Reigning British Touring Car Champion Tom Ingram says his ‘confidence is high’ as he prepares to defend his title at the Donington Park season opener this weekend.
The Excelr8 Motorsport driver won six times on his way to a maiden BTCC crown in 2022, including with victory at the season opener at Donington last year.
In what is now his third season racing an Excelr8-run Hyundai i30 N Fastback, Ingram has high confidence as he heads into his tenth season in the championship.
The 29-year-old will have to contend with a few adjustments though. The top ten qualifying ‘showdown’ format is being utilised at half of the year’s events now, whilst the hybrid deployment system has been adjusted and the Goodyear option tyre is being reintroduced once again.
With the changes to the format, Ingram expects unpredictability to increase this year – but he maintains a level of confidence about himself.
“I’m excited for the year ahead and looking forward to seeing how it plays out,” said the 25-time race winner. “Winning the championship definitely changes your perspective a bit.
“It was an incredible moment and naturally I want to do it again, but I’m going into the new season with a slightly different mindset and outlook.
“Of course, there’s still pressure – it’s the BTCC, there’s always pressure – but it’s a different kind of pressure now and having proved that I can do it, I feel more relaxed.
“We finished last season with a super-fast car at Brands GP, and in many ways, that made it difficult to know exactly what to do over the winter, because the package we had was clearly very strong.
“We didn’t want to deviate too much from that, but equally, we knew we couldn’t stand still as then we would be overtaken. We had to keep moving forwards and try to make what we had even better, so there’s been a big development push and a lot of work carried out back at base at Excelr8 HQ.
“It’s been a very busy and productive few months, and I think we’re in good shape. Testing has been a bit disjointed due to the constantly changing weather, but everybody is in the same boat in that respect.
“I’ve got to say, it honestly wasn’t our goal to end up fastest in the group test, and you can’t read anything into those lap times; we all know how unpredictable the BTCC can be, so I’m remaining level-headed and let’s see how the first race weekend goes.
“So many elements need to align to win this championship. You need to be in the right car at the right time, on the right tyre at the right time, make the right calls at the right time, have the right people around you and obviously, you also need to have a bit of luck over the course of the season.
“There are so many things that can go right or wrong and pieces of the puzzle that need to slot into place – it’s never simply a case of ‘fastest driver in fastest car wins’.
“I think the return of the ‘option’ tyre and having the top ten qualifying showdown at more events will add a different dynamic and some extra drama and inconsistency into the mix, and I’m ready to get cracking.
“I enjoy the challenge of Donington Park and obviously have good memories from last season. I want to put some decent points on the board there, and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to do that.
“The BTCC is so competitive that it’s a constant battle as everybody strives to improve, but the feeling is good and the confidence is high, so bring it on!”