Tom Ingram left Brands Hatch pleased to have claimed his first silverware of the season in the British Touring Car Championship, with the Toyota driver keeping himself in title contention.
Qualifying in eighth on Saturday, Ingram admitted that he lacked the pace to have gone any quicker on the day, leaving him with a mid-pack starting position for race one.
In the first of Sunday’s races, Ingram was quick off the mark to move up to sixth by the end of the opening lap, ending up in a multi-car battle for the final podium position.
Eventually passing Jake Hill for fifth on lap 12, Ingram then made up another place when Motorbase’s Rory Butcher dropped out of the lead with a puncture, although fourth would be as high as the Speedworks driver could go come the chequered flag.
Race two then saw Ingram start from the second row of the grid, and the 26-year-old was immediately into third at the start, despite now carrying 42 kg of success ballast.
Ingram put himself into second by the end of the opening lap after passing Ollie Jackson between Westfield and Sheene Curve, but the Toyota driver lacked the pace to ultimately fight past the race leader of BMW’s Colin Turkington, having to also fend off an attack from the Honda of Dan Cammish.
Nevertheless, Ingram secured his first podium of the season and briefly moved into second in the drivers’ standings.
Race three saw the maximum 12 cars be reversed, leaving Ingram in 11th on the grid and in the middle of the pack.
Just three corners into the race, Ingram was taken out of the race by Jack Goff’s Volkswagen, which speared into the right-side of his Toyota Corolla.
Despite ending the weekend with a first non-finish of the year, Ingram was upbeat about his weekend performances.
“I’ve got to be happy with the way Brands Hatch went on the whole,” said Ingram. “Everything gelled extremely well, and the Corolla got better and better each time we took to the track.
“We were lacking just a little bit of performance in qualifying – even if I had hooked all of the sectors together, it would only have gained us a tenth-of-a-second or so, which wouldn’t have changed that much – but we definitely had the speed to fight for the podium in race one.
“Unfortunately, we just got caught up in a few too many squabbles, which seems to have been a feature of our season so far.
“Once I managed to clear Hill, I quickly closed the gap to Jackson ahead. The Corolla was working brilliantly, but we simply lost too much time in the first half of the race, which was a little frustrating.
“It was fantastic to finish second in race two, though, and fastest lap proved the pace we have in the Corolla.
“I knew I needed to get past Jackson quickly after the experience of being held up in race one and my move was forceful but fair, without putting either of us at risk.
“It was just a shame that the safety car blunted our charge early on and possibly cost us a shot at victory, as we had to contend with Dan as well as Colin after the re-start.
“Once Dan disappeared, I backed off to look after the car and make sure I brought it home.
“Race three was one of those things that happens sometimes when you’re starting in the middle of the pack – wrong place, wrong time.
“Thankfully, it didn’t do too much damage to the car, but there’s a safety system in the fuel tank and the impact somehow activated the shut-off switch, which cut all the fuel to the engine so I couldn’t get going again.
“Given the rate of attrition in that race, I think we could have come away with another really strong result, but equally, at least we didn’t lose any points to some of our major rivals, so it could have been worse and we’re still in a very good position moving on to Oulton Park.”
Ingram heads to Oulton Park in two weeks’ time for the third event of the year in fourth overall in the drivers’ standings, 28 points adrift of leader Turkington.