Double Thruxton victory fires Ingram firmly into title contention
Bucks-born ace showcases sublime car control for back-to-back wins
Toyota Corolla tames Britain’s fastest circuit in spectacular style
Cheshire-based Speedworks add to global Toyota Gazoo Racing success
Team targeting more silverware at Silverstone in just a few days’ time
Heading to Thruxton last weekend (19/20 September), Tom Ingram had vowed to take his first win of the 2020 British Touring Car Championship campaign. Yesterday, he was as good as his word and then some, as a commanding double victory vaulted the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters star firmly into contention for the biggest prize in national motorsport.
Thruxton is the fastest circuit in the country and one at which Ingram has always excelled, as the scene of both his maiden podium finish in car racing and his breakthrough triumph. In characteristically committed style, he duly hustled his Speedworks Motorsport-run Toyota Corolla to second on the grid amongst the 27 high-calibre protagonists in qualifying, less than a tenth-of-a-second shy of the top spot.
That, however, did not tell the full story, as Ingram’s best effort was set despite a wild grassy moment on the exit of Church – the quickest and ballsiest corner in British motorsport – that almost certainly cost him pole position.
Undeterred, the Bucks-born ace proceeded to out-drag pole-sitter Dan Cammish away from the lights in the curtain-raiser to sweep around the outside into the lead. In front of the live ITV2 television cameras, the pair then engaged in an enthralling cat-and-mouse duel, with their relentless pace propelling them well clear of the chasing pack.
In a supremely composed performance, Ingram soaked up the intense pressure to secure an overdue first win of the season, a 14th career victory in the UK’s premier motor racing series and an additional point for posting the fastest lap – a new lap record, in fact.
Despite the success ballast aboard the Corolla increasing from 30kg to 60kg, race two was almost a carbon copy. Belying the additional weight, the Toyota leapt off the line like a scalded cat and was 1.5s in front by the end of the opening tour.
Although Cammish once again closed in and even darted out of the slipstream going onto the last lap, the series’ two-time Independents’ Champion boldly held his nerve and held his ground. His reward was another sublime lights-to-flag triumph that cemented the second double-top of his burgeoning BTCC career – on a milestone day that saw Toyota Gazoo Racing similarly reach the top step of the rostrum in Turkey’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship and the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours.
And he wasn’t done yet. From eighth on the partially-reversed grid in the finale, Ingram went immediately on the attack, with a brave move around the outside of the Complex gaining him three spots in one fell swoop. Still carrying 60kg of ballast, he remained in the podium battle throughout and fifth place at the chequered flag completed his best-ever points haul – as well as the highest total of the weekend.
His outstanding results at Thruxton have elevated the 27-year-old from sixth to third in the Drivers’ Championship and slashed his deficit to the summit of the standings from 59 points to just 32 heading next to Silverstone (26/27 September), a circuit at which he has won in each of the last four years and where 12 months ago, he achieved his first BTCC double-top with the Corolla. Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters occupies sixth position in the Teams’ table. Christian Dick, Team Principal, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters, said:
“Well, that was quite a weekend! Above all, I think it demonstrated how much of a step forward we’ve made with the Corolla since last year, and every single member of this team is to be congratulated for the role they have played in that. We were on double duty with British GT simultaneously taking place at Donington Park, but the entire Speedworks crew put in a phenomenal effort and these two race wins are their reward. And we’re only just getting started...
“We said going into the weekend that Thruxton would highlight which cars have the strongest chassis in the BTCC, and Tom’s performance should leave nobody in any doubt that even in only its second season in the championship, the Corolla is right up there with the very best.
“It was always our plan to focus closely on qualifying, because – in the absence of the different tyre compounds this year – that seems to be the key now there are fewer opportunities to make up for a bad grid position. That has hurt us elsewhere this season, but we got it spot-on at Thruxton and reaped the benefits.
“Both races one and two were brilliantly controlled drives in which Tom had an answer for everything Cammish threw at him. We had the pace to take another podium in race three, although fifth place was still an excellent result that capped a superb weekend for the Toyota Gazoo Racing family globally, with victories in the WRC and at Le Mans too. It was fantastic to be a part of that success.
“Going to Silverstone, we need to manage expectations a bit as we’ll be slightly heavier for qualifying and race one, but I think we still have a lot of reasons to feel very confident based on last year’s results there and our Thruxton form. Tom said when he left the track yesterday that he’s ready to go racing again right now – and so are we!”
Tom Ingram, Driver, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters, said:
“That was absolutely mega – we’ll definitely take more weekends like that! It was the quickest we’ve been round Thruxton with this car by a country mile, which is testament to 12 months of development and a lot of improvements. Full credit to all the guys and girls at Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters for putting together one hell of a package!
“At Thruxton, you’re just so close to the limit the whole way round the circuit – beyond it at times – and I was really hanging onto the car in qualifying. The Corolla felt magnificent, which gave me the confidence I needed to properly push and my best lap was all-out and a bit more besides. When we’d been for our track walk the previous evening, I’d noticed the grass was a little long round the back, so I thought I’d trim it down a touch for them...
“Joking aside, though, I was really happy with our performance and as it turned out, pole didn’t actually matter in the end. I knew it was going to be difficult to beat Dan [Cammish] on sheer pace, so the key was to secure track position by getting him off the line and that’s exactly what we did.
“Dan certainly piled on the pressure in the first two races. I would briefly shake him off, but then all of a sudden, he’d be right back on me again and I knew I couldn’t afford a single slip or he would be past. He was particularly strong through the final sector of the lap, which is where the best overtaking opportunity is at Thruxton. At the same time, though, there’s a lot of respect between us and I knew he wasn’t going to take any major risks or do anything stupid.
“I felt like we were in the power seat and I was well-chuffed to take our first win of the year. To then follow that up with another victory in race two was just awesome. I was mindful that we had a lot of weight on-board which would work the tyres harder and that Dan would be desperate to get one back over me after race one, but the Corolla felt great again and we were able to fend him off throughout.
“In race three, I was targeting a top five finish and the strategy was always to be brave on the opening lap, which obviously paid off nicely. After that, I showed [Ash] Sutton my nose on a few occasions just to remind him that I was there, but at the same time, I had to be careful because it was clear he was in a feisty mood and it was more important to bag the points for fifth than throw it all away challenging for fourth.
“It really feels like we’re beginning to get some momentum flowing, which is very exciting, and next, we go to what is arguably our strongest track on the calendar. We’ve always performed well at Silverstone, and the progress we’ve achieved with the Corolla over the past 12 months should make us even quicker this time round. It felt a bit like the championship was turning into a two-horse race before Thruxton and that people were beginning to write us off, but we’ve definitely joined the party now!”