Tom Ingram put a difficult weekend at Thruxton into perspective, pointing out the weight advantage compared to his closest rivals for the next British Touring Car Championship meeting at Oulton Park.
Erstwhile championship leader Ingram leaves the high-speed 2.4 mile Hampshire circuit eleven points adrift of Ciceley Racing’s Adam Morgan, who pipped Josh Cook to the top spot with victory in the final race on Sunday.
By virtue of being third overall, the reigning Independents Champion will now have 57 kilograms of success ballast to carry around the 2.2 mile Cheshire venue, which is characterised by straight line speed and power with long straights and several changes in gradient, compared to Cook’s 66kgs and the full quota of 75kgs for Morgan.
A retirement for Ingram in the opening race was swiftly followed by a 20-place gain in the middle contest, before overcoming a start-line error in the reverse grid finale to register a damage-limiting seventh place.
“It was a tough weekend, but I think it looks worse than it was because the others have been so good,” explained Ingram to TouringCars.net
“We’ve recovered and had two decent points finishes – a twelfth and a seventh – the first race was disappointing but these things happen, there’s no point getting annoyed about it.
“The car was fantastic in race two and to come through and make twenty places up was cool, and even in the last race, I had a f*ck up at the start, I just didn’t see the board, how they’ve laid it out here, the person who lifts the board, if you’re in the first five rows it’s fine, when you start to disappear around the corner the pit wall gets in the way.
“I’d like to say we could have had a top five, but it’s ‘ifs, buts, maybes’ and everything else.
“Simpson was fairly abrupt with his fightback, but we expect nothing less really. At the same time, we’ll take seventh, if you look at where we were after race one, to come away with that is something I’m pleased with.”
The Speedworks Motorsport racer is also upbeat about the likelihood of enjoying a better qualifying at Oulton Park, with the hotly-contested Saturday session proving to be his undoing at the same event last year.
“In a roundabout kind of way, we mentioned it going into the weekend, of saying ‘in an ideal world, we want to be going into Oulton Park with less weight’, but still leading the championship, which of course you can’t do,” said Ingram.
“But ideally we want to be fifth all year, ten points off the main fight and have really good Saturdays, have a really good race one and then deal with the weight as it comes. We’re leaving here with the positive that we’ll have a better Saturday at Oulton.”
“We’ve got to look to outscore Josh [Cook] and Adam [Morgan] for the first race to try and get back in touch.”
He also believes the Toyota Avensis is likely to run well at Oulton, but pointed that ballast is likely to make any car inherently slow with the characteristics of the circuit.
“We obviously know where we are, and where we need to be. Thruxton is largely about calming the rear down, or giving the front a bit more, it’s very rare you get a feel from the car that is perfect around here. It’s a very ‘edge of the seat’, knife-edge driving technique that is used, and nine times out of ten it doesn’t feel quite perfect.
“Going to Oulton and carrying the weight, inherently you’ll get a car that is just a bit slow, last year the car felt really good, it was just slow because of the weight. It’s exactly the same thing we had at Donington, the weight makes such a difference and we’ve got to try and be clever with this championship as it goes through, in terms of carrying less weight.”
“We know we’re not going to have ten mega weekends, in an ideal world you’ll have five or six of those and the rest will all be a bit difficult.”
The championship heads north to Oulton Park over the weekend of 09-10 June.