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‘Angry’ Tom Ingram: ‘It was the best the car has felt all year’

Reigning British Touring Car Champion says his Hyundai i30 N Fastback felt ‘the best it has all year’ even though he was ‘angry’ at himself for a missed opportunity in qualifying on Saturday.

Going into the weekend with a 37-point deficit to championship leader Ash Sutton, Ingram lost out on running in a wet opening practice session of the weekend when he lost a wheel on his car.

In qualifying, the 30-year-old then looked to be on course for pole position, with two outright best sector times, before he made a mistake at the final corner of the lap and qualified in second, with pole once again going to Sutton.

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Although Ingram got ahead of Sutton at the start of the wet opening race, he was powerless to prevent him re-passing on lap two and Ingram ultimately slipped back to over seven seconds adrift at the finish.

Then, Ingram was controversially penalised for not giving Jake Hill enough room on the run to the chequered flag, being demoted a place to third.

A fired-up Ingram then went on to win race two in style, confidently passing Hill at the first corner, before pulling the same move on Sutton three laps later, going on to claim the 27th win of his BTCC career.

Having randomly drawn the top 12 to be reversed for race three, Ingram had his work cut out. Despite running in front of title rival Sutton for 11 of the race’s 15 laps, Ingram lost out when trying to get around the ailing Daniel Rowbottom late in the race, leaving him to finish in seventh.

Crucially, that means Ingram has lost a further five points to Sutton in the battle to claim this year’s drivers’ championship crown.

“We’ve driven Donington Park’s ‘National’ circuit no end of times over the years, and it’s amazing how different the ‘GP’ loop feels,” said Ingram. “There are only a couple of extra corners, but they completely change the dynamic of the lap.

“We went there expecting to be in good shape after the tyre test, but we lost out on dry running due to our issues in free practice, and in qualifying, I messed up.

“That was so frustrating. We’ve worked hard over the last few weeks to reduce the deficit, and maybe there was an element of me getting over-excited because I knew we had the pace to really challenge for the first time in a while.

“To go ‘purple’ in sectors one and two and then lose four tenths-of-a-second in the final corner was a bitter pill to swallow, and I spent the rest of the day kicking myself over it as we should have been on pole.

“After the car felt so good in the dry, we unfortunately went the wrong way on set-up for the wet weather in race one and Ash was in a different class.

“When I saw him coming, there was nothing I could do and as soon as he was past, he seemed able to find grip and traction that I couldn’t. I tried to hang onto his coat-tails, but he just disappeared into the distance.

“Once we bolted the slicks on for race two, I thought, ‘this is on – we’re having this’. The team did a great job and the Hyundai absolutely came alive. Perhaps there was a little bit of anger from my side thrown into it, too – maybe I need to be angry more often!

“It was the best the car has felt all year, which is really encouraging, and to put it right when it counted and come away with some big points after my mistake on Saturday was really satisfying and the least I could do. We really needed that.

“Honestly, I’ve never been so pumped following a race. Having been on the back foot all season and trying to play catch-up, it feels like we’ve taken a genuine step forward and have unlocked some real performance.

“Together with my engineer, Spencer [Aldridge] and the whole team, we’ve been looking into every area to get the i30N back to the way we remembered it from last year, and it just felt phenomenal.

“They’ve given me one hell of a car that I can truly go on the attack with, and it actually feels like we’ve got a chance again.

“It might be too late now for the championship, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Never say never…”

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