Ingram aiming to ‘turn the tables’ in quest to reclaim BTCC crown

Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport BMW 330e M Sport

  • Former champion fully focussed on winning back his title in 2024
  • EXCELR8 Motorsport star hails ‘best-ever’ pre-season build-up
  • 30-year-old says team has ‘turned a huge corner’ over the winter
Tom Ingram leaves no doubt about his objective for the forthcoming British Touring Car Championship campaign – he wants to reclaim the biggest prize in UK motorsport, which he first lifted 18 months ago. And he is confident he can do just that.Ingram concluded last season in the country’s premier motor racing series placed second in the standings amongst the 31 high-calibre contenders – his second runner-up finish in the past six years. He has no intention of repeating the feat in 2024.

“My desire to win the title back is greater than it was to win it in the first place,” asserts the Team Bristol Street Motors star, a 27-time race-winner in the BTCC. “It’s natural that you want to win it once, but I don’t think I’d previously appreciated how much you want to get it back after losing it. I used to wonder how drivers kept on coming back for more, but now I understand you are never satisfied with just winning it once.”

Ingram’s title defence in 2023 was by no means a disappointment. He scored more points than in any of his previous nine campaigns in the championship and reached the rostrum 17 times from 30 starts – ascending the highest step at both Snetterton and Donington Park. He was, he acknowledges, ‘the only one to consistently take to fight to Ash [Sutton]’ – and now, he wants to turn the tables.

One of the factors that he identifies as a key issue last year was the team’s lack of representative running over the winter, meaning they were constantly trying to learn ‘on the job’ as the season progressed. Twelve months on, the situation could scarcely be more different.

“The 2023 pre-season period was absolutely shocking for us, with next to no dry track time followed by a predominantly dry season, which left us routinely on the back foot and playing catch-up,” the 30-year-old explains. “This year has been very different. It actually feels like the best pre-season we’ve ever had. We spent three days at Anglesey in amazing weather, which was massively productive. That played a major role in steering our direction and development of the car for the coming season.”

The car he refers to is the EXCELR8 Motorsport-prepared Hyundai i30N, which now benefits from the additional input of tin-top powerhouse Team Dynamics, with whom EXCELR8 has joined forces, relocating premises to share the renowned Midlands-based outfit’s state-of-the-art workshop. Team Dynamics has no fewer than 13 BTCC titles to its name – six Drivers’ crowns and seven Teams’ trophies – and Ingram believes the partnership could prove pivotal to a renewed assault on glory.

“Team Dynamics was the absolute benchmark in the series for many, many years,” reflects the talented Bucks-born ace. “It’s a hugely impressive facility they have, which I have no doubt played a significant role in that success.

“Alongside the move, we’ve had a very busy winter from an engineering perspective. We’ve taken everything right back to basics and have tried to be very strategic, analysing what worked last year and what didn’t. There’s no such thing as a silver bullet in this game, so rather than focussing on any one particular area, we have concentrated on