Tom Ingram has one goal on his mind ahead of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – building upon the impressive progress he and Speedworks Motorsport made last year to clinch the most coveted crown in national racing.
Ingram and Speedworks came out-of-the-blocks flying at the start of 2017, with Tom tallying eight top five finishes from the opening nine rounds. In only his fourth campaign in what is commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series, Ingram looked set to truly take on the sport’s biggest-hitters, but a luckless mid-season run would conspire to derail his charge. Undeterred, he came back fighting over the second half to lift the Independents’ Trophy, with Speedworks similarly doing the business in the Independent Teams’ tussle as the plucky Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit sealed its breakthrough BTCC success in fine style.
Placing a superb third amongst the 37 high-calibre contenders in the final Drivers’ table, ahead of defending champion Gordon Shedden and three fellow former title-holders, the KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member led more laps than any of his adversaries, posted the best average qualifying record of anybody in the field for the second year running and reached the podium on nine occasions – four times the top step.
In recognition of his outstanding performance behind the wheel of Speedworks’ #80 Toyota Avensis, Ingram was voted the series’ best driver of 2017 by team bosses in a poll held by leading specialist publication Motorsport News. Now, he wants to live up to that billing by challenging for British motorsport’s most prestigious prize – the BTCC Drivers’ crown.
“After what we accomplished last year, there can only be one objective for 2018 – the overall title,” asserted the three-time Ginetta Champion and erstwhile British Karting Champion. “There was never any question that we would be staying with Speedworks this year. They’re like my second family. The dynamic between us works so well – it has since day one, and it’s getting stronger all the time.
“I must pay tribute, too, to the vital ongoing support of our loyal partner Hansford Sensors, without whom none of this would have been possible. We’re also incredibly lucky to have the backing of key returning sponsors the Logistics People, Total Rail Solutions, Reis Motorsport Insurance and Global Brands, who similarly play a major role in getting us on-track. I owe a massive ‘thank you’ to each and every one of them.
“2017 was a real watershed campaign for Speedworks,” echoed Team Principal Christian Dick. “To make the leap from occasional podium-finisher and race-winner to genuine title contender marked a significant step forward, and the key to that was consistency. We scored points in more than 80 per cent of the races, and but for two torrid weekends at Oulton Park and Croft – through little fault of his own – Tom would have been right up there in the mix for the outright championship come season’s end.
“We proved what the Toyota is capable of last season, and considering the updates we have planned, we expect it to be even more of a potent proposition this year. With the renowned strength-in-depth of the BTCC, we’re under no illusions that a massive dogfight lies ahead – but we’re ready to come out punching.”