British Touring Car Championship leader Tom Ingram enjoyed ‘another great haul of points’ in last weekend’s races at Brands Hatch Indy, keeping the Excelr8 Motorsport driver at the top of the drivers’ standings.
Ingram went into the second event of the year with a seven-point advantage, which the Hyundai driver has now eked out to eight points leaving the circuit after a trio of top five results.
Without the new hybrid system available for qualifying, by virtue of leading the standings, Ingram still managed to put his i30 N in sixth for the opening race with a lap just 0.233 seconds from pole.
Inclement weather arrived before the opening race, and Ingram battled his way to second overall in an opening race which saw track conditions dry out towards the end.
In race two, started alongside Josh Cook on the front row, but at McLaren he was bumped off the circuit, dropping him to fourth and leaving his radiator stuffed full of grass.
After losing a place to Dan Cammish on lap three, Ingram then ran in fifth for much of the race, which could have been fourth when Jake Hill spun, but being baulked by the recovering BMW he lost a place to Ash Sutton, leaving him to finish the race in fifth.
The final race saw Ingram start from eighth but make his way up to sixth on the opening lap, which later became fourth with team-mate Tom Chilton slipping back and Ingram getting by George Gamble on the same lap when the Ciceley Motorsport driver ran wide.
Although he was only once on the podium, Ingram felt it had been a strong weekend as he seeks to claim his first BTCC drivers’ title in 2022.
“It was a really good weekend all-in-all, with another great haul of points,” said Ingram. “The circuit had been resurfaced since pre-season testing, which made quite a big difference to the grip level in several corners but we started off in a good place and the Hyundai felt strong in free practice.
“We knew we would struggle in qualifying without any hybrid power, so we were pleased to be in the mix in sixth, and if somebody had offered me second place in race one going into the weekend, I would have snatched their hand off!
“In such tricky conditions, it was all about being patient and looking after the tyres, because they were inevitably going to wear down towards the end.
“If I’d been a bit further back on the grid, I would probably have taken the risk to bolt on slicks as it felt like they might turn out to be the right call, but when you’re leading the championship, there’s no point trying to be a hero and we couldn’t afford to gamble.
“We had to copy what our immediate rivals were doing, be sensible and play it safe to ensure we brought it home.
“There was only really one line, and the moment you strayed away from it, it felt like driving on an oil slick – even the slightest of mistakes was enough to send you bouncing across the grass – so I was very happy to finish second.
“It goes without saying that I always want to win, but ultimately, it’s the points that are important and it was great to start the day so well.
“After the contact on the first lap in race two, I was left nursing a bit of a problem as the radiator was stuffed with grass, which meant I had to back off slightly to manage the engine temperature.
“That obviously wasn’t ideal, so to still finish fifth in the circumstances was a good result, and to complete the day with fourth place in race three represented more solid points.
“We were consistent throughout, which was very encouraging, and we need to maintain that mentality now and stay level-headed moving forward.
“I’m hopeful that hybrid might not be quite so effective at Thruxton as we will be driving at such high speeds already, and it’s a circuit that I love and where I have won in the past.
“I’m feeling really confident in the Hyundai and the team is performing fantastically – so let’s see if we can keep this momentum going…”