TOYOTA GAZOO RACING UK WITH GINSTERS FIRED-UP TO FIGHT BACK NORTH OF THE BORDER
Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters is Scotland-bound this weekend (29/30 August), as Tom Ingram aims to bounce back immediately from his Oulton Park disappointment in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with a full-commitment, ‘elbows-out’ performance at Knockhill.
Contact from another driver in qualifying derailed Ingram’s challenge in Cheshire last weekend, meaning that instead of pushing for the podium – as fastest lap in race one proved he had the pace to do – the two-time BTCC Independents’ Champion found himself having to fight his way doggedly through the field to secure a brace of top-six finishes.
Driveshaft failure – a potential legacy of the qualifying damage – then ruled him out of race three altogether, denying him the opportunity to add to his points tally and dropping him from fourth to sixth in the overall standings amongst the 27 high-calibre contenders. All eyes, however, are now solidly focussed forward, with a determination to reduce the deficit to the top of the table at a track where Ingram has invariably shone.
A hard-earned double victory north of the border in the Ginetta Junior Championship in 2010 set the Bucks-born ace firmly on-course for his maiden car racing crown before he added five further rostrums at Knockhill – including a third career triumph at the circuit – to his burgeoning CV in the Ginetta GT Supercup.
In the BTCC, Ingram has taken the chequered flag inside the points in Fife on no fewer than 13 occasions, with a commanding drive in 2017 yielding a thoroughly well-deserved race win. Last year, the 27-year-old piloted his Speedworks Motorsport-engineered Toyota Corolla to a trio of top-eight results on its first appearance at the track, and the expectation is for an even stronger showing 12 months on.
All of the doorhandle-to-doorhandle action will be broadcast live on ITV2 on Sunday (30 August), from 1040 – and as he aims to reignite his title bid in the UK’s premier motor racing series, Ingram is hoping Knockhill’s famous rollercoaster-style lap delivers far more highs than lows.
“I felt pretty downcast leaving Oulton Park,” reflected Ingram. “We should have qualified inside the top four, which would have completely altered our weekend as we definitely had the pace to fight for the podium in the races. Looking on the positive side, though, Oulton wasn’t the best circuit for us last year, so to be as fast as we were clearly demonstrated the progress we have made with the Toyota since then and as disappointing as the outcome ultimately was, we immediately resolved to file it as a distant memory and focus on fighting back.
“I’m really fired-up for Knockhill, and we know we’re in a much better place with the car than we were last summer. The Corolla already felt stronger in our pre-season test at the track than it did there last year, so I’m feeling confident. Yes, we’ve had a couple of non-scores from the opening nine races which obviously isn’t ideal, but this is a long way from over yet.
“We’ve seen so far in 2020 how important qualifying is, and whilst it isn’t quite as difficult to overtake at Knockhill as at Oulton, it still isn’t easy. It’s a real rollercoaster ride of a lap, and it’s a challenge to get the car optimised for the mix of high-speed bumps and low-speed hairpins. Wet or dry, the racing is normally really close and exciting, so I’m sure it’s going to be another elbows-out weekend. Bring it on!”
“When you experience misfortune, it’s very important to keep things in perspective,” added Team Principal Christian Dick. “Leaving Oulton last year, we had all but given up on the championship but when we got to the final weekend, we were still in mathematical contention. Bad luck always seems to even itself out over the course of the campaign and whilst we’re currently on the back foot slightly, there’s everything to play for so now is the time to really dig deep and come out fighting.
“For the first time ever, we included Knockhill in our pre-season testing schedule this year, and it was a really encouraging day. The Corolla was already quick at the track 12 months ago, and we know that Tom is exceptional round there. We will arrive slightly lighter in terms of ballast, which should help in qualifying and race one, so our tails are definitely up.
“There’s such steadfast belief and positivity inside this team because we know we’ve got a fast car with a fast driver behind the wheel and we have the best crew in the BTCC paddock working in the garage. There’s a long way to go yet, and I promise we will all be pushing harder than ever to close the gap and climb back up the leaderboard this weekend.”