Tom Ingram has hailed the “phenomenal job” put in during 2015 by his Speedworks Motorsport team, after the Toyota driver scored his second podium of the season in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) finals day at Brands Hatch.
Ingram, 22, has been one of the stars of the season, taking the fight to the bigger teams in his independent one-car outfit at Speeworks.
Having qualified inside the top ten on an impressive six occasions in 2015, Ingram continued his single-lap form by securing seventh on the grid for race one, surrounded by championship protagonists in front and behind.
“We were certainly looking forward to Brands Hatch a lot more than Silverstone, because we knew its layout and characteristics would play far more into our hands,” explained Ingram. “You need a good chassis underneath you at Brands GP, and the Toyota really scores in that department. It’s a superb track – a challenging, demanding and enjoyable drivers’ circuit – and having achieved our best result of the season there last year, we had another podium in our sights.
“Obviously there was a championship battle going on and I was mindful of not wanting to interfere or adversely affect the outcome in any way – so then of course we go and qualify right in the middle of the four title contenders! We were pleasantly surprised to line up seventh after having no shakedown, but in race one, we knew being realistic that in the cooler morning temperatures, the soft tyres were always going to drop off and we would likely struggle to get a decent result, so we decided to play a tactical game.”
Sacrificing a race one result, Ingram was classified in 25th by the chequered flag, having opted for a single-lap run on the softer tyres after pitting during a safety car period. That netted him fifth on the grid for race two, which proved to be a springboard for an even stronger result.
“I got a fantastic start to gain two places in as many corners, after which we were firmly in the fight for the lead throughout. We pulled away from the guys behind – which proved we had some really good pace – and I actually felt like I had the quickest car of the three of us at the front.”
Running in third for much of the race, Ingram eventually passed Adam Morgan for second on lap 14 and held it to the chequered flag, equalling his best-ever result in the BTCC which was set just two meetings prior at Rockingham. Ingram was thereafter unable to catch the dominant Motorbase Ford Focus of Jackson, however.
“It was tricky to find a way past Adam, because the only real place I had a discernible edge over him was on the exit of Surtees, which meant I needed to put him out-of-position there,” explained Ingram. “That eventually worked and I got him on the run towards Dingle Dell, after which I caught Mat.
“He made a couple of mistakes on the last lap, so he was clearly pushing hard to stay ahead – but the Focus is a very fast car in a straight line and every time we came out of a corner I would watch him sail off into the distance.
“Without the early safety car, I think we would have had a genuine chance to win because that enabled them to preserve their soft tyres, but still, we were over-the-moon to finish second and it fulfilled our objective.”
Ingram’s season ended with an accident in race three, as he was taken out of the final race by Dave Newsham at the second corner, beaching his Toyota in the gravel trap with additional help from the AmD Audi of Jake Hill.
“After race two, race three was something of an anti-climax. I wanted to go out with a bang – but not that kind of bang! I got another demon start and although I knew I was going to be slightly vulnerable on the outside line at Druids, there was literally nowhere else I could go. Newsham tagged me and spun me round, but there was very little damage to the car and we could easily have got going again if it hadn’t been for Hill.
“That said, it doesn’t take the shine off an otherwise brilliant weekend. To have come away with two podiums from the last three meetings of 2015 is awesome – it marks a significant step forward and validates all the development and hard work put in by the Speedworks boys.
“It’s been a mega effort, and I’m merely the one that steers and presses the pedals. For a small, single-car independent team with a budget that’s dwarfed by most of our rivals, I think we’ve done a phenomenal job this year and can be immensely proud. I really can’t praise them all enough.”