Tom Ingram admits he has ground to make up in the British Touring Car Championship after a challenging weekend at Thruxton, his weekend having been turned upside down by being caught up in another driver’s incident in race one.
Ingram went into the weekend without any hybrid deployment to use in qualifying as a penalty for his early-season success.
Despite that, the Excelr8 Motorsport driver put his Hyundai in eighth on the grid for the opening race.
In the opening race, Ingram was challenging for third as part of a five-car group when he was caught up in an unavoidable incident when Daniel Rwobottom tagged Dan Cammish and sent the latter spinning in front of Ingram.
Forced to take avoiding action onto the grass, Ingram’s radiator consequently filled with grass and he had to make a pitstop to have it cleared out to prevent engine overheating, dropping him to the back of the field.
He would ultimately finish outside the points in 21st after the lack of any safety car interventions meant he never had the chance to catch up to the pack.
Race two saw Ingram’s hybrid boost fully replenished as a result of his lowly race one ranking, and a determined drive elevated him to eighth by the chequered flag – a gain of 13 places.
The 28-year-old narrowly missed out on the reversed-grid pole position for race three and thus started in eighth, but up against much quicker drivers he still made progress to end the day with a sixth-place finish.
Having gone into the weekend as the leader, Ingram now sits fourth in the points, 28 points behind new leader Josh Cook.
Ingram took his misfortune in his stride, as he focussed on getting back on track at the next meeting in two weeks’ time.
“Thruxton is a circuit I always enjoy – I love the feeling of just hanging on all the way around the lap – but that really wasn’t our weekend,” said Ingram.
“After making some changes between free practice and qualifying, we felt we were in decent shape and whilst we weren’t exactly celebrating being eighth on the grid, in the circumstances, it was reasonable enough.
“Hybrid might not be quite as effective at Thruxton because it’s such a high-speed track, but it does allow you to gain the momentum and then keep it.
“I made a good start in race one and was in a nice position going into the Complex. When I got the cutback on the exit, I thought, ‘this is going to gain me a few places’, but then Dan [Cammish] was hit and I was merely a passenger.
“I had nowhere to go but to take to the grass, which completely blocked my radiator and with the water temperature rising, we had to pit.
“It was just one of those annoying first lap bunching incidents that happen sometimes in touring cars, and what was even more frustrating was that our pace afterwards was so good – the Hyundai was really well-balanced and felt fantastic.
“From there, race two was all about making the best out of a bad situation. Having lost a big chunk of points earlier on, we had no choice but to be aggressive; of course we still needed to stay out of trouble, but at the same time we had to get back in the mix, so I knew I would have to conjure up a ‘Tom Ingram of old’ fightback.
“Along the way, we unfortunately picked up some damage when I got hit at the chicane, which knocked the tracking out by more than 20 mm.
“That made the car quite lively to drive, and trying to turn into some of the high-speed corners was pretty terrifying, to be honest; we were actually lucky to finish at all, let alone come through the field as far as we did, which was great.
“Then in the last race, as soon as I got up behind Josh [Cook], I was stuck in his dirty air, which has a bigger effect around Thruxton than anywhere else. In that situation, you simply lose all front-end performance and wear your tyres out more quickly – it’s a vicious circle.
“Looking ahead now to Oulton Park, we certainly need to make up some ground. I’ve had pretty rubbish luck there over the years – something always seems to go wrong, and it’s the one track where I’ve never been on the podium in the BTCC – but hopefully we can turn that around this season.
“Qualifying will be key as overtaking there isn’t easy, and with a little bit more hybrid deployment at our disposal, perhaps no longer leading the championship might turn out to be a blessing in disguise. We shall see…”