Tom Ingram admits that his race two puncture, which dropped him from fifth to 12th, was a ‘real kick in the teeth’ as the Excelr8 Motorsport driver saw his British Touring Car Championship title challenge take a hit at Thruxton.
Carrying 66 kg of success ballast into the event – the second heaviest of any driver – Ingram managed to qualify his Hyundai in 12th for the first race.
The weight limited the ability of the 28-year-old to progress through the field, and he ended the opening encounter in tenth, having made up three places on the opening lap before later losing out to BTC Racing’s Senna Proctor and Power Maxed Racing’s Jason Plato.
Free of most of the weight for race two, with just 9 kg on board, Ingram had been making strong progress and was up to fifth before a final-lap puncture at the high-speed Church corner sent him spiralling down the order to take the chequered flag in 12th.
Not only did that cost Ingram points, but it also denied him the chance to start the reverse-grid race three from the second row of the grid.
From 12th on the grid for the final race, Ingram needed racing laps in order to fight through the field, but three safety car periods limited his ability to make progress.
Having climbed to ninth on the opening lap, Ingram made steady progress during the race, including passing Ash Sutton around the outside at the chicane for eighth on lap seven.
He then passed Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant for seventh three laps later, before the second safety car intervention.
Another late race safety car period again halted Ingram’s charge, although in the final four laps of racing he made two further places, first past Josh Cook and then Rory Butcher on the final lap of the race to claim fifth.
Ingram leaves Thruxton still second in the drivers’ standings, albeit now 16 points further adrift of points leader Sutton, taking the total deficit to 30 points.
“I love Thruxton, but we knew we were on the back foot going there with the weight we had on-board, and we had to knuckle down to try to extract the most we could from the weekend,” said Ingram
“We changed the Hyundai quite a lot compared to when we were there back at the start of the season and it felt good, but we just struggled with the ballast in qualifying.
“We’ve gone into the last four events carrying 66 kg, and it’s really tough to convert that into a decent grid position in a front wheel-drive car.
“We made a couple more tweaks for Sunday, and race one was all about securing as many points as possible. It felt like a lot of hard work for what we got out of it.
“I don’t tend to get overly excited about tenth-place finishes, but it was a solid result in the circumstances and put some points on the board without incurring too much damage. The battle with Jason was good fun, and fair play to him, he pulled off a cracking move to get past.
“Most importantly, it meant we could remove most of the weight for race two, and the i30 N really comes alive in those situations.
“What then happened at the end was a real kick in the teeth, because we’d pushed hard and done what we needed to do, only to lose it all to the puncture.
“The one thing we needed most of all in race three was laps, and that was the one thing we didn’t get due to the constant safety car interruptions.
“The Hyundai felt awesome, so it was a shame not to be able to fully exploit that, but ultimately, we still scored good points and took some back from Ash, which is what we had to do.
“It was a positive way to finish the weekend and I was particularly pleased to pinch fifth on the final lap as you never know – that extra point could prove crucial come the end of the season.”