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Speedworks scoop Independent hat-trick as Ingram shines on team's home turf Speedworks Motorsport produced a sparkling performance on home soil as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship stopped off at Oulton Park last weekend (4/5 June), with Tom Ingram clinching a popular clean sweep of Independents’ Trophy triumphs. 2016 has already been a milestone campaign for Speedworks in the ITV4 live-televised, all-action BTCC – commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-disputed tin-top series – with Ingram dominating the Brands Hatch curtain-raiser to snare his and the team’s breakthrough victory. That outstanding raw pace was in evidence once again at Oulton as the talented young Bucks ace led the way in both free practice sessions behind the wheel of the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit’s #80 Toyota Avensis. His efforts to take a third pole position of the season in qualifying were stymied by brake problems and traffic, but Ingram still wound up an eminently respectable fourth out of the 32 high-calibre contenders – some of the finest touring car protagonists on the planet – a scant 0.078 seconds adrift of the top spot in an incredibly close session. His theoretical fastest lap based on his three best sectors would comfortably have secured him the top spot on the starting grid. A wheelspin-afflicted getaway in the opener relegated the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star to seventh, and Oulton is notoriously one of the toughest circuits on the calendar for overtaking. By the time he had found a way past Ashley Sutton, fifth-placed Daniel Lloyd was almost five seconds up the road with just three laps remaining. Refusing to give up, Ingram reeled his adversary in and by dint of a better exit from the last corner, he out-dragged Lloyd on the run to the chequered flag. Despite having to cope with 39kg of success ballast and fuel pressure issues that left him slightly down-on-power, the Hansford Sensors and RHA-supported KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member matched that result in the day’s second contest, finishing right on the heels of defending champion Gordon Shedden. In front of a capacity crowd, Ingram began the final encounter from the second row of the reversed grid. On soft tyres and with 39kg of ballast on-board again, he looked set to gain ground at the start before finding himself squeezed on the inside line and settling into third place. As the race progressed, the weight and tyre degradation inevitably took their toll and the three-time Ginetta Champion and former British Karting Champion came under intense pressure from a gaggle of rivals on the more durable medium-compound rubber. Visibly struggling for grip and with bodywork flailing from contact, he gave a defensive masterclass to keep his pursuers at bay for 14 of the 15 laps, only to ultimately be forced to concede as he missed out on the podium by less than a tenth-of-a-second. Nonetheless, the result still completed a full house of Independent victories – extending Ingram’s 2016 total to four, more than anybody else – and equalled the 22-year-old’s best-ever BTCC points tally as he climbed into the top ten in the overall Drivers’ standings and leapt from seventh to fourth amongst the 21 Independent entries. Speedworks has similarly advanced – to seventh out of 19 in the Teams’ classification and from fifth to third in the Independents’ Trophy. “Oulton is our biggest weekend of the year without a doubt,” acknowledged Team Principal Christian Dick. “It’s obviously very close to home for us and we always receive a tremendous amount of support from friends, family, sponsors and fans, so it goes without saying that we were all particularly keen to put on a good performance and I think we delivered. “If you look at the results, it was almost like there were two different classes – one for front wheel-drive machinery and one for rear wheel-drive. Eight of the nine podium places over the three races were filled by drivers of rear wheel-drive cars, and we were the second of the 24 front wheel-drive competitors across the line every time. “We’ve been reiterating since the start of the season that the primary objective is to put a whole weekend together and score three strong points finishes, and that’s exactly what we did. We finally found the consistency that’s been lacking until now, took the fight to the big boys again and came away with three Independent wins and having moved up the championship table. “The Avensis was on-form and Tom barely put a foot wrong; it was a stellar showing all-round, which is testament to the tireless hard work put in by all the Speedworks guys. There were a few questions hanging over us going into the weekend, but I think we successfully silenced the doubters – and in some style!” “I’m really chuffed,” echoed Ingram. “I think we did a cracking job. We were always going to struggle a bit against the rear wheel-drive boys at Oulton and it didn’t quite come together in qualifying, which was partly me not hooking all the sectors up and partly due to traffic. Although our perfect lap would have put us on pole, if I’m being honest, I’m not sure we had the speed to stay there in Sunday’s hotter conditions. “I gave myself a mountain to scale in race one after the start. We had a real cat-and-mouse scrap with Sutton and then it was great to pip Lloyd at the flag – when we began the last lap two seconds behind, I never thought that would be possible. “Notwithstanding the fuel pressure problem, I was catching Shedden towards the end of race two but knowing how important it was to leave Oulton with a good points haul, it wasn’t worth risking any rash manoeuvres. I was content to settle for fifth again, and to be the second-quickest front wheel-drive car on both occasions was really satisfying. “The third race was a bit livelier. We knew the soft tyres would drop off towards the end, but we hung on for as long as we could and very nearly made it. I fought as hard as possible and whilst it would have been nice to come away with an outright podium, I was more than happy to take another top five finish. We ran up at the sharp end all weekend and achieved three really strong results entirely on merit – and that’s precisely the kind of performance we’ve been targeting all season.”