Speedworks off to ‘superb start’ as BTCC roars back into life at Brands Hatch

28-Apr-2014

Speedworks Motorsport enjoyed a stellar start to the 2014 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) with a top six qualifying performance and a double top ten finish in the season curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch – and the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit insists there is ‘plenty more to come’.

Having made its BTCC debut in 2011, this year represents Speedworks’ fourth consecutive campaign in the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised championship – commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series.

With highly-rated young rookie Tom Ingram behind the wheel of its tried-and-tested, Hughes Safety Showers-backed Toyota Avensis, the team headed to Brands Hatch’s short Indy layout quietly confident about its prospects for success – but what it achieved exceeded all expectations.

After wisely using the two practice sessions to put mileage on the Avensis’ new engine and other updates, 20-year-old Ingram – three times a Ginetta Champion and a former British Karting Champion – proceeded to qualify an outstanding sixth in the 30-car field, with his extraordinary lap time beaten only by the BTCC’s five most recent title-holders and proving faster than two further champions and six race-winners.

In front of tens of thousands of trackside spectators, the KX Akademy graduate, British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar and MSA Academy member consolidated his eye-catching form with a brace of top ten finishes – ninth in race one and eighth in race two, maturely holding his own amongst the lead pack throughout – and looked odds-on to make it a hat-trick in race three until he was assaulted from behind by Alain Menu.

Speedworks team principal Christian Dick reflects that notwithstanding the disappointing ending, the overriding tone of the weekend was extremely positive, vindicating the Avensis’ raw pace and potential, leaving the squad a promising eighth in the teams’ championship and setting the scene for what he hopes will be an excellent season ahead.

“The target we set ourselves was to finish all three races,” he explained. “Obviously what happened in race three scuppered that objective, but there were far too many highs to allow that to detract from such a superb weekend for Tom and the whole team.

“We were fairly certain that we would be able to get into the top 15 and score some points – and hopeful that we might even sneak into the top ten – but for Tom to qualify as high as sixth was just amazing and blew everybody away. That really raised some eyebrows and embarrassed some of the more established drivers.

“His racecraft was every bit as impressive, too, and to come away with two top ten finishes and some early points in the bag was a great start and a fantastic result for everybody in the team. Tom received a very thorough introduction to BTCC racing and just how harsh it can be in race three, but he was running well again, the car was strong and a third straight top ten finish was well on the cards until he got taken out.

“All said, though, I’m made up. I had people from right the way down the pit-lane coming up to tell me how well Tom drove, and it was great for the boys to see that all the hard work they put in over the winter has paid off. We’ve learned a lot together, we’ll have the car turned around in no time and in the next round at Donington Park, we will be even stronger. We know there is plenty more to come from the car yet. It’s exciting times.”

“It was tremendously encouraging to be so close to the front on my BTCC debut,” added Ingram, who along with his Speedworks Toyota Avensis, featured on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway on ITV1 ahead of race day. “We showed we’ve got the pace to be competitive and to battle against the big boys, and we could honestly never have forecast that coming into the weekend. We’ve laid down a marker for the future – and we’re only going to get better from here.”

For more information about Speedworks Motorsport, visit www.speedworksmotorsport.com, http://www.facebook.com/SpeedworksMS and http://twitter.com/SpeedworksMS