TOM INGRAM’S TITLE CHALLENGE TAKES OFF
The EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com team continued its rich vein of form in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with a second win in as many meetings at Brands Hatch.
The Suffolk-based team headed for the Kent circuit on the back of a breakthrough success at Snetterton two weeks earlier, with drivers Tom Ingram, Chris Smiley, Jack Butel and Rick Parfitt all confident about their chances on track.
Ingram and Smiley both managed to qualify inside the top ten for the opening race and would line up in sixth and eighth on the grid, with Parfitt setting his fastest time of the weekend to take 25th place, two spots ahead of Butel.
A fine start to the opening race saw Ingram immediately jump up into the top three when the lights went out, but a tap from the Honda of Gordon Shedden at Clearways then unsettled the Hyundai and saw him shuffled back down to sixth spot.
Briefly slipping back to seventh as a result of the extra weight on the car, Ingram was part of a train of cars that managed to fight ahead of Aiden Moffat mid-way through the race as he crossed the line in sixth spot, with Smiley following him home in seventh.
A storming start to race two saw Ingram rocket up into third place when the lights went out, and he would shadow the Honda of Dan Rowbottom in the first half of the race before losing a spot to Jake Hill’s Ford.
When Hill then went off with a puncture, Ingram wasted little time in fighting his way ahead of Rowbottom into second spot and chased down leader Tom Oliphant, launching his bid for the position going into the final lap.
Putting his car up the inside, the #80 car slipped through into the lead and wrapped up a second win in as many meetings to also take the championship lead.
As in the opening race, Smiley was able to also run strongly inside the top ten throughout as he repeated his race one result, whilst Butel crossed the line on the fringes of the top 20 although an unfortunate penalty saw him demoted to 25th place in the end results, which left him two spots behind Parfitt.
The reverse grid race saw solid finishes for the quartet with Smiley ending the weekend with a third top ten finish, whilst Ingram, Butel and Parfitt were 12th, 21st, 26th.
At the end of the weekend, Ingram sits second in the overall standings and the Independents’ standings, whilst Butel holds fourth in the Jack Sears Trophy for drivers without an overall podium finish.
Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com also heads the Independent Teams’ standings ahead of round four at Oulton Park in late July, with a two-day test at the circuit being scheduled for early next month.
Chris Smiley, #22 Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“We’ve been right there in the top ten all through race day and kept our nose clean. Thankfully we’ve avoided any drama, and come away from the weekend with some good points on the board.”
Rick Parfitt, #62 EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“We’ve made a massive leap forwards this week in terms of how I understand the car and I just need to do better in qualifying. When you’re near the back, it’s hard to make up places as everyone is so close but my race pace today has been strong.”
Tom Ingram, #80 Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“I think it’s been a really positive weekend for us again.
“Tom [Oliphant] only really gave me one chance to get ahead and I didn’t need a second one when he left the largest gap in the world; there was no second invitation required when we were going for a win. To get another victory for the team is fantastic, and having picked up more points in race three, it’s still nice and close in the standings heading to Oulton Park.”
Jack Butel, #96 EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com Hyundai i30 Fastback N, said:
“We made up places in race one which was a good start and then in race two, I was delighted with the pace we showed when you compared it to the guys at the front.
“The penalty set us back a bit again for race three but again I was able to pick people off in front so I think I can take a huge amount away from this weekend. I don’t think it will be long until we are able to bring home a points finish.”