British Motorsport Marshals Club will join our existing sponsorship portfolio for 2017, alongside the Scottish Rally Championship.
The British Motorsports Marshals Club are at the heart of the industry and their volunteer officials and marshals are the linchpins to helping ensure the safety of all those taking part in the sport. Partnering with the Scottish Rally Championship also aids Reis’s dedication to supporting competitive racing at all levels, with a presence in domestic stage rallying.
Mark Taylor, Deputy Head of Motorsport Broking at Reis Motorsport Insurance, comments: “In 2017 a key focus for us is motorsport safety for all participants. We deal with risk on a daily basis and understand the need to support those who facilitate the safety and smooth running of our sport, whilst also promoting the importance and benefits personal accident cover can offer to those taking part. We’re delighted to partner with these dynamic organisations, to complement our on-going sponsorship of Tom Ingram and Speedworks in the BTCC.’
Nadine Lewis, British Motorsport Marshals Club Chairman, comments: “We’re the largest marshalling organisation in the world and in our diamond anniversary year, we’re delighted to welcome Reis as one of our sponsors. Founded in 1957, the club still follows its original objectives of training and providing marshals for all forms of motorsport and provides officials for all the organising clubs in the country. The club has over 2,300 volunteer members, who will benefit from subsidised overalls which provide protection whilst ensuring visibility and we look forward to working with Reis for the future benefit of marshals and motorsport.’
Dave Weston, from ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship comments: “The championship has gone from strength to strength in recent years and we’re delighted to have Reis Motorsport Insurance on board this season, for the first time. As well as being championship partners, Reis will also be the preferred insurance provider for all our events and competitors. The Scottish Championship has a fantastic reputation for breeding champions in the sport such as Colin McRae who started his career in the series. After the epic battle for title honours which went down to the very last stage of the final round in 2016, we’re looking forward to another great year of rallying in the Scottish forests.”
Image (from left to right) Mark Taylor, Deputy Head at Reis Motorsport Insurance, Nadine Lewis, Chairman of the British Motorsport Marshals Club and Tom Ingram, BTCC driver.
Team and driver renew relationship following stellar 2016 campaign
Cheshire-based outfit firmly focussed on Independents’ Trophy
Bucks ace Ingram keen to add consistency to his armoury for title bid
Speedworks Motorsport has re-signed Tom Ingram for a fourth consecutive Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) campaign in 2017, with the plucky Independent outfit and its highly-rated young charge both bullish about their prospects in the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series.
Having broken through with their maiden podium finishes in 2015, Ingram and Speedworks took another step forward last year by coming out-of-the-blocks in dazzling form to win the first race of the season as the talented Bucks ace converted pole position into both his and the Northwich, Cheshire-based squad’s maiden BTCC victory.
That was bolstered by a second success at Silverstone later on in the campaign, in addition to ten further top six finishes – four of them on the rostrum. Those results secured KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member Ingram tenth spot amongst the 35 high-calibre protagonists in the final Drivers’ standings and fourth in the Independents’ Trophy, with Speedworks snaring seventh in the Teams’ table and third-best Independent entry, marking an improvement in every area at the end of a season that was widely regarded as one of the toughest in living memory.
Indeed, only head gasket failure in the penultimate outing at Silverstone ruled Ingram out of overall title contention entering the Brands Hatch GP finale, and in evidence of his outstanding raw speed, the 23-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star wound up as the fastest average qualifier in the field in 2016, annexing a brace of pole positions and two further front row starts behind the wheel of the #80 Toyota Avensis as he missed the top ten just once.
Following the mantra that if it ain’t broke, there is no reason to fix it, Speedworks Team Principal Christian Dick is in optimistic mood as he outlines his objectives for the forthcoming campaign.
“Last year was beyond doubt our best yet in the BTCC by a country mile,” he reflected. “Winning our first race was a massively significant milestone, and to then back that promise up by fighting towards the sharp end season-long represented a huge step forward. That said, it was far from perfect and there are many aspects that we have focussed on refining over the winter to enhance our performance for 2017 because the championship never stands still.
