Tom Ingram believes he has pulled out the lap of his life after qualifying his Hyundai on pole position by four tenths of a second for the opening British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch on Sunday.
Ingram was comfortably clear of his next nearest rival, Toyota’s Rory Butcher, in qualifying on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, even though the Excelr8 Motorsport driver had just three seconds of hybrid deployment available.
The 29-year-old easily broke the qualifying lap record, and in claiming pole position has gained a bonus point to move to six points off series leader Ash Sutton.
Such was Ingram’s confidence – and with an eye on strategy – that he was one of only two drivers to not re-join the session with five minutes to go after a brief red flag stoppage.
After qualifying, speaking with TouringCars.Net, a clearly happy Ingram was also careful to keep his emotions in check.
“In a weird sort of way I feel very chilled with it,” said Ingram. “I don’t feel the over-elation, if you were to call it that, because I think I’m more aware of the job that we’ve still got to do.
“Yes, what we’ve just done is bonkers. Under massive pressure I’ve probably pulled out the lap of my life to get us on the front row and into the best place possible.
“However, all I’ve done now is submit my CV and someone says they’ll have a look at it. I haven’t got the job yet.
“I need to be calm and focus on the job ahead, which is the important stuff which happens tomorrow. Yes, we’ve got a point. Yes, the car is obscene. However, the big work starts tomorrow.”
Ingram described his car as ‘perfect’ – something which he acknowledges is a rare thing for a racing driver to experience.
“I cannot begin to come up with words to say how good that car was. There was not even the slightest nanogram of criticism about the car where I think ‘I’d like it to do that a little bit better’. Nothing. That was the perfect race car.
“It’s a very, very privileged position that you have. I’ve been racing and driving all my life and I can think of one other occasion when I’ve had the perfect race car. It never happens, never.
“So, to get it at the optimal time going into qualifying at the finale in what’s going to be the biggest weekend of my life, I really can’t ask for any more so it’s a good place to be.”
Ingram acknowledge that in getting out of his car early in the session he may have come across as over-confident, but he explained there was a strategic element to his decision.
“Part of it was that we wanted to save a set of tyres back for tomorrow in case we need to charge through so we have some fresh boots.
“But at the same time, we probably looked over-confident in that scenario and I’m not an over-confident person. So, it probably came across as a bit of a willy waving exercise.”
Ingram is hoping to replicate the same form he displayed the last time he had a pole position in 2022.
“The whole pole position thing has always been a stat that I’ve never been very good at because we’ve always carried weight, so I’ve probably only [previously] had five poles – it’s not many. That’s always been a factor of carrying weight.
“To get two in a season is fantastic. The last time we had a pole we took a double win at Oulton Park, and it would be very nice if we could replicate that.”