Tom Ingram says he will need his ‘top game’ tomorrow as he looks to score a maiden podium in the British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham.
Ingram enjoyed an auspicious start to the weekend as he set the pace in the opening practice session, while he finished second in practice two.
And the Speedworks driver continued that form into qualifying, leading for much of the 30-minute session before settling for fifth – although that later became fourth following a post-race penalty for Gordon Shedden.
Ingram’s effort was just 0.308s shy of Mat Jackson’s pole effort, and speaking after the session, the 22 year-old was pleased with his performance throughout the day.
“It was a great qualifying for us,” said Ingram. “We’ve had two decent free practice sessions and it’s been the first real weekend that we’ve been able to capitalise on those; most weekends we seem to be up there in free practice but we can never seem to do it when it comes to qualifying.
“It’s been the first real time that we’ve had a decent run so I’d like to think we can turn that into a decent set of races as well.”
While a carry-over of form from practice into qualifying was a welcome surprise, Ingram was unable to pinpoint a factor when prompted by TouringCars.Net.
“I think we’ve been able to maximise it, more than anything else,” he said. “There have been a lot of times where something hasn’t lined up – either we’ve changed something or something’s happened on track and we’ve been caught at the wrong time.
“I think the pace has always been there but it seems to be that most weekends it doesn’t fall into place for us at the right time. This seems to be the first time that we’ve almost properly made it happen.
“Yes, it’s a career-best fifth, [but] I’m almost disappointed because I think more could have come from it.
“I’m kind of kicking myself in my sense – I made a mistake on my fast lap which took a couple of tenths off, so you can’t help but think about what it could have done.
“But of course I’m happy with that and we’re in a good place tomorrow to get some decent results.”
Fourth place on the grid leaves Ingram just one place shy of the podium places – which have so-far eluded the Toyota Avensis driver during his career – and while he fell short of predicting a rostrum finish, he was confident of putting on a show at the front of the field.
“Again, we’ve got to wait and see how Race 1 goes,” he said on his hopes of a podium. “We wouldn’t be here unless we were sure that we could potentially get something in there.
“The pace is there, the car seems to be holding onto its tyres really well and the qualifying pace – where were down before – seems to be really strong so who knows; we’ll find out tomorrow.
“But I’m not scared – this is the first time we’re not racing with the top ten anymore, we’re racing with top guys. We’ll have to be on our top game tomorrow so I’m going to grab an early night and see what happens.”