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Tom Ingram: ‘We’ve turned a huge corner’

Tom Ingram is in an optimistic mood ahead of the start of the British Touring Car Championship this weekend, when he expects to be challenging for a second drivers’ title from the outset.

Ingram, 30, finished runner-up in last year’s BTCC to NAPA Racing UK’s Ashley Sutton, even though he scored more points than in his 2022 title-winning year.

Indeed, the EXCELR8 Motorsport driver stood on the podium in more than half (17) of the season’s 30 races, as he was the only driver to truly take the fight to eventual champion Sutton.

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The 27-time race winner is now keen to reclaim the BTCC title from his rival in what will be his 11th season in the championship.

“My desire to win the title back is greater than it was to win it in the first place,” said Ingram. “It’s natural that you want to win it once, but I don’t think I’d previously appreciated how much you want to get it back after losing it.

“I used to wonder how drivers kept on coming back for more, but now I understand you are never satisfied with just winning it once.”

Ingram believes the team’s pre-season preparations – including a move into the Team Dynamics premises in Droitwich – puts him in better stead for a competitive title campaign this year.

“The 2023 pre-season period was absolutely shocking for us, with next to no dry track time followed by a predominantly dry season, which left us routinely on the back foot and playing catch-up,” explained Ingram.

“This year has been very different. It actually feels like the best pre-season we’ve ever had. We spent three days at Anglesey in amazing weather, which was massively productive. That played a major role in steering our direction and development of the car for the coming season.

“Team Dynamics was the absolute benchmark in the series for many, many years. It’s a hugely impressive facility they have, which I have no doubt played a significant role in that success.

“Alongside the move, we’ve had a very busy winter from an engineering perspective. We’ve taken everything right back to basics and have tried to be very strategic, analysing what worked last year and what didn’t.

“There’s no such thing as a silver bullet in this game, so rather than focussing on any one particular area, we have concentrated on trying to make small improvements across the board. I’m confident that will put us in really good stead once the serious business gets underway.

“The truth of the matter is that we were never far away last year. We were in the mix every weekend and were the only ones to regularly take the fight to Ash and keep him on his toes.

“It goes without saying that everybody else will have improved too – nobody ever sits still in a championship as tough and competitive as the BTCC – but I believe the steps we have taken with the Hyundai’s chassis over the past few months have yielded real gains, and testing seems to have corroborated that.

“Honestly, it feels like we’ve turned a huge corner and that we’re in a really strong place in every area, and I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been too, both mentally and physically.

“More than anything, I think we’re all in such a positive headspace right now, because we know we are good enough and quick enough to win the title back, and we are aiming to hit it hard right from the start.

“The key, as ever in the BTCC, will be to be fast and consistent at every circuit. That, fundamentally, is what we need to do.

“Do I think we can turn the tables on Ash and NAPA Racing? Yes, I do.”

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