“Keeping Tom on-board is a major coup. He was unquestionably one of the BTCC’s standout stars last year and with a competitive car underneath him, he consummately proved his potential with both his pace and racecraft, all underpinned by a mature and intelligent approach that belies his age. He is at the forefront of the series’ next generation and a champion of the future, I am sure.
“There are clearly areas in which both we as a team and he as a driver still need to improve, but we have been working tirelessly on all fronts since last season ended and I think the benefits of that effort and remaining together for a fourth year will shine through when we hit the track. There has been a raft of updates to the Avensis that we are all very excited about, and we believe we can be genuine contenders for the Independents’ crown in 2017. Brands Hatch cannot come round soon enough!”
“It was a very easy decision to stay with Speedworks,” concurred three-time Ginetta Champion and former British Karting Champion Ingram. “In a championship as ultra-competitive and unpredictable as the BTCC, the importance of continuity can never be overstated.
“We made tremendous progress last season, and to win our first race together in the very first round was an incredible achievement. Our qualifying pace was superb and our race pace was equally strong. Quite frankly, I don’t see anybody else in our position and with our level of resources doing a better job out there.
“Last year was both mine and Speedworks’ first experience of competing regularly up at the front in the BTCC; yes, I’ve won races and championships in lower categories and Christian has done likewise in other series as a team owner, but the BTCC is a whole different ballgame and that meant there was a lot of learning to be done in the full glare of 20 million people!
“It’s vital in the BTCC to make hay on the good days and make the most of the bad days – but last year, our bad days were very, very bad. In races two and three at Brands Hatch Indy, Donington Park and Thruxton early in the season, we scored a grand total of two points and then Rockingham was quite literally a pointless weekend.
“In nine of the 30 races, we didn’t score at all and in two more we picked up just a single point. If we’d been more consistent and averaged just eighth place in each of those races, we’d have won the championship – I think that’s a measure of how much potential there is inside this team, which is hugely exciting heading into 2017.
“The benefit of all the experience we have gained will galvanise us and we now have a much stronger package all-round and a completely different mindset and approach. Having broken our duck, that box has been ticked and we can focus on the bigger picture. We have proved we deserve to be here and will go into the new season with a lot more confidence – whereas last year we were simply hoping to be in the mix, this year we will be aiming to win.
“The key will be to finish races, stay out of trouble and keep scoring points – and ultimately, I want to be going to Brands Hatch in October in with a shot at the overall title.”
That aim is shared by Speedworks and Ingram’s loyal partners, who form the backbone of the team’s challenge in the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised, all-action BTCC, with Reis Motorsport Insurance, Hansford Sensors, Motul and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) all recommitting to the cause for another year.
“Building upon a successful relationship, we’re delighted to be extending our sponsorship of Tom Ingram and Speedworks Motorsport in 2017,” enthused Mark Taylor, Deputy Head of Motorsport Broking at Reis Motorsport Insurance. “The team showed huge passion, dedication and skill in last year’s championship and to see Tom on the top step of the podium was fantastic.
“Tom will also be joining us on our stand at the Autosport International Show at 09:30 on Thursday, 12 January to celebrate working together over the coming season.”
“We are very pleased to announce our continued support of Tom Ingram and Speedworks Motorsport in the BTCC in 2017,” echoed Hansford Sensors Managing Director Chris Hansford. “We wish Tom all the best for the year ahead and hope we can assist him in his further development.”
“Motul has partnered Speedworks Motorsport for the past three years, during which time we have been made to feel a part of both the team and the wider BTCC family,” remarked Richard Scarbrough, Sales Director at the Witham Group, Motul’s principal UK importer and distributor. “Having watched Tom and the team gain tremendously in stature – particularly in 2016 – we are all eager to see what they can achieve together this season.”
“The Road Haulage Association is excited to once again be sponsoring Speedworks Motorsport and Tom Ingram,” added RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett. “Not only have the past two seasons seen Tom develop into an extremely successful and competent racing driver, but his involvement with the RHA has had an enormous effect on raising the profile of the industry amongst, potentially, the next generation of truck drivers.” Image Credit: Matt Sayle Photography
I have competed in various forms of motorsport for over 37 years but, at the time, I never did consider the potential consequences if I had an accident, to me or my young family. For instance, I might have been unable to work, financially support them, or live a normal able bodied life. I put it down to that immortal and invincible attitude of youth at the time, which I’m certainly not proud of it, (and now shudder at the thought)!
