Bucks-born ace unleashes his wet-weather skills for pair of top six finishes
Speedworks Motorsport-engineered Corolla shines through the spray in Cheshire
Team Principal Christian Dick confident big results are just around the corner
Tom Ingram showcased his fighting spirit in the British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park last weekend (22/23 August), as the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters star scythed through the field to a brace of top six finishes in treacherous conditions.
Ingram was on the pace from the outset around the undulating Cheshire circuit – at which he has always excelled – and he looked poised to convert that potential in qualifying as he vaulted straight to the top of the timesheets amongst the 27 high-calibre contenders on his first flying lap, but drama lay in wait.
Remaining firmly up at the sharp end of proceedings, the Bucks-born ace was building momentum midway through when his Corolla was sideswiped by another car – whose driver seemingly didn’t see the Toyota looming ever-larger in his mirrors – sending him diving immediately for the pits.
At their home event, the Speedworks Motorsport mechanics worked tirelessly to get the car out again before the end of the session, but the damage could not be fully repaired in the short timeframe available. Consequently unable to reprise his sparkling earlier form, Ingram tumbled helplessly down to 14th in the final reckoning – when he was confident he should have been on one of the leading two rows of the grid.
Making light of the 42kg of championship success ballast on-board the Toyota in race one, the 27-year-old produced a characteristically ballsy drive in front of the live ITV4 television cameras. After battling his way into the top ten by the start of the second lap, he went on to get the better of former champion Ash Sutton in an energetic duel in heavy rain, while exhibiting his sublime car control to survive a tag from behind that sent him briefly sideways exiting Lodge Corner.
With visibility at a premium, Ingram continued to move forward as he ably demonstrated both his and the Corolla’s wet-weather prowess. Earning himself a bonus point by posting the fastest lap of the race – his second of the season – sixth position marked an impressive eight-place gain on his grid slot.
He was in similarly feisty mood in race two as he pulled off a brilliant pass on Tom Chilton all the way around the outside of Cascades, giving him the inside line for Island Bend, before chasing down and outfoxing Jake Hill for fifth. Four seconds behind the podium battle with the same number of laps remaining, the two-time BTCC Independents’ Champion went on a charge and in a stellar effort, he reduced the deficit to Dan Cammish ahead to less than 0.4s at the chequered flag.
Unfortunately, that was where his weekend ended. In race three at Brands Hatch a fortnight ago, Ingram didn’t progress beyond the opening lap after being collected in somebody else’s accident. This time, he didn’t even get that far, as a driveshaft failure sidelined him before the starting lights went out. Having been forced out of contention while occupying a strong position in the finale at Oulton twice before, the Toyota man’s misfortune at the track returned to haunt him once again.
Happily, Ingram has an immediate opportunity to bounce back as Britain’s premier motor racing series heads north of the border this coming weekend (29/30 August) to Knockhill, where three years ago, he sped to a dominant victory. He will return sitting sixth in the Drivers’ standings, with Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters seventh in the Teams’ table.
Christian Dick, Team Principal, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters, said:
“There’s no question that what happened in qualifying cost us a much bigger points haul at Oulton. Tom was up on his previous best lap at the time and flashing his lights to indicate that he was on a flyer, but the other driver seemed to be completely oblivious to his presence and simply turned in as if he wasn’t there, which destroyed the rest of our session. While everybody else was improving after that, we were robbed of the opportunity to do the same.
“That was obviously immensely frustrating, but Tom drove brilliantly in races one and two – both of them real fighting performances – and the Corolla was absolutely flying. Everything was working in harmony, his racecraft was superb and the Toyota looked really pointy, and fastest lap in the opener proved what might have been had we started up at the front as we should have done. It was such a massive shame that the incident in qualifying prevented us from fully capitalising on the pace we had in the car.
“Race three could – and should – have been another really strong result, and we were confident of moving forward from sixth on the grid. We suspect that the failure was a hangover from the contact in qualifying – I genuinely can’t remember the last time we had a driveshaft let go, and it was on the same side as the impact so it just seems to be too much of a coincidence.
“That was clearly a disappointing way to end the weekend, but on the positive side, I must give a shout-out to the entire Speedworks crew, who did a phenomenal job to provide Tom with such a competitive car throughout. With the mixed conditions on Sunday, they had to make some pretty big set-up changes between the races in very tight timeframes and they worked with maximum commitment and professionalism. They didn’t leave Oulton with the result they deserved, but it’s coming…”
Tom Ingram, Driver, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters, said:
“A weekend of ‘what might have been’, all-in-all, but also a lot of reasons for encouragement. We’ve seen in the past how qualifying can condition your whole race day at Oulton Park, and being tripped up by another driver significantly compromised our chances. The Corolla felt awesome before the incident, but despite the Speedworks guys’ incredible efforts, there simply wasn’t enough time to properly repair the damage before the end of the session.
“That left us starting right in the danger zone in race one, but I was fired-up to move forwards and we did just that. Due to its narrow nature, it’s never easy to overtake at Oulton at the best of times, and it’s even more difficult in the rain so it was really satisfying to make up as much ground as we did. I particularly enjoyed the little scrap with Ash [Sutton] – it went on for several laps and was a proper on-the-edge, no-holds-barred battle!
“I was able to pull off some more really strong moves in race two – the Corolla was on rails – and despite running out of laps to challenge for the podium in the end, we clearly proved the potential in the car again. Then race three was obviously a non-event, which was a bitter pill to swallow, but we just have to take it on the chin and move on.
“It’s fair to say that Oulton didn’t deliver the results we were hoping for in the end, but it’s Knockhill next, which is somewhere we’ve always gone well. It may be regarded as another rear wheel-drive track, but I’m feeling punchy, I’m up for the fight – and we’re heading there all guns blazing!”
Date of Birth: 20 August, 1993 Hometown: High Wycombe, Bucks