Ingram in at Speedworks for BTCC 2014
Tom Ingram will make his Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship debut this year after signing for Speedworks Motorsport, and the High Wycombe ace is targeting some ‘giant-killing’ performances behind the wheel of the team’s Toyota Avensis.
Ingram dominated proceedings in the BTCC-supporting Ginetta GT Supercup in 2013 to clinch his third car racing crown in four seasons – leaving him primed to make the step up. He admits that after an uncertain winter, he is elated to have secured his spot on the starting grid.
“I think it’s just about sunk in now!” confessed the BRDC Rising Star and MSA Academy member. “I’m hugely excited. To finally join the BTCC really is a dream come true for me – when I started out in karting more than 12 years ago, not for one second did I ever believe we would make it this far.
“It’s been a long winter trying to put everything together. We had sponsorship leads that looked promising only to then fall through and there were times when I genuinely didn’t think it was going to happen, which was heart-breaking, to be truthful.
“Deadlines were getting closer and closer and not much headway was being made, but I’ve never given up on anything in my career before, and I wasn’t about to start now! Thankfully, I have two loyal sponsors in particular – SKYCIG and Hansford Sensors – who have stuck by me throughout, and their enduring support has been absolutely key. Both are fantastic companies to be associated with and it really is the perfect relationship; they see the benefits of the partnership and they enjoy coming along to the race meetings, too.”
In joining forces with Speedworks, Ingram will be entering the fray in a season that sees a staggering seven former champions on a huge BTCC starting grid. The 20-year-old will be pitching himself directly against the likes of Fabrizio Giovanardi, Alain Menu, Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden, Jason Plato, Colin Turkington and defending title-holder Andrew Jordan.
“I’ll be racing doorhandle-to-doorhandle with drivers I grew up watching on TV – heroes of mine,” he continued. “There are some massive names in the championship, and that certainly won’t make for an easy year – but what a year it’s going to be! There will be plenty of action all the way up and down the order.
“It will be a tremendous challenge and we need to remain realistic – it’s shaping up to be the toughest season in BTCC history, I’ll be up against a lot of seriously accomplished rivals and it will be my first year in a front-wheel-drive car. Looking at the calibre of the field, simply getting into the points will be an achievement all in itself, but I’m determined to do the best job I possibly can and I’d love to think that by mid-season, we can be targeting some decent finishes.
“I’ve got a great team behind me in Speedworks. I went up to the factory last week and they seem like a really good bunch of guys, clearly very skilled and experienced and just as importantly, extremely passionate about what they do. There’s a real family atmosphere and they actually remind me a lot of JHR Developments, with whom I won the Ginetta GT Supercup last year.
“The Avensis was the first NGTC machine to be designed, acting as a prototype when the new regulations were first tested back in 2010. A lot of development has taken place since then, and it’s now a very strong car – I really can’t wait to get my hands on it at Silverstone this Friday. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much beforehand due to sheer excitement!
“The bottom line is that it’s up to me to make the most of this fantastic opportunity. I’ve said all along that I don’t merely want to be on the grid – I want to make a really positive impression and forge a professional career for myself in the BTCC. 2014 is the first step on that ladder, and hopefully we can pull off a few giant-killing exploits along the way…”
Ingram was undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with in the Ginetta championship, tallying no fewer than 17 race victories, 39 podium finishes, nine pole positions and 21 fastest laps in 2012 and 2013. Hughes-backed Speedworks has established itself as a solid top ten championship contender and regular points-scorer in the BTCC, and team principal Christian Dick is confident that his new driver is the perfect fit for his outfit’s ambitions.
“Tom has stood out as one of the brightest young talents rising up through the ranks for a few years now,” he affirmed. “He’s won the title in every car racing championship he’s entered, and off the track, he is extremely professional and always presents himself very well. All of us at Speedworks are incredibly proud and excited to have him on-board, and we will give him as much assistance as we can and everything he needs to feel relaxed and comfortable inside the car and get up to speed as quickly as possible.
“We ended last season with quite a good package, so hopefully we can really hit the ground running straightaway in the first round of 2014 at Brands Hatch. Obviously with the sheer number of high-quality drivers on the grid, it’s not going to be an easy season for anybody, but we are adopting a sensible approach and won’t be putting Tom under any pressure to go out there and deliver immediate results. We are looking forward with justifiable optimism, and confident in the knowledge that it’s truly a fantastic time to be a part of the BTCC.”