Speedworks target solid points haul as BTCC heads for Donington Park
Speedworks Motorsport is eager to build upon its stellar start to the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park this weekend (15/16 April), albeit mindful that with 66kg of success ballast on-board in Leicestershire, it may initially face something of an uphill struggle.
Currently contesting its seventh campaign in the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised, all-action BTCC – commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series – plucky Independent outfit Speedworks came out-of-the-blocks firing on all cylinders at Brands Hatch Indy a week-and-a-half ago, as Tom Ingram replicated his curtain-raising victory from 12 months earlier before adding to that triumph with a hard-fought podium finish in race two.
The talented young Bucks ace’s sensational showing in Kent sees him approach Donington sitting a superb second in both the overall Drivers’ and Independents’ Trophy standings, with Speedworks third in the Teams’ table and second in the Independent Teams’ classification.
The BTCC regulations stipulate that with success, however, must come success ballast, and 23-year-old Ingram will consequently tackle both qualifying and race one at Donington behind the wheel of a Toyota Avensis weighing in a hefty 66kg heavier than usual.
Not only that, but given that the top 28 drivers in the high-calibre BTCC field – composed of 32 of the finest touring car protagonists on the planet – were blanketed by less than a second in practice at Brands Hatch, any handicap is likely to be magnified.
With that in mind, Speedworks Team Principal Christian Dick is keeping his expectations in-check for the early stages of the weekend – albeit remaining hopeful that as the weight comes off, three-time Ginetta Champion and former British Karting Champion Ingram will be able once more to give full rein to both his and the Avensis’ palpable potential.
“It was obviously fantastic to start the season in such emphatic fashion at Brands Hatch, and to be the fastest in the field in the only race in which everybody is on zero ballast – for the second year running – proves that our trusty Toyota is inherently a very quick car indeed,” Dick reflected.
“We similarly showed that by topping the timesheets in the official pre-season BTCC test at Donington last month, but we are under no illusions that we will be in for a much tougher challenge this weekend – particularly in qualifying and race one.
“The BTCC is so ultra-competitive right now, and that level of weight will probably cost a few tenths per lap around Donington – possibly more over a race distance. You only have to look at last year when [eventual champion] Gordon Shedden was unable to stay inside the top ten on 66kg, so we’re certainly going to have a fight on our hands. That said, it’s a battle we’re relishing – and with our sights focussed firmly on the bigger picture, hopefully it will be a case of short-term pain for long-term gain.”