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Strong BTCC weekend for Speedworks at Brands

Speedworks Motorsport enjoyed one of their strongest outings to-date in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at Brands Hatch last weekend, with Tom Ingram scoring a trio of top-ten finishes.

At the wheel of a brand-new Toyota Avensis, Ingram proved the car’s pace on Saturday, setting the fastest lap of all in a damp first practice session. He then went on to qualify in ninth position to continue his reputation of being a strong qualifier.

With the help of new engineer Geoff Kingston, Ingram then went on to claim three top ten finishes in Sunday’s races, finishing tenth in the opening encounter before improving to score a brace of sixth-place finishes in races two and three respectively, leaving the single-car team second overall in the Independent Teams’ Championship standings.

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“It’s a bit of a shock to be sitting second in the Independent Teams’ classification – if you’d told me that a couple of weeks ago when the car was essentially just a box of bits in the workshop, I’d have said you were mad!” said Team Principal Christian Dick. “It’s testament to the enormous amount of hard work that everybody inside the team has put in over the winter to get the car ready in time – I genuinely couldn’t be prouder of them – and I think the impact that Geoff has had is clear to see.

“Brands Hatch gave us the opportunity to validate all the upgrades we have brought to the car and it’s pretty evident that we have taken a sizeable step forward – we were quick every time we took to the track, straight out-of-the-box.

“Tom immediately demonstrated the new Avensis’ potential by lapping fastest in FP1 – and when you look at the quality of the field and the sheer strength-in-depth inside the top ten in the BTCC this season, that really is no mean feat. Even more encouragingly, whilst tyre wear was our biggest Achilles’ heel last year, even on the softer compound and with 33kg of weight on-board in race three, the performance didn’t drop off.”

Although Speedworks’ have scored higher results in the past, with stand-in Paul O’Neill taking two sixths and a fourth at Knockhill in 2012, Dick believes that the team’s overall Brands performance was its best so far in the series.

“It was unquestionably our most competitive weekend in the BTCC to-date, but we haven’t shown our full hand yet by any measure,” added Dick. “There are plenty more adjustments we can make and plenty more speed inside this package still to exploit.

“There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, but once we get a better handle on the set-up and extract more of the Avensis’ raw pace, I think we’ll be looking in really good shape. We are up there amongst the front-runners entirely on merit, and we are only going to move forward from here – and that’s tremendously exciting.”

Ingram himself was pleased to get his 2015 campaign off to a clean start, given a spate of bad luck in his maiden season which saw him retire seven times over the course of the year.

“We can be really pleased with what we have achieved this weekend,” said 21-year-old Ingram. “To leave Brands Hatch with three strong top ten finishes is fantastic, especially after some of the bad luck we suffered in 2014 – and the only damage is the need for a new Toyota badge! It’s a real shot in the arm for everybody in the team; all the Speedworks guys have worked incredibly hard over the winter, and massive credit to them for what they have produced – these results are testament to all their efforts.

“Geoff’s input has enabled us to make tremendous progress, and you have to remember that Saturday was effectively just the second time this car has run in anger. That meant FP1 was a leap into the unknown for us – and we ended up quickest! Ok, that probably wasn’t a truly accurate reflection of where we are right now, but what is clear to see is that we have made a genuine step forward. The car felt strong throughout and every change we made seemed to yield the desired effect.

“The biggest improvement is undoubtedly in its tyre management. Last year’s car tended to fade later on in races as the performance dropped off, which left us a bit of a sitting duck and caused us to drop back down the order – whereas at Brands, I was still able to set fast times right towards the end and with a lot of laps on the board, even on the softer compound and with weight in the car in race three. That was a real test, and the new Avensis passed it with flying colours. I can’t tell you how good it is to have a car I can actually race with for the full duration.

“We’ve come away with plenty of valuable data to go through to further refine the car, and that should allow us to go to Donington in a much stronger position than we were in arriving at Brands. Admittedly, I’ll be entering a race weekend carrying success ballast for the first time, but that’s a very nice problem to have – it proves we’re doing something right!”

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