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Tom Ingram ‘proud’ of taking fight to rear-wheel drive cars at Knockhill

With Knockhill being a circuit that traditionally suits cars with rear-wheel drive or a shorter wheelbase, Tom Ingram said he was ‘proud’ to have taken the fight to the front-runners across the weekend as he picked up his sixth Independents race victory of the season.

Ingram, who impressed in qualifying on Saturday after posting the second fastest time, just 0.021 seconds behind former mentor Jason Plato’s Subaru Levorg GT, leaving him as the fastest front-wheel drive car on the grid.

From there, a battle against tyre degradation during the first contest saw Ingram claim fourth, and his sixth Independent win of the season, before the increase of success ballast to the Toyota Avensis made the order even taller, and Ingram was forced to retire after contact with several rivals whilst valiantly battling to remain within the top ten.

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The reverse grid contest saw a spirited fightback from the 22-year old, with the former Ginetta ace claiming 12th from a lowly 25th on the grid, including five positions on the opening lap alone.

The end result of the triple header at Knockhill sees Ingram sit on the fringes of the championship battle, 68 points adrift of standings leader Sam Tordoff with nine races left to complete before the series closes at Brands Hatch in October.

Ingram admitted after the weekend that one of the greatest pleasures had been discovering their qualifying pace was genuine, with practice usually a lottery depending on fuel loads, tyre compounds and setup programmes.

“We went to Knockhill anticipating a real dogfight and being a circuit that tends to favour rear wheel-drive, short-wheelbase cars – of which the Avensis is neither – we were fully expecting a tough weekend,” commented Ingram.

“That being the case, I was pleasantly surprised by how quick we were in practice and while you never know exactly what everyone else is doing, qualifying proved that our pace was genuine.

“It was a shame about the puncture, because it cost us a set of new tyres and meant we had to bolt two old ones on for our final run. After the red flag, I knew it was do-or-die and I put it all on the line. I really don’t think I could have got much more out of the lap; the only frustration was that had we had new tyres on all-round, it would likely have been good enough for pole…

“Regardless of that, we were really pleased to be on the front row of the grid – there was no way we should have been able to beat the other rear wheel-drive cars – although we knew that holding onto our position would be an extremely tall order given the advantage they had.

He was pleased to be able to cover off the BMW duo of Tordoff and Jack Goff in the opening stages of the first race despite their performance advantage, and admitted his race pace was largely dictated by some tyres that looked distinctly second-hand by the end of the race.

“I got a mega start in the first race to cover the BMW attack, but immediately, the pace was too hot for a front wheel-drive car round Knockhill and with being pushed so hard from behind, my tyres were gone by one-third distance. After that, I was right on the ragged edge trying to defend and I didn’t fight too hard against Goff or Turkington because with the speed differential, I knew they would find a way past eventually and didn’t want to hurt my tyres even more,” explained Ingram.

“I would have loved to have finished on the podium outright, but we had to be happy with another Independents’ win – it was a lot more than we could have expected going into the weekend and we could be very proud at having held our own throughout.”

He cited success ballast as the main issue during the second race, and also felt a stronger result in the reverse grid contest could have been possible if not for his lowly starting position, having had to take a lot of life out of his tyres fighting through the field.

“Unfortunately, we then struggled with the extra ballast in race two; that plays a big role at Knockhill, and we really didn’t have an answer. I was effectively a sitting duck and people were overtaking me wherever they wanted, after which it all got a bit physical and I found myself being knocked around from pillar to post! It almost got to the stage of ‘who wants to hit us next?!’ It was completely unnecessary and there was a lot of questionable driving going on that left us with a fair amount of damage.

“Being so tight-and-twisty, Knockhill clearly isn’t a great place to be starting towards the back of the grid, but I was aiming for points in race three and that’s what we achieved. The top ten looked to be on at one stage, but I took a lot out of my tyres fighting through and by the end, I had nothing left. It was such a shame, because the car felt absolutely mint and if we’d started further up the order, we could have been looking at an altogether different result.”

Looking forward to the next meeting at Rockingham over the weekend of 27th-28th August, Ingram is excited about returning to the scene of his breakthrough podium last season and believes the circuit is well suited to the Toyota, filling him with confidence.

“Still, we salvaged something from a difficult situation and we’ll go to Rockingham with very little weight on-board. It’s a circuit I have always loved, and it should be more of a level playing field than Knockhill was. On paper, it’s the kind of track that should suit the Avensis well, so let’s see what we can do…”

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