Ingram promises plenty more to come following Brands top ten hat-trick

Trio of top ten finishes in significantly upgraded Toyota AvensisBRDC SuperStar confident of consistent progression up BTCC grid

Tom Ingram left Brands Hatch in bullish mood on Sunday night, after tallying a trio of superb top ten finishes in the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship curtain-raiser behind the wheel of his new Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis – and, he assures, there is plenty more where that came from.Ingram entered his sophomore campaign in the world’s most fiercely-contested tin-top series with a completely overhauled car at his disposal – the fruit of Speedworks’ high-profile off-season recruitment of Geoff Kingston, one of the BTCC’s most skilled and experienced engineers – but scant testing under his belt.That certainly didn’t hold the talented young Bucks ace back in the first free practice session, as he laid down an early marker by lapping fastest of all amongst the 26 high-calibre contenders – comprising some of the finest touring car protagonists on the planet – to the tune of more than half-a-second.After spending the remainder of practice focussing on race preparation – albeit briefly topping the time charts again too – Ingram proceeded to qualify ninth, scarcely two tenths-of-a-second adrift of the outright benchmark in an extremely closely-matched field.The Hansford Sensors-supported British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar, KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member subsequently fought hard in the opening, ITV4 live-televised encounter, indulging in several wheel-to-wheel duels and taking the chequered flag tenth, very nearly catching fading pole-sitter Andy Priaulx at the line. Indeed, in the closing stages, his was one of the quickest cars on the track.From 12th on the grid in race two – and carrying 9kg of success ballast for his top ten finish – Ingram swiftly advanced to eighth, before hauling himself onto the back of the battle over fifth position. With headlights ablaze, he was clearly intent on gaining further ground, and a pass on the BMW of race one winner Rob Collard allied to a late retirement ahead elevated him to an excellent sixth, right in the wheeltracks of former champion Andrew Jordan and lapping fastest of anybody on the final tour.The result secured the three-time Ginetta Champion and erstwhile British Karting Champion fifth on the grid for the day’s last outing. Despite tackling it with 33kg of success ballast and on the less durable soft tyres, Ingram was competitive throughout, embroiled in a race-long battle over fourth spot and winding up sixth once more to complete a substantial points haul – his equal best in the BTCC – that places him eighth in the overall standings and fourth in the Independents’ Trophy heading next to Donington Park.“We can be really pleased with what we have achieved this weekend,” acknowledged the 21-year-old, last year’s standout rookie and the second-youngest driver in the series. “To leave Brands Hatch with three strong top ten finishes is fantastic, especially after some of the bad luck we suffered in 2014 – and the only damage is the need for a new Toyota badge! It’s a real shot in the arm for everybody in the team; all the Speedworks guys have worked incredibly hard over the winter, and massive credit to them for what they have produced – these results are testament to all their efforts.“Geoff’s input has enabled us to make tremendous progress, and you have to remember that Saturday was effectively just the second time this car has run in anger. That meant FP1 was a leap into the unknown for us – and we ended up quickest! Ok, that probably wasn’t a truly accurate reflection of where we are right now, but what is clear to see is that we have made a genuine step forward. The car felt strong throughout and every change we made seemed to yield the desired effect.“The biggest improvement is undoubtedly in its tyre management. Last year’s car tended to fade later on in races as the performance dropped off, which left us a bit of a sitting duck and caused us to drop back down the order – whereas at Brands, I was still able to set fast times right towards the end and with a lot of laps on the board, even on the softer compound and with weight in the car in race three. That was a real test, and the new Avensis passed it with flying colours. I can’t tell you how good it is to have a car I can actually race with for the full duration.“We’ve come away with plenty of valuable data to go through to further refine the car, and that should allow us to go to Donington in a much stronger position than we were in arriving at Brands. Admittedly, I’ll be entering a race weekend carrying success ballast for the first time, but that’s a very nice problem to have – it proves we’re doing something right!“There are plenty of reasons for encouragement, and our performance gives us a lot of confidence going forward. This is a brand new car that is only at the very beginning of its development curve and potential – there is so much more pace still to unlock. Considering we went into the weekend with minimal testing behind us, just think what we’ll be able to do once we’ve had a bit more track time... Believe me, this is merely the start!”


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