Ingram elevated to BRDC SuperStars elite on eve of BTCC bow


Tom Ingram’s stellar start to 2014 continues to go from strength-to-strength, as only a fortnight after confirming plans to compete in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) with Speedworks Motorsport this season, the gifted High Wycombe ace has been appointed a British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar.

The venerable BRDC is one of the most esteemed and well-recognised institutions in the sport, and with members of the ilk of erstwhile F1 World Champions Sir Jackie Stewart, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and John Surtees as well as fellow British motor racing legends like Sir Stirling Moss, its spheres of influence reach far and wide.

The brainchild of the club’s former president, 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill, the BRDC’s elite SuperStars scheme is a focussed and dedicated driver development programme that is unique in its field and unites the indisputable crème de la crème of Britain’s young racing crop.

With a stated objective of nurturing and getting the very best out of the country’s future motorsport heroes, the SuperStars structure offers invaluable assistance in terms of physical training, mental coaching, career guidance workshops, marketing seminars, media and sponsorship advice, state-of-the-art resources and team-building and networking opportunities – not to mention 24-hour support and tuition from the BRDC’s established members.

Only 15 drivers will benefit from this distinguished status in 2014 – and just four of them are new intakes. That statistic is far from lost on Ingram, who is well aware of the magnitude of his promotion to the blue riband initiative – now in its seventh year of existence – as he readies himself to make his debut in the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised BTCC, a championship that is commonly regarded as the world’s premier tin-top series.

“What an amazing couple of weeks!” enthused the SKYCIG and Hansford Sensors-backed KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member. “It is a tremendous accolade and honour to be selected as a BRDC SuperStar. The BRDC is such a prestigious and exclusive club, and having been one of its Rising Stars since 2011, I feel immensely proud to have been promoted another step up the ladder towards full membership.

“There are so many advantages to being part of the SuperStars programme, and having access to senior BRDC members’ wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise is a phenomenal boost in what will be a very important season for me. Although I have already come a long way since graduating from karting into cars, in joining the BTCC grid, everything is going to really rev up a gear now. It’s a new and massively exciting challenge, and I genuinely cannot wait!”

“Tom has achieved a considerable degree of success over a short period of time, and it was a combination of his talent and his determination to get to the top that brought him to our attention,” explained BRDC SuperStars Director, 1992 BTCC Champion Tim Harvey. “He undoubtedly faces his toughest campaign to-date in 2014, having realised his dream to race in the BTCC and finding himself up against no fewer than seven former champions, but I’m sure the BRDC SuperStars scheme can play a significant role in his progress this year.

“Tom’s programme under the BRDC SuperStars banner will begin almost immediately, with a two-day pre-season training event with Mark Webber at the Porsche Human Performance Centre at Silverstone. He will have available to him free physical fitness sessions, expert advice and workshops and more than anything, he will be able to call upon anybody in the BRDC for help or guidance on any subject – and that truly is something money can’t buy.”

Since agreeing terms to race the Hughes-backed Speedworks Toyota Avensis this year, Ingram has wasted no time at all in getting right down to business, with a successful maiden test outing at Silverstone, the home of the BRDC. The 20-year-old triple Ginetta Champion and ex-British Karting Champion reflected that despite the somewhat inclement conditions, it was an enormously encouraging day.

“It was brilliant to get my first laps in an NGTC touring car under my belt,” he confessed. “It was key to me to get off to a positive start. I had already spent a couple of days getting to know all the Speedworks guys and gaining a general understanding of the car. That was extremely productive, and I felt comfortable in the Avensis very quickly. We got a lot of good running in despite the conditions and left with some interesting ideas. Overall, I came away feeling really pleased.”

“The whole team was very impressed with Tom’s approach to his first test in our NGTC Toyota,” added Speedworks team principal Christian Dick. “He spent a lot of time preparing for it – and that clearly showed. In what can only be described as terrible weather to get your first feel for the notoriously tricky-to-drive NGTC machinery, Tom excelled. He was very relaxed and professional, and never put a foot wrong. I think we’ll have a fantastic season together.”