Tom Ingram believes Toyota has taken ‘a big step forward over the...

Tom Ingram believes Toyota has taken ‘a big step forward over the break’

Tom Ingram
Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Tom Ingram believes that Speedworks Motorsport has taken a ‘big step forward’ with their all-new Toyota Corolla during the British Touring Car Championship summer break, leaving him confident for Snetterton this weekend.

Ingram demonstrated top five pace in three of the four sessions during the recent mid-season tyre test at the Norfolk circuit, clocking more than 100 laps of the Snetterton 300 circuit.

The 25-year-old is currently ninth overall in the team’s first season with the all-new Corolla, and Ingram is expecting the car to perform well at Snetterton due to the car’s shorter wheelbase.

Although he has never won at Snetterton in a touring car, last year, Ingram took two podium finishes, including a drive from 27th on the grid to third in race two, leaving him confident heading to the sixth event of 2019.

“We’ve definitely taken a big step forward with the Corolla and found some more speed over the summer break – both at the factory and on the track,” said Ingram. “I would be confident to say we came away from the test with top six pace.

“As ever in these scenarios, you don’t really know what everybody else is doing with regards to tyres and ballast, and the quickest lap times were almost certainly set on soft tyres and with no weight.

“The true order won’t become apparent until we’re in the heat of battle at the race weekend, but we didn’t go chasing any headlines and were happy with where we were.

“We managed to work through most of our planned programme and overall, it was the best and most competitive the Corolla has felt yet.

“We’ve seen in previous years that short-wheelbase cars tend to go well at Snetterton, and I’m excited to go back knowing we have a real fighting chance.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll be much stronger over the second half of the season than we have been so far, which is what we always said was the goal.

“The first half was very much a learning curve, and while we still clearly have more learning to do – there’s plenty more experimenting, understanding and refining yet to come – we’re increasingly getting the Corolla into the right kind of window.

“I think we’re in a really positive place and am looking forward to genuinely going on the attack over the second half of the season, which will set us up nicely for a proper title tilt next year.”

Christian Dick, Team Principal of the Speedworks-run Team Toyota GB with Ginsters, says that the Cheshire-based team has been flat-out trying to prepare the car for the second half of the season.

“I think we can go into the second half of the season with a justifiable sense of optimism,” said Dick. “Given that we entered 2019 with a completely new car, to come away from the first half of the year with 13 points finishes out of a possible 15 – including a hugely popular victory in front of 4,500 members and families from Toyota Manufacturing UK at Donington Park – was a very positive achievement, and puts us in a position to really step things up a gear from Snetterton onwards.

“The five-week gap since Oulton Park might officially be termed the BTCC’s summer ‘break’, but I can assure you there has been very little rest back at our Northwich base as we continue to work tirelessly to extract every last thousandth-of-a-second out of the Corolla and narrow the margin to our competitors.

“The Snetterton test was very useful, allowing us to put lots of miles on the car around what is one of the BTCC’s trickier circuits to master. We kept our heads down and followed our own programme, and hopefully that will pay dividends when we hit the track in anger.

“The tyre situation will certainly inject an element of the unknown and should lead to some exciting racing – not to mention unusual results. Getting that right or wrong could ultimately prove to be the difference between a winning and losing weekend.”