In motorsport, every driver, mechanic and co-driver takes a risk when they go on track, knowing that an accident may occur. I personally dreaded that one day I may have to explain to a family that someone under my care had been injured or killed. I therefore insisted that our competition budget contributed to everyone in the teams I managed, having Personal Accident and Repatriation Insurance.
Long before I joined the insurance world, about three hours before the start of a round in the MSA British Rally Championship, I assembled sixty or so competitors together. I asked how many had taken out personal accident insurance and was stunned with the response, only six had! Outspoken as always, I reprimanded them, reminding them that they had a responsibility to others and should be ashamed of themselves as the majority of standard life insurance products exclude dangerous activities, including motorsport and especially stage rallying. I was met with stark faces.
Back in the day of course I was also guilty, thinking that, in the UK, we are blessed with free emergency treatment, repatriation and health care, why bother. But is it right that we expect the tax payer to pick up the tab? What would happen to my life and those that rely on me if I needed major life care, or was unable to bring home a salary? Outside of the UK, medical repatriation can be a major cost, especially outside the EU where fees can be life changing amounts of money.
The FIA has regulated the need to have repatriation insurance as a compulsory requirement for entrants taking part in any of their World or Regional rallies. Should such social responsibility need to be regulated? In a world of “It won’t happen to me.”, the FIA clearly thinks so!
Personal accident insurance policies are available for motorsport participants who compete from amateur through to a professional level in most parts of the world. I would challenge drivers, co-drivers, participants and team owners to seriously consider the consequences of injuries. Insurance is a risk transfer mechanism, you don’t need it, until you need it! When we have all done our best to mitigate chances of the incident happening in the first place, you can sleep sound in the knowledge that no matter the outcome, everyone is protected.
Yorkshire rally driver Sam Bilham had the perfect end to his season after winning the 2300 Club John Easson Award. The prestigious award provides a total of £5,000 towards Bilham’s 2017 rallying campaign and will offer a significant boost to his plans for the season ahead.
The 20 year old Ford Fiesta driver has enjoyed a fruitful 2016, becoming the Maxxis MSA English Rally Champion and Fiesta ST Trophy runner up after leading the series for much of the year. His impressive pace as the year progressed and one hundred per cent finishing record did not go unnoticed by the judging panel.
Comprising of co-driver Ian Grindrod, journalist Jack Benyon, rally driver John Cope and 2015 Award winner Matthew Jackson, the panel singled out Bilham from the three finalists after his success in the BTRDA Rally series and his determination to further his motorsport career in the future.
First run in 2004, the award is named after rally driver John Easson who was an avid supporter of the 2300 Car Club before losing his life in an air accident in 1999. With £5,000 up for grabs for the winning contestant, the award is regarded as the most sought after title in the rallying community.
After winning The Next Big Step in 2013, Bilham is delighted with his latest award and had sighted the John Easson title as a significant step in his career. “It’s a true honour to add my name to the extensive and impressive list of drivers who have won the award in the past” says Bilham. “The financial assistance offered is second to none and this is a huge boost to my plans for 2017. We have enjoyed a great season in the BTRDA and Fiesta ST Trophy but this will allow us to expand on our success this year. I really hope to do the panel of judges and the Award, proud next season.”
Bilham has been a finalist for three years in succession but after being runner up since 2014, was determined to make the grade on his third attempt. “It’s the best prize in rallying so I just had to go for it again” he says. “Having another year under my belt helped and this is the biggest opportunity I`ve had to progress. Ever since my Junior Rally Championship days I`ve wanted to make sure we did what was best for my career and this will make all the difference. To be honest, it really hasn’t quite sunk in yet and when you consider the previous winners of the award, I really am in great company”.
Previous winners of the Award include World Rally Championship driver Osian Pryce and European contender Chris Ingram.
Image: Sam Bilham in action in his Reis Motorsport Insurance backed Fiesta ST. Credit: Chicane Media.
Bingley rally star Sam Bilham finished off his season in style last weekend as he became the 2016 Maxxis MSA English Rally Champion at the MEM Malton Forest Rally in Yorkshire.
The Fiesta ST Trophy front runner conquered the tricky conditions in the Dalby Forest based event, to seal the prestigious title with a close two point advantage over his nearest rival. In a weekend of success for Bilham, the 20 year old also took the Class 4 English Championship honours and became Junior vice champion in the process.
The 2016 season has been a successful affair for Bilham who finished every event in the BTRDA Rally Series, culminating in victory at September’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire in his Reis Motorsport Insurance backed Fiesta ST. Having led the Fiesta ST Trophy for much of the year, he had to make do with second in the championship but his impressive finishing record had put him within arm’s reach of the coveted MSA English Championship title.
After finishing the BTRDA season in Yorkshire, Bilham would head back into the Dalby Forest just a few weeks later in a bid to secure the English title. Joined by co-driver James Whitaker, the duo were faced with treacherous conditions after heavy rainfall made the stages extremely slippery. A wrong time on the opening stage did no favours for Bilham’s title ambitions and he found himself down in 13th in class after the opening test. With the championship points allocated based on class positions, it was looking a tall order for Bilham to clinch the title in the mud soaked final round.
However, Bilham soon settled into the conditions and as the stages passed he began to climb the leader board. By the fourth stage he had fought his way back to seventh but with no time to work out the points situation, Bilham could not afford to back off. A final loop charge saw him move into fifth place as he crossed the finish ramp to take the prestigious title.
“It’s been a challenging year in the Fiesta ST Trophy after being so close to winning that this season, but becoming the MSA English Rally Champion is a real achievement for me and I`m overjoyed to have won” commented Bilham. “We started the year with the plan to build the pace whilst learning the car but it soon became apparent we were in the running for the English Championship as well so we came to the Malton Rally to see if we could do it. I think this will take a while to sink in, it’s been a long year!”
Bilham cites this victory as one of his finest. “It’s a real honour to have an MSA titled championship to my name and I’ve worked so hard for it this season. It’s a class based points system so it’s a tough championship to win and taking it by only two points really bring it home how close it was. I must say a huge thank you to the team who have been excellent and very patient with me throughout the year and of course to all my sponsors who helped make this possible.”
Bingley rally star Sam Bilham will attempt to win the hotly contested MSA English Rally Championship this weekend as he heads to the MEM Malton Forest Rally on Saturday 6th November.
Having taken the runner up spot in the ultra-competitive Fiesta ST Trophy this season, Bilham will return to the driver’s seat for the final time this year, heading back into the Yorkshire forests to fight for the prestigious title. The Reis Motorsport Insurance supported ace will start the event in the lead of the English Championship, but a slender three point advantage over his nearest rival means the title will most certainly be a close fought affair.
The event takes place within the Dalby Forest complex, the scene of Bilham’s inaugural Fiesta ST Trophy victory just a few weeks previously on the Trackrod Rally. With co-driver James Whitaker returning to the passenger seat, the duo are confident of a bagging a decent result in their Fiesta ST.
“Taking my first series win this season at the Trackrod was a fantastic experience, especially as it’s my home event” says Bilham.
“Whilst it didn’t net me the Fiesta Trophy title, it enabled me to climb to the top of the MSA English Rally Championship leader board. Thanks to my one hundred per cent finishing record this year, the points have been mounting up and I am now in a really strong positon to clinch the title which would be a fantastic achievement”.
The 19 year old Bingley resident is aware however, that there are around five drivers that could potentially take the honours at the weekend.
“It’s a really close at the top the standings and I need to have a clean run to be in with a chance of taking the points needed to bag the title. I’m pleased with the way my speed has increased this year as I continue to learn left hand drive and the Fiesta which was new at the beginning of the season. It’s now time to put all that experience into practise; I don’t want to be runner up again in 2016.”
The MEM Malton Forest Rally offers around 40 miles of competitive action across six stages in the Staindale and Langdale forests within in the Dalby complex.