Ingram and Speedworks climb championship table with fourth rostrum of 2016
Plucky Independent outfit back on the podium at Croft
BRDC Rising Star Ingram excels come rain and shine
Team and driver both gain ground in title standings
Motorsport concluded a tremendously impressive opening half to the 2016
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in fine style at Croft, as
Tom Ingram mastered wet and dry conditions alike to deliver the team its
fourth podium finish from five race weekends.
A self-confessed fan of the challenging North Yorkshire circuit, Ingram
featured up at the sharp end from the outset in Speedworks’ front
wheel-drive Toyota Avensis. He missed out on topping the timesheets by a
scant 0.009 seconds in free practice as he lapped fourth and
second-fastest amongst the 32 high-calibre contenders – some of the very
best touring car protagonists on the planet.
The talented young Bucks ace reprised that front-running role in
qualifying, lying third when the red flags flew for an accident midway
through – a particularly eye-catching performance given that Croft is a
track that predominantly favours rear wheel-drive machinery.
When the session resumed, however, Ingram picked up a tyre vibration
that left him unable to improve, sending him slipping down the order to a
disappointed 12th. To put Speedworks’ sparkling current form
into perspective, that marked the first time all season that the squad
had failed to snare a top five grid slot in the immensely popular,
all-action BTCC – commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most
fiercely-disputed tin-top series.
In front of the live ITV4 television cameras, the 22-year-old British
Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star navigated carefully through the
traditional Turn One mêlée in the curtain-raiser to settle into a
four-way scrap over eighth. In a safety car-punctuated encounter, he
battled grittily past Adam Morgan and championship leader Sam Tordoff
before hassling Mat Jackson right the way to the chequered flag,
flashing across the finish line in ninth position.
The third-quickest lap time – behind only the all-conquering Subarus –
underscored his raw pace and went to show what might have been but for
his qualifying frustrations, and in race two, Ingram continued to move
forwards, gaining ground at the start and subsequently pulling off a
peach of a move on 2013 champion Andrew Jordan at Tower Bend to advance
The KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member again pushed Jackson hard
before finding his position under threat from a flying Tordoff, who was
scything through the field in his ballast-free, rear wheel-drive BMW.
To his immense credit, Ingram did not yield to the pressure and
valiantly fended his adversary off to secure a front row start for the
reversed grid finale.
By that stage, the sunny skies had made way for rain, prompting
Speedworks to bolt wet-weather rubber onto Ingram’s Avensis. It proved
to be the correct call, and with grip at a premium on the greasy and
slippery track surface, a strong getaway saw the three-time Ginetta
Champion and former British Karting Champion maintain second place when
the lights went out.
Struggling slightly for traction, he was overtaken by eventual winner
Ashley Sutton midway through but thereafter maturely withstood a
concerted attack from rapid rear wheel-drive duo Colin Turkington and
Rob Collard, evincing some superb defensive racecraft to secure his
fourth podium and fifth Independent victory of the campaign – more than
any of his rivals.
That vaulted Ingram from tenth up to sixth in the overall Drivers’
standings – just eight points adrift of the top four – and from fourth
to second in the Independents’ Trophy. Speedworks remain seventh in the
Teams’ classification and have gained a spot to second in the
Independent Teams’ Trophy.
“I’m very pleased with that weekend,” acknowledged the Northwich,
Cheshire-based outfit’s Team Principal Christian Dick. “We didn’t manage
to fulfil our potential in qualifying, which left us significantly
further down the grid than we should have been but we fought back well
and were consistently fast throughout race day, which was reflected in
“Tom drove brilliantly and didn’t put a foot wrong. He received some
criticism earlier in the year from people saying he couldn’t string a
whole race meeting together, but that’s two on the bounce now where
we’ve come away with a mega points haul – and this time from a much
lower starting position.
“All of the Speedworks lads have done a first-class job with the Avensis
and it was competitive in all conditions. That allowed us to make
progress in each championship table and with four podium finishes and
five Independent wins from the opening half of the season, I think we
can be very satisfied indeed.”
“Coming off the back of a big points-scoring weekend at Oulton Park, our
objective for Croft was more of the same,” concurred Ingram. “We knew
it wouldn’t be easy as Croft is renowned for favouring rear wheel-drive
cars, but three strong results were clearly the aim and that’s exactly
what we achieved.
“It’s a circuit I’ve always loved driving, and our pace in practice was
really encouraging – we didn’t expect to be as far up as we were on old
rubber in FP1. That left us feeling optimistic for qualifying and until
the red flag, things were looking good but then obviously it all went a
bit awry. Still, the car was inherently quick, so once the issue was
resolved, we knew we would be able to work our way through the pack.
“We did that in races one and two to bag a couple of very solid results,
as the Avensis performed well on both slick tyre compounds. That was
the key to putting us in with a shout in the reversed grid contest, by
which time the weather had changed completely. I enjoy the challenge of
those conditions, although we didn’t quite have the outright pace and I
was mindful of not wanting to throw it off the road.
“We had to soak up quite a bit of pressure from behind, and I was very
happy to leave with another podium. That was a great way to finish the
weekend, and it helped us to move a fair distance up the standings which
gives us a lot of confidence and momentum heading into the summer