Speedworks Motorsport has firmly established itself as a consistent front-runner and top ten contender over the opening three rounds of the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) – and with an early-season break now ahead of Oulton Park, the team is bidding to rev things up another notch once the action resumes on home turf in June.
With standout rookie Tom Ingram behind the wheel of its Hughes Safety Showers backed Toyota Avensis, Speedworks has tallied seven points-scoring finishes from nine races to-date – four of them inside the top ten.In a championship widely regarded as the world’s most fiercely-disputed tin-top series, that is no mean feat – particularly when it is considered that the current 31-strong BTCC grid is arguably the most competitive of all time, including as it does seven former champions and 13 race-winners.
Aside from Ingram’s impressive racecraft, even more eye-catching has been the KX Akademy graduate, British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar and MSA Academy member’s scintillating qualifying form, lining up an excellent sixth in the Brands Hatch curtain-raiser and improving to fifth last time out at super-fast Thruxton – a sure sign of the Avensis’ inherent pace and potential.
His results have placed the triple Ginetta Champion and former British Karting Champion 13th in the drivers’ table – ahead of two-time BTCC title-winner and tin-top legend Alain Menu and Jenson Button-beating ex-British F3 Champion Marc Hynes, no less. Speedworks sits ninth in the teams’ standings amongst the 21 protagonists and seventh in the Independents’ Trophy.
Testing and data analysis are on the agenda before Oulton Park to try to refine the car in race trim – the Avensis’ present Achilles’ heel – and identify why Sunday afternoons have thus far fallen slightly short of the scene-stealing one-lap pace evinced in quahttp://www.speedworksmotorsport.co.uk/Admin/Announcements_Details.aspx?AnnouncementID=-1lifying. Christian Dick – team principal of the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit – is very confident that the best is yet to come.
“We can’t really complain, can we?” he mused of the start to Speedworks’ fourth BTCC campaign. “Tom has shown he is extremely capable. You’ve got to remember that he is just 20-years-old and this is his first season in the premier tin-top championship in the world, but he is proving to be a very quick learner.
“To have posted two top six qualifying positions out of three is outstanding, and demonstrates the progress we’ve made with the Avensis over the winter. Nobody had any ballast on-board in the first round of the year, so to be within a couple of tenths-of-a-second of pole position at Brands Hatch was staggering – especially when you think that our deal with Tom came together fairly late and that consequently, we didn’t have the opportunity to get much pre-season testing under our belts.
“The races have gone pretty well, too, although we did leave Thruxton feeling frustrated; yes, we came away with three sets of points, but when you’ve shown you’ve got the pace to run fifth, your expectations are quite naturally raised. That said, to be disappointed with three points-scoring finishes is an encouraging sign in itself and underlines just how far the bar has been raised and how much of a step forward we have taken since the end of last year.
“The goalposts have shifted, and we’re now secretly hoping we can come away from race weekends having snuck a podium – and once we achieve that, we can work towards trying to win our first race in the BTCC. I’m very positive about everything we’ve got in the pipeline, and we’re obviously particularly keen to do well at Oulton Park, our local circuit. We’ve always received strong support there from sponsors, family and friends, and we’re eager to repay that support with our performance on-track.
“The BTCC is so competitive right now that if you’re not at absolutely 100 per cent, you’re not going to get results and as a team, we still need to string everything together this year – but once we do, I think we will have some blinding weekends...”