Tom Ingram said that his 2021 British Touring Car Championship was ‘an amazing season overall’, after the Excelr8 Motorsport driver ended the year in fourth overall in the drivers’ standings.
Ingram went into the season finale at Brands Hatch with an outside shot at the drivers’ title, the fifth consecutive year he has been in the mix, but ultimately lost a place in the championship standings after struggling to break into the top ten in the first two races on Sunday.
Struggling with 57 kg of success ballast in qualifying, Ingram could only manage 13th on the grid for the opening encounter. From there, progress was hindered by a defensive drive from Jake Hill, and Ingram finished the race where he started.
In race two, Ingram found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time at Surtees, having gone off line in avoidance and then being hit by another car, dropping him to 23rd on the opening lap.
The 28-year-old recovered to take the chequered flag in 12th, but with Josh Cook winning the race again, he slipped back in the overall standings.
The final race of the day saw Ingram start from 12th and he was up to seventh by the end of the second lap, before passing Rory Butcher and Cook in one move to gain ground to fifth.
Ingram then progressed past the BMWs of Stephen Jelley and Tom Chilton after a safety car period, before catching up to the Honda of Daniel Rowbottom in second.
Despite applying much late-race pressure, Ingram’s charge ended there and he finished in third, ending the year with his 50th podium finish in the BTCC.
Despite missing out on the title, Ingram praised champion Ash Sutton for his consistent season which yielded his third crown.
“It’s been an amazing season overall,” summarised Ingram. “Ash Sutton is one hell of an opponent, and to match his pace has been incredibly tough, but I honestly can’t pay sufficient credit to all the guys and girls at Excelr8 Motorsport.
“Everybody has done an absolutely phenomenal job throughout and we have achieved so many ‘firsts’, including the first win for Excelr8 and the first win for a Hyundai in the BTCC.
“I think we can all be very proud of what we’ve accomplished this year.”
Ingram explained that he was somewhat perplexed with his lack of pace earlier in the weekend, which meant his championship challenge faltered and he slipped back in the overall standings.
“It was really close in qualifying. The Hyundai felt absolutely brilliant – the best it has so far with that much weight on-board – and we virtually matched the existing lap record.
“The car was doing everything I wanted it to, and I was really pleased with the lap time, so I was surprised and frustrated not to be higher up the grid.
“I went into Sunday with the mindset of going on the attack, as we couldn’t afford to sit and wait for opportunities to fall into our lap.
“Hill was defending like crazy in race one, and in race two, we were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time – just caught in the middle of somebody else’s accident.
“That prompted another recovery drive, and I enjoyed fighting my way through in race three. The i30 N felt fantastic – properly on its toes – and it was nice to be able to unleash its pace at last.
“I knew I was running out of time to get Dan [Rowbottom] towards the end so I had to try something different, and with it getting dark I thought I’d turn on the ‘disco lights’ in an effort to throw him off his guard, but even that wasn’t enough!
“Still, I was really pleased to climb back to third after what had happened in race two – even if it was disappointing to so narrowly miss out on a top three championship finish through no fault of our own, a podium was a positive way to end the season.”