Ingram forced to fight for points finishes on bruising Hampshire weekend
Tom Ingram added another hat-trick of points-scoring finishes to his 2019 tally as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship sped into the UK’s fastest circuit, Thruxton, last weekend (17/18 August), although a rough-and-tumble final race prevented the Team Toyota GB with Ginsters star from exploiting his and the Toyota Corolla’s full potential.
After featuring well inside the top ten in both free practice sessions in Hampshire – going quickest of all through the middle sector of the lap in FP1 – Ingram went on to qualify eighth amongst the 30 high-calibre contenders in the UK’s premier motor racing series. The Bucks-born ace was, however, left to rue a ‘moment’ at Church – the fastest corner in the country – that likely deprived him of a top five grid slot for race one.
A mistake at the Complex on the first lap of the curtain-raiser cost Ingram ground but he immediately fought back, and he was zeroing in on the scrap ahead for seventh until he found himself shuffled down to 11th in the closing stages.
Ingram spent the majority of the second race embroiled in a multi-car tussle for third, keeping company with the likes of Colin Turkington, Matt Neal, Andrew Jordan and Ashley Sutton – BTCC champions all. After dispatching Sutton and race one winner Sam Tordoff in swift succession, he went on to take the chequered flag eighth.
Race three got underway beneath menacing skies, and in front of the live ITV4 television cameras and an appreciative trackside audience, the Team Toyota GB with Ginsters man was the architect of a superbly assertive opening lap to pass both Turkington and Jordan and climb to seventh.
A dramatic duel with Sutton followed – encompassing countless side-by-side skirmishes and no shortage of contact – but the 25-year-old boldly held his nerve. His determination eventually paid off as – headlights ablaze – he grittily found a way past his race-long nemesis on the very last lap, notwithstanding intensifying rain that injected an extra challenge into what was already an extremely physical and demanding contest. A better fastest lap than any of the top four finishers went to show what might have been.
The trio of results nonetheless kept Ingram firmly inside the top ten in the Drivers’ standings in eighth place heading next to Knockhill in Scotland on 14/15 September. Team Toyota GB with Ginsters will travel north of the border occupying ninth spot in the Teams’ table.
“The results may not necessarily reflect it, but the Corolla definitely felt better than it did at Thruxton earlier in the year,” said Ingram. “It was just what I would call a very ‘vanilla’ weekend and we slipped under the radar a bit – not scene-stealing like Snetterton, but there-or-thereabouts throughout. There’s clearly still room for improvement, but equally, you can never read too much into people’s form at Thruxton because it’s such a niche circuit.
“We underperformed in qualifying, and that one was completely on me. I just dropped a wheel slightly off at Church – not the kind of place you want to be making a mistake – and filled the radiator up with grass. That left us slightly out-of-position on the grid, although we didn’t really have the pace in race one to do anything special anyway – we seemed to lose something from Saturday to Sunday that we still need to evaluate and get to the bottom of.
“The car was sliding around quite a lot and I was really having to hang on through Church, but we got our heads down, worked hard and consistently improved it over the course of the day. We struggled for grip again early on in race two which resulted in a couple of big ‘moments’, but the Corolla came on stronger over the second half and that allowed me to pull off a few enjoyable moves – although it wasn’t until race three that we got it properly where we wanted it to be.
“That’s racing sometimes – we’ll come back fighting at Knockhill.”