INGRAM PROMISES ‘MAXIMUM ATTACK’ AS BTCC HEADS NORTH
Tom Ingram has vowed to adopt ‘an aggressive strategy’ when the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship resumes at Croft in just less than a week’s time (10/11 October), as the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters star bids to reignite his title charge on a milestone weekend.
Little over a week ago, Ingram was less than a handful of laps from the chequered flag at Silverstone when a late-race puncture cruelly denied him a third victory in five starts – a result that would have propelled him to within touching distance of the summit of the standings in the UK’s premier motor racing series.
As it is, the two-time BTCC Independents’ Champion will travel to Croft sitting fourth in the chase for the coveted crown amongst the 30 high-calibre protagonists, 42 points adrift of the top of the table – but still very much in contention. Not only is he arguably the series’ in-form driver right now, but Ingram also has a strong track record around the North Yorkshire circuit, with three podiums and 12 top ten finishes from 18 previous races there – not to mention multiple wins in TOCA support championships.
What’s more, the 27-year-old Bucks-born ace is set to make his 200th BTCC start next weekend, and he is aiming to celebrate that landmark with a third triumph of the campaign behind the wheel of his Speedworks Motorsport-prepared Toyota Corolla – a car that has been going from strength-to-strength in recent weeks.
All of the doorhandle-to-doorhandle action will be broadcast live on ITV4 on Sunday, 11 October, beginning at 1130.
“Croft has always been regarded as a rear-wheel drive track,” said Team Principal Christian Dick, “but the gap to the front-wheel drive guys like ourselves has definitely been closing and the recent resurfacing seemed to narrow it even further. It’s also somewhere we’ve tended to perform well – in our final season with the Avensis in 2018, we led the FWD charge at Croft, so we know what it takes to make a car tick round there.
“Its date on the calendar last year meant the race weekend came quite early on in the Corolla’s life cycle and we didn’t quite have it dialled-in where we wanted it to be, but the car is right on the money at the moment and seems to work well everywhere, and Tom is in a real sweet spot with it. We’re excited every time we go to a race circuit now. Croft’s diverse characteristics should play to the Corolla’s strengths, and irrespective of weight or weather conditions, I’m confident we will be in a strong position again.
“Qualifying will as ever be an important element of the weekend – even more so as we approach the business end of the season – but we’ve turned a bit of a corner in that respect since Knockhill and at both Thruxton and Silverstone, Tom absolutely nailed it to line up on the front row of the grid with significant success ballast on-board.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t qualify right up towards the sharp end again at Croft, and expectations are pretty high. We’re certainly going there with an optimistic mindset. As a team, we pride ourselves on taking the positives out of every situation and using adversity to motivate us and drive us forward, and after the disappointment of Silverstone, it’s vital that we fight back straightaway. We can’t play the long game anymore – we need to be targeting big points now every time out.”
“Croft is a circuit I enjoy – even more so since it was resurfaced,” added Ingram. “It’s a very technical track, with a bit of everything to it. The front-wheel drive cars are quick through the first sector, while the rear-wheel drive cars have the advantage through the final sector. That makes it a balancing act, and establishing a strong set-up for the whole lap is probably the biggest challenge of the weekend.
“Last season, Croft was a bit of a ‘light bulb’ moment for us as it was there that we realised we had been pursuing the wrong direction with the Corolla. That marked a real turning-point in the car’s development, and given the significantly later date this year, I’m hoping we’ll show even more of a step forward in performance than we have elsewhere. There’s no question that we’re going back there with a much better car. Everybody has improved, of course – but hopefully we have improved that little bit more…
“I left Silverstone ruing a missed opportunity, but the reality is we were bang on the pace again weekend-long. To be 42 points away from the championship lead following four failures to score – all of which were outside of our control – is obviously disappointing, but also underlines how quick we have been. If we had picked up just 11 points in each of those races – which is lower than our average score this season – we’d be leading the championship right now. So that’s frustrating and encouraging all at once.
“The momentum tends to ebb-and-flow in the BTCC, and hopefully it will swing back our way again at Croft. We need to recover points, and we are fully prepared to adopt an aggressive strategy in order to do so. The bottom line is that I’m aiming to win again next weekend. If we want to get back into the championship battle, it has to be maximum attack from this stage on.”