Team Toyota GB’s Tom Ingram believes he “really turned a corner” in the final British Touring Car Championship race at Thruxton after struggling with the setup of his new-for-2019 Toyota Corolla in the previous races.
The 2018 runner-up qualified 15th in a session which saw the majority of runners have their times disallowed due to track limit infringements, and could only progress a few positions to come home 12th in the opening race.
Ingram again made up places in the following contest to eventually finish eighth, but enjoyed his best result of the day in the final race to finish fifth after a tight battle with triple champion Matt Neal.
He told TouringCars.Net he believed he made a step forward in the final race, and enjoyed seeing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Corolla against Neal’s Honda Civic Type R FK8 during their battle.
“Race three it felt like we’d really turned a corner with it and it felt really positive,” said Ingram. “That was definitely our standout race from a performance point of view.
“You could see the difference between the Honda and us, working in different places. We seem to have a little bit in the high speed stuff and in the slow, and they seem to have the drag out of the high speed corners and down the straights.
“We’re kind of to and fro all the way around really. Positive end to the day, we’ve learnt a lot from the car, and like I say in that last race the car felt really, really nice and balanced. It’s gone in the direction we wanted it to.
“We’re just lacking that last little bit that we’ve still got to extract from it but it’s good.”
In the previous races, Ingram had looked to struggle with oversteer as the Corolla appeared unsettled through Thruxton’s high-speed sections.
He admitted he was “hanging on for dear life” at certain points before a setup change brought the car into contention for race three.
“She was fairly lairy in the first few races! We were absolutely hanging on for dear life at some points,” he said.
“We’ve had some solid results. We come away sixth in the championship which is not ideal, but it’s not bad.
“We’ll go on to Croft now and have to see how that goes.”
When asked about the comparative success of the new Corolla against the new BMW 3 Series – which has now won over half of the races so far in 2019 – Ingram admitted being a smaller, one-car outfit was the main factor for a slower start.
Despite this, he feels the manufacturer-backed team have worked in a “methodical manner” to get the car moving forward, with the highlight so far his race three triumph at Donington Park.
“We’re up against a world-class team there with three cars, and it doesn’t matter what we’ve done or what we’ve done before,” Ingram said.
“Ultimately we’re still a one car team here. So it’s always going to take a little bit of time, but we’re in a nice place with it.
“We’re moving in the right direction, and we’re doing it in a methodical manner – we’re not just throwing stuff at it – we’re going the right way.”