- Bucks-born ace heading to Thruxton buoyed by Donington Park success
- New Toyota Corolla featured well up the timesheets at ‘positive’ pre-event test
- Hampshire circuit is fastest in country and pushes driver and car to the limit
Tom Ingram and Team Toyota GB with Ginsters are approaching the upcoming British Touring Car Championship race weekend at Thruxton (18/19 May) in confident mood, following a ‘positive and productive’ pre-event test and a hugely popular maiden win for the new Toyota Corolla at Donington Park last time out.
That breakthrough triumph – Ingram and Northwich, Cheshire-based Speedworks Motorsport’s tenth outright success in the UK’s premier motor racing series – could scarcely have been scripted any better. In front of some 4,500 members and families from Toyota Manufacturing UK – with Donington situated just down the road from the TMUK plant at Burnaston – the 25-year-old Bucks-born ace led from lights-to-flag as he effortlessly converted the reversed grid pole position into a commanding victory.
Allied to fifth and tenth-place finishes from earlier in the day, the result catapulted Ingram from tenth up to sixth in the Drivers’ title chase amongst the 30 high-calibre contenders, just 12 points shy of the summit of the standings. Team Toyota GB with Ginsters similarly gained ground to eighth in the Teams’ classification.
Reigning two-time BTCC Independents’ Champion Ingram boasts an excellent record at Thruxton – the high-speed Hampshire circuit was the scene of his first podium finish in car racing in 2009 and first win a year later, and he has three rostrum appearances to his name there in the BTCC. He lapped third-quickest in the morning session of the official TOCA test day at the track last month before the squad switched its focus to set-up work in the afternoon, leaving team and driver alike ‘quietly confident’ of another strong weekend.
All of the Thruxton race day action will be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV4, starting at 11:15am on Sunday (19 May).
Christian Dick, Team Principal, Team Toyota GB with Ginsters, said:
“Winning at Donington did relieve the early-season pressure a little. We’ve always known we’ve got a quick car, we’ve always known Tom’s a first-class driver and we’ve always known we’ve got an excellent team here at Speedworks, but until you cross the finish line and take the chequered flag, the job’s not done. To secure the Corolla’s first victory on Toyota (GB)’s home turf in front of so many people from TMUK was the icing on the cake.
“We’re learning each time we take to the track with this car, and understanding it better with every day. Thruxton is a pretty unique challenge on the BTCC calendar, with a very different set of demands to any other circuit we visit, but the Corolla is phenomenal on the brakes, which will help going into the Complex and Chicane and it has a really nicely-balanced chassis, which is confidence-inspiring for Tom to drive – and the one thing you need above all else to be fast around Thruxton is confidence.
“The test last month was positive and productive, which gave us a good direction to pursue and I think we have a solid foundation now for the race weekend. Tom’s right up there in the championship hunt, and when you see how close the top seven drivers are on points, you appreciate how important consistency is in this series. It’s all about staying up at the sharp end and scoring in as many races as possible – and that’s precisely what we will aim to do.”
Tom Ingram, Driver, Team Toyota GB with Ginsters, said:
“Thruxton is a unique circuit – there’s nowhere else like it in the country. Going there for the test with a new car was a bit of a step into the unknown, but it went very well, which was encouraging. We were able to work through everything on our list – most of all, it was about trying to get a proper handle on the Corolla through the high-speed sections, which is the key to a good lap time there and I think we’re in a good place.
“With the BTCC going to Thruxton twice this year, it’s even more important to get to grips with everything quickly because there are double the points on offer, but we left feeling quietly confident and will return in the same mindset.
“Thruxton’s high-speed nature and succession of quick corners results in high tyre degradation, and the slower sections towards the start and end of the lap make it tricky to strike the optimum set-up, but there’s no question that it’s an incredible challenge from a driver’s perspective. You always tighten your belts a bit before you get to Noble, Goodwood and Church, which are three of the fastest corners in British motorsport. You’re properly hanging on through there – real edge-of-the-seat stuff.
“I’m feeling excited, and the target for the weekend has to be three good, solid points-scoring finishes. We’re close to the top of the table points-wise but not carrying too much ballast, which is a nice position to be in – we’ve learned over the past couple of seasons that leading the championship at this stage can make your life very difficult in qualifying and race one.
“We still have a lot of development to come with the Corolla, and as we have always said, we expect to be much stronger over the second half of the year. To win so early on was really a bonus, but we’re not getting carried away as we are well aware that there remains a big challenge ahead.”