An emotional Tom Ingram says he ‘loved the pressure’ involved in finally clinching his maiden British Touring Car Championship title at Brands Hatch.
After going into five previous title showdown meetings in with a chance of the title and coming out as runner up or lower, Ingram finally got his name onto the legendary Drivers’ championship trophy after the final race on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
The Excelr8 Motorsport driver had earlier converted a sensational pole position into a race one and two victory, having had to withstand heavy pressure from title rival Jake Hill in the second race of the day.
In race three, he was in the thick of the action as he hauled his way up from tenth on the reversed grid to fifth at the chequered flag, including nipping past Hill two laps from the end to finish directly behind outgoing champion Ash Sutton on the road.
Having first had a chance of clinching the drivers’ title at the final meeting in 2017, Ingram admitted he felt emotional when reflecting on his success and seeing the names he used to look up to on the famous trophy.
“Missing out on it a few times, being stood on the side looking at the person you fought against over the course of the year with the pyros going off, is really bloody hard to take,” said Ingram of his previous near misses.
“It’s almost more emotional than watching that moment happening and knowing that an opportunity had gone.
“For years I’ve strived to win this championship. I wanted to win this championship since I was five years old, it’s all I’ve dreamt about doing.
“I remember watching the 1999 season review every single day before I used to go to school. The kids would be playing PlayStation or playing football and I’d be watching the Croft round of the British Touring Car Championship.
“I was sat on the podium truck earlier on just looking at the names and just as I looked around all of a sudden the year 1999 popped up, Laurent Aïello, and I had a little tear because that was the name I used to watch and I kind of idolised him
“To be able to have my name on it is amazing. But it’s a shame that it’s only my name on it because every single person here deserves their name on it as well because the work that’s going in this year has been incomprehensible.
“We’ve done a bloody good job and we’ve done it with the most perfect values I could hope for.”
The fact that the 29-year-old won the title in a year when, with the replacement of success ballast with the hybrid system, arguably the fastest drivers were at the top more regularly, made the success even sweeter for Ingram.
“If you look over the years when I’ve come into the season finale, [such as] in 2018 with 66 kg and we’d qualified 23rd, it’s nice to be able to do it when it’s been down to who’s been fastest this year.
“I’ve really enjoyed that, and I’ve loved the challenge of that. I’ve loved the pressure.
“I said it coming into the weekend that I perform best under pressure – I love it. I don’t know why, I just bloody love it.
“I came in so relaxed; I came in in another state of mind. In qualifying I didn’t even drive that [lap], I was watching myself drive that lap.
“I’ve heard of many sportsmen over the years who have spoken of this out of body experience, and I had it in qualifying, I was watching myself drive. I had all the time in the world – I felt like the world was in slow motion.
“I was able to think about everything else other than driving the car. I wasn’t driving the car by thought process, I was just doing it, it was just happening – it was like breathing.
“To pull four laps out like that was just immense, because I could think about everything else. I could have chatted through the lap with Spencer [Aldridge, Ingram’s race engineer] as I was going around.
“It was something that has never happened in my life and hopefully it happens again. But it was like no other experience I’ve ever had in my life and to have done it when we needed it most was just remarkable.”