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Why Tom Ingram provides a blueprint for aspiring BTCC independent drivers

Every generation of the British Touring Car Championship has its stars – those intangible, talented few that can wring the neck of any machine entrusted to their care. Whichever way you look at it, Tom Ingram is cementing his credentials as a candidate for the forthcoming years.

When Speedworks Motorsport signed Ingram as a fresh-faced 20-year old back in 2014, he had already added Ginetta Junior, G50 and G55 Supercup crowns to his CV, with a daunting victory tally of 32 races across a four-year period earning him a BRDC Rising Star accolade. Some graduation.

A consistent debut campaign followed – twenty points scoring finishes from a possible thirty and a final points tally that reflected comparably with the experienced Dave Newsham in the same car twelve months previous.

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Ingram has gone on to tick each milestone off in superlative fashion – his maiden podium the result of a titanic duel with sometime mentor Jason Plato; his first pole position scored with each of the 32-car capacity grid on base weight and his maiden victory after fending off defending champion Gordon Shedden and three-time champion Matt Neal. He’s certainly got the showmanship element nailed down – but what makes Ingram the perfect blueprint for any aspiring BTCC independent?

Loyalty has been key to Ingram’s progression – works contracts have been mooted in the past, but remaining with Christian Dick’s Speedworks’ outfit has enabled Ingram to invest an increasingly sliding scale of financial investment from a network of loyal, equally growing companies, into the Toyota Avensis package. The environment gives Ingram an element of freedom to experiment with the car as suits his needs, with the package tailored to his requirements where possible by the ever-watchful Geoff Kingston.

And Kingston has certainly been instrumental in Ingram’s success – the redesigned aerodynamics on the Avensis allowing Ingram to fight for wins, not just points. This year the car has undergone a facelift internally – Ingram told at Brands Hatch that most components beneath the hood are brand-new.

Some have questioned the outdated Avensis package in recent seasons, but through sensible investment this Independent outfit have transformed it into a likely championship front-runner. Which throws into sharp relief Ingram’s second quality – the ability to analyse where to best spend a limited budget, both in terms of car and team.

Of course, racecraft factors in to the discussion, and Brands Hatch last weekend gave the perfect example of Ingram’s stance on-circuit. A lightning getaway from race one facilitated a bold move on the outside line into Paddock that gave Ingram the lead, which he then built into a comfortable advantage.

Fast-forward to the ballast-laden Avensis a few hours later and an impressive podium finish was secured through clever-thinking. Under pressure from Rob Collard, Ingram chose to let the BMW 1-series go, rather than repeat last year’s debacle at Druids and risk a non-score.

Bad luck has been Ingram’s largest downfall in the BTCC, but here is a man willing to learn from his mistakes rather than attribute them to the fault of others. A third points finish in race three highlights something that has been present from the start – the consistent mindset of scoring.

Success in motorsport is a gradual, disrupted process in any category. In Ingram’s case, slow and sustained growth has been the ethos, fuelled by a determined talent with a willingness to learn and use his formative years as a platform to springboard himself to later success.

Ingram told me at the Autosport Show in January he had no designs on moving on from the British Touring Car Championship in the mid-to-long term. Which, quite frankly, is an ominous sign for anybody with their designs on winning a host of championship titles before his time is up.

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