Tom Ingram insists that the pressure is on Ash Sutton heading to the British Touring Car Championship season finale at Brands Hatch next month, even though he lost further ground in the title race at Silverstone.
Although Ingram qualified his EXCELR8 Motorsport Hyundai in third on Saturday, changeable weather in race one saw the reigning champion end up on the wrong tyre in wet conditions.
Whilst some in the field fitted wet tyres on the grid, Ingram was one of a handful of drivers to make the call to change after the opening laps – in which he had also been tagged into a spin.
Emerging down in 26th and a lap down, there was little Ingram could do to finish any higher than 22nd and out of the points.
Dry and consistent conditions in race two allowed Ingram to go on a charge, as he rose from the 11th row of the grid to finish on the podium in third – despite having been hit by Jack Butel on the opening lap which saw him lose ground on the opening lap.
Crucially, however, Ingram finished two places behind title rival Ash Sutton, losing five points in the championship battle.
Starting tenth for the partially-reversed grid third race, Ingram jumped four places on the opening lap before taking two more places following a safety car restart on lap seven.
He moved onto the podium on lap nine, and passed Daniel Rowbottom for second just past the mid-distance, before a power steering failure with six laps to go meant he had to settle for second.
With Sutton finishing directly behind him, Ingram only took two points out of his rival’s lead, leaving him with a large 45-point deficit to overturn next month, and only 67 points still available.
“It was a bit of an upside-down weekend really,” said Ingram. “Historically, to qualify third, finish 22nd in race one and then end up on the podium in races two and three isn’t the right way round to do it, but I’ll take it.
“We showed great pace again and generally outperformed Sutton, but unfortunately the points don’t reflect that, which was circumstantial more than anything.
“The times are always so tight around the ‘National’ Circuit at Silverstone – it’s such fine margins, and hybrid does have an effect there – so I was happy to qualify third.
“That was a solid starting point and it felt like we were in good shape, but we instantly knew we’d made the wrong call in race one – I like going forwards, not backwards!
“Annoyingly, had we made our bed and actually lay in it, I think we’d have come away with a reasonable result, but while it clearly didn’t work out in our favour, we quickly put that behind us.
“Race two on the other hand was brilliant. The car felt fantastic – absolutely alive – and it was a case of ‘put the headlights on, we’re coming through’! I love races like that – it was just so much fun and the adrenaline was really coursing through my veins.
“I lost a handful of positions to Ash on the first lap when Butel came in like a torpedo at Brooklands and I had to jump out of his way in avoidance.
“Without that, I think we would have won, being completely honest, but still, it was phenomenal to battle through and rescue a result out of what could have been a disaster. To finish on the podium was marvellous, and it was a similar story in race three.
“When you’re staring down the barrel of a pretty dismal day like we were after race one, that’s when you have to really focus on the bigger picture.
“It takes a bit of mental resilience to dig deep and know that it can come back to you – you can never give up in this game, and I’m very pleased with our results. Yes, there was an element of ‘what might have been’, but it could also have turned out a lot worse.
“Now we need to go all-in and maximum attack at Brands Hatch. The points gap is fairly significant which means we’ll require a slice of luck, but there’s still a lot to play for and anything can happen so we’ll keep fighting to the end.
“The ‘GP’ circuit was very strong for us last year and we’ve improved the car in recent events. The pressure is on Ash, not us – we’ve proved he’s beatable, and it’s his to lose…”