- Bucks-born ace ready to renew battle in UK’s premier motor racing series
- Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 star set the pace in pre-season test
- 29-year-old says ‘feeling is good’ ahead of Donington Park curtain-raiser
Just over six months ago, Tom Ingram accomplished a lifelong dream when he won the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch. In less than a week’s time, he will begin his bid to win it again – and after topping the timesheets during the official pre-season test, he says his ‘confidence is high’.
Ingram has been a consistent contender for the biggest prize in British motorsport since only his fourth campaign in the BTCC in 2017, twice lifting the Independents’ laurels and racing to 19 outright victories prior to last year. Competing for Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8, he added a further six triumphs to his overall tally in 2022, clinching the crown in style with a dominant performance in the season finale on Brands Hatch’s legendary ‘GP’ loop.
The 29-year-old Bucks-born ace returned to the scene of that career-making success last week for the BTCC’s annual Season Launch, where he laid down the gauntlet to his rivals by posting the fastest lap amongst the 24 high-calibre protagonists who took to the track around the famous Kent circuit’s shorter ‘Indy’ layout.
Ingram is now preparing to head to Donington Park for the curtain-raising contest this weekend (22/23 April). Last year, he made history in winning the very first race of the BTCC’s hybrid era at the Leicestershire venue behind the wheel of his Hyundai i30N, quickly getting to grips with the series’ pioneering new technology as he started as he meant to go on.
There will be additional challenges in 2023, from enhancements to the hybrid system deployment to the re-introduction of the Goodyear ‘option’ tyre and the expansion of the top ten qualifying ‘showdown’ to five of the ten events. The defending champion – who has the honour of carrying the coveted #1 on his car for the first time in the BTCC – predicts that the rule changes will make consistency more difficult to achieve than before, but also more important.
Every moment of the doorhandle-to-doorhandle action season-long will be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV channels.
Tom Ingram, Driver, Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8, said:
“I’m excited for the year ahead and looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Winning the championship definitely changes your perspective a bit. It was an incredible moment and naturally I want to do it again, but I’m going into the new season with a slightly different mindset and outlook. Of course there’s still pressure – it’s the BTCC, there’s always pressure – but it’s a different kind of pressure now and having proved that I can do it, I feel more relaxed.
“We finished last season with a super-fast car at Brands GP, and in many ways, that made it difficult to know exactly what to do over the winter, because the package we had was clearly very strong. We didn’t want to deviate too much from that, but equally, we knew we couldn’t stand still as then we would be overtaken. We had to keep moving forwards and try to make what we had even better, so there’s been a big development push and a lot of work carried out back at base at EXCELR8 HQ.
“It’s been a very busy and productive few months, and I think we’re in good shape. Testing has been a bit disjointed due to the constantly changing weather, but everybody is in the same boat in that respect. I’ve got to say, it honestly wasn’t our goal to end up fastest in the group test, and you can’t read anything into those lap times; we all know how unpredictable the BTCC can be, so I’m remaining level-headed and let’s see how the first race weekend goes.
“So many elements need to align to win this championship. You need to be in the right car at the right time, on the right tyre at the right time, make the right calls at the right time, have the right people around you and obviously, you also need to have a bit of luck over the course of the season. There are so many things that can go right or wrong and pieces of the puzzle that need to slot into place – it’s never simply a case of ‘fastest driver in fastest car wins’.
“I think the return of the ‘option’ tyre and having the top ten qualifying showdown at more events will add a different dynamic and some extra drama and inconsistency into the mix, and I’m ready to get cracking. I enjoy the challenge of Donington Park and obviously have good memories from last season. I want to put some decent points on the board there, and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to do that. The BTCC is so competitive that it’s a constant battle as everybody strives to improve, but the feeling is good and the confidence is high, so bring it on!”