‘Confident’ Speedworks Targeting Brands Hatch Top Ten
Speedworks Motorsport is heading into its fourth season in the Dunlop
MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) quietly confident about its
prospects for success, with a dynamic new driver and a car that it knows
better than ever.
Speedworks made BTCC headlines in 2011 as one of the first teams to
compete with a ‘Next Generation Touring Car’ in the shape of its Hughes
Safety Showers-backed Toyota Avensis.
The Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit’s maiden campaign in the immensely
popular, ITV4 live-televised championship – commonly regarded as the
world’s premier and most fiercely-contested tin-top series – yielded
17th position in the teams’ standings and 15th in the independents’
title chase. There followed a significant improvement to tenth and sixth
respectively in 2012 and seventh and fifth in 2013, by which stage
Speedworks had firmly established itself as a regular top ten finisher
With no fewer than seven former champions, 13 race-winners and 11 of the
world’s largest car manufacturers all lining up on the starting grid –
to say nothing of free-to-air TV coverage and hundreds of thousands of
trackside spectators – the BTCC is enjoying its highest-ever profile in
2014 and looks set to deliver the most competitive and entertaining
season in its long and illustrious history.
Having recruited three-time Ginetta Champion and erstwhile British
Karting Champion Tom Ingram to drive its trusty Avensis over the
forthcoming campaign, Speedworks has been busy lapping up the testing
miles in recent weeks at Silverstone, Oulton Park, Brands Hatch and
Donington Park – the latter the scene of the championship’s annual Media
There, KX Akademy graduate, British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC)
SuperStar and MSA Academy member Ingram impressed by placing inside the
top ten on the final timesheets and claiming leading rookie honours as
he outpaced multiple European touring car champion Fabrizio Giovanardi
for good measure. With preparations almost complete, Speedworks team
principal Christian Dick is hopeful of a solid start in the opening
round at Brands Hatch this weekend (March 29/30).
“We’ve had an extremely positive and encouraging off-season,” he
affirmed. “Obviously you always want more track time to be able to test,
develop and refine the car, but I’m confident we’ve made the very best
use of the resources we have available to us and that we’ve taken a
sizeable step forward since the end of last year. As a team, we’re
working together more efficiently than ever.
“The BTCC is a tremendous challenge, and I have to say that this is the
first time we’ve gone into the season really in control of everything.
Previously, it’s always been a bit like we’ve been hanging onto the back
of a high-speed freight train – whereas this year, it feels like we are
in the driving seat.
“This is our fourth consecutive season running the Avensis, and we’ve
got a really good grasp of it now. We had a few difficulties in 2013
when although it was fast, it could also be a bit of a handful at times,
but we’ve ironed those little issues out over the winter and it seems
to be a much stronger and more consistent package, which will hopefully
ease Tom’s learning curve.
“I actually have to keep reminding myself that Tom is only 20 – he has
such a mature head on his young shoulders. He is a real breath of fresh
air and an absolute joy to work with. He settled into the team and got
to grips with the Avensis incredibly quickly. His first test in the car
was at Silverstone in what can only be described as horrendous
conditions; there was a lot of standing water on the track, yet he never
put so much as a wheel out-of-place. Our first dry running was at
Oulton Park, and Tom was rapidly on the pace.
“It’s always difficult to know at Media Day who is running what level of
boost or ballast and who is on new tyres or old – but what we do know
is that we certainly didn’t put new tyres on, there’s a little bit of
weight to come out of the car and we still had the older-spec engine in.
We have plenty up our sleeve yet to look forward to.
“That said, I’m mindful of not putting either Tom or the boys under too
much pressure. The primary objective for Brands Hatch will be to stay
out-of-trouble and notch up three race finishes, especially with 31 cars
on such a short circuit and at the start of a season that has seen so
much hype and anticipation. Points are obviously the goal, and if we can
kick off proceedings with a top ten or two, that would be fantastic.
“If we have a clean run and do everything right, I think we’ve got a
chance of achieving that – and then we can shift our sights a little bit
higher as the year progresses, especially with the developments still
to bring to the car and as Tom increasingly finds his feet in the
championship. By mid-season, I would hope we can be regular top ten
contenders again – and with the reversed grid format for the final race
of the weekend, who’s to say we can’t start targeting our first BTCC
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