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Tom Ingram hopeful of podium finish despite frustrating qualifying

Despite falling foul of a ride height check and red-flag conditions during qualifying, Tom Ingram remains hopeful he can score a podium finish in at least one of today’s three British Touring Car Championship races at Rockingham.

Ingram, who had his initial lap times removed following TOCA checks, returned to the fray in the worsening conditions and set a fastest time of 1:37.575, some 1.237 seconds adrift of pole-sitter Gordon Shedden.

The session was arguably the most difficult since the series visited Rockingham in torrentially wet weather in 2012, with aquaplaning at low speeds, poor visibility and continuous storm conditions engulfing the 1.94 circuit for a substantial period of the afternoon.

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Ingram admits the red flags cost him the chance to put in more laps, and improve his time, and felt the session was a ‘messy’ one for him.

“The red flag cost us a couple of laps, and then we had to come back in to get re-checked [after having times disallowed], which cost us a bit of time,” he explained.

“Then on one lap on my second set of new tyres right at the end I went straight on at Turn 2, which cost me another lap, so it was just a messy session to be honest. Obviously the pressure was on after we lost it to fire another time back in, but the track was like a river by then.”

He also praised the race officials for halting the session at the appropriate time, with conditions continually deteriorating across the thirty minutes. Ingram personally felt the conditions were becoming dangerous.

“Thankfully they red-flagged it when they did, because I came over the radio and said that I was coming in because it was dangerous, I was just aquaplaning at about 10 mph and straight in to the gravel. It was getting a bit silly and it was undriveable, so thankfully they red-flagged it else somebody would have had a mammoth crash. Thankfully common sense prevailed.”

When caught up with Ingram shortly after the conclusion of qualifying, he was in a pragmatic mood and opted to look forward to the three races ahead rather than focus on what, impressively, proved to be one of his worst Saturdays of the season.

“I think we could have gone quicker, but ifs, coulds, maybes [are meaningless]… I was just trying to put in a banker lap, really. Considering where we were halfway through the session, I’m more than happy with that.”

In terms of objectives, Ingram felt the weekend would prove to be a case of ‘take what we can’ as he seeks to gain more experience ahead of a title push next season.

Rockingham was the scene of Ingram’s breakthrough podium last season after a titanic duel with Jason Plato in the reverse grid contest, so undoubtedly the Speedworks Motorsport pilot has as good a chance as any to break through and hit the front.

“We’ll take what we can, just get through the weekend and see where we are at the end of it. I like to think we’ve got the pace in the dry and in the wet, so it’s just a case of being with other people that we know we can race against. So long as we get some decent results, I like to think there’s potentially a podium in one of the races, but we’ll just have to see.” he commented.

“We didn’t have a single wet race last year, and we’ve only had one this year so far. I’m really not fussed if it’s dry or not – so long as we’re not panicking and as long as we’re prepared, it doesn’t matter.”

The first race gets underway at 11:37 this morning.

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