Excelr8 Motorsport’s Tom Ingram picked up ‘solid results’ in the British Touring Car Championship races at Knockhill, although the Hyundai driver lost the lead of the drivers’ championship standings.
Going into the weekend, Ingram was aware of the challenges he would face, with no hybrid allocation for qualifying as a result of leading the standings going into the weekend.
Despite that, Ingram put his car in eighth on the grid for the opening race, 0.456 seconds off pole, as the third-best front-wheel drive entrant at a circuit which is known for suiting rear-wheel drive machinery.
Although he didn’t make any ground away from the line in race one, Ingram pulled off passes on local racers Aiden Moffat and Rory Butcher early in the race to gain two places and take sixth by the chequered flag.
That result gave Ingram ten more laps of hybrid boost for race two, and Ingram was able to get the jump on George Gamble at the start to move up to fifth, before taking fourth from BMW’s Stephen Jelley later in the lap, although that would be the end of Ingram’s charge as he struggled to take the fight to the BMWs ahead.
Starting fourth for the partially reversed-grid finale, Ingram made a dive on Gordon Shedden for third at McIntyre’s on the opening lap, but contact between the duo sent Ingram off track and down to 20th.
A determined recovery drive thereafter saw the 28-year-old claim 12th by the end of the race, although as a result he lost the championship lead to Colin Turkington, who is now five points ahead.
“I went into the weekend feeling confident that we would be in good shape come rain or shine, but we ended up chasing our tails a little bit on Saturday and I was disappointed with qualifying, to be honest,” said Ingram.
“I felt there was a lot more we should have got out of the session, which was mainly down to me not getting it right – I left at least two tenths-of-a-second on the table, which would have put us third.
“We were definitely on the back foot compared to the rear wheel-drive guys, but we were still in the ballpark and knew we had a cracking race car, so the focus for Sunday was on moving forward and scoring good points.
“Being quite cold in race one, the rear wheel-drive cars were always going to struggle slightly to bring their front tyres up to temperature, making the opening few laps our best opportunity to attack – and that’s exactly what we did.
“I then began race two staring at a sea of BMWs, and the truth was we simply couldn’t match them in the warmer conditions. They managed their tyres well and had so much pace in the bank that they could basically give and take as they saw fit.
“As soon as Colin engaged his ‘I’m going to get out of here’ mode on his steering wheel, he just disappeared, but we were as quick as any other front wheel-drive car in the field and fourth place was a very solid result.
“In race three, I’d pulled the same move on other drivers earlier in the day without any issues, but Shedden decided to close the door, which forced me off the track.
“From there, it was all about damage limitation and while it’s difficult to find the positives in situations like that, at least we managed to salvage a few points.
“The bottom line is that we need to learn, improve and come back stronger, because the competition is only going to intensify from here on in.
“At least all the circuits that obviously favour rear wheel-drive are now out of the way, and Snetterton has happy memories for myself and the team and has been a successful hunting ground in the past, so we will go there fully focussed on reclaiming the advantage!”