Thruxton yields another points-scoring hat-trick for Ingram
Tom Ingram kept himself firmly in contention for the biggest prize in UK motorsport with a strong performance at Thruxton, as he piloted his Team Toyota GB with Ginsters Corolla to a third consecutive points-scoring hat-trick this season.
The reigning two-time BTCC Independent Champion’s task was not assisted by damp conditions that all-but wrote off the first free practice session. With 24kg of success ballast on-board – the first time this season that the Corolla had carried any significant weight into qualifying – he went on to line up 15th on the grid, just over three tenths-of-a-second adrift of the top six after falling foul of track limits.
“There was very little point in going out in those conditions, so we just scrubbed some tyres in and prepared for qualifying,” said Ingram. “Our grid slot wasn’t truly representative of our speed, but we knew we could make up ground on race day”
Ingram pulled off a number of bold overtaking manoeuvres in the opener to flash past the chequered flag in 12th place for a clutch of valuable championship points. He maintained that forward momentum in race two as he fought through to finish eighth, posting a best lap time comparable with that of the winner, but from fourth on the reversed grid for the finale, he found himself delayed by a first lap incident.
As spots of rain made for a greasy track surface, Rob Collard spun across the Toyota entering the Complex, obliging Ingram to jink swiftly out of his slipstream in avoidance and sending him bouncing across the grass and down to seventh.
Following a short safety car intervention, Ingram immediately went back on the attack, revelling in the low-grip scenario – dispatching defending champion Colin Turkington by squeezing his Speedworks Motorsport-run Corolla up the inside into Segrave.
Ingram thereafter applied pressure on three-time title-winner Matt Neal all the way to the flag to cap his weekend with a fine fifth-place finish.
The Toyota driver has scored points in every race so far this season – one of only two drivers to do so – as he sits sixth in the overall Drivers’ standings, just 21 points shy of the summit heading next to Croft in North Yorkshire on 15/16 June. Team Toyota GB with Ginsters, meanwhile, is seventh in the Teams’ table.
“Overall, I’d classify that as a very solid weekend,” said Ingram. Thruxton is such a niche circuit – there’s nowhere else like it in the UK – so we didn’t really know how things would play out, and the weather in free practice didn’t help in terms of gathering information.
“In races one and two, I just tried to stay out of trouble and pick up places where I could, but in race three, Collard’s spin cost me a lot of momentum and positions. On the plus side, the Corolla felt the best it had all weekend, which enabled us to fight back to finish a strong fifth and we were competitive against all the other front-runners.
“The main aim of the weekend was to put some more solid points on the board and come away with ideas of where to improve for August, and we successfully ticked both of those boxes. It’s all about playing the long game in the BTCC, and now that we’re moving on to some circuits that will hopefully suit us a little bit better, we’re fully focussed on closing that gap.”
Christian Dick, Team Principal, Team Toyota GB with Ginsters, added: “We made steady improvements throughout the weekend and came away with another good, solid points haul. Thruxton is so unique as a circuit and comes with very specific demands, and being such a new car, we’re still getting to grips with the Corolla. I’m confident we will have a much better handle on everything and will consequently be a lot stronger.
“With the quality of the field in the BTCC this year, it’s difficult to make a lot of progress, but we gained ground every time and once he was able to settle into a rhythm in race three, Tom’s pace was really encouraging – as quick as anybody else out there over the race distance. That gives us plenty to build upon moving forward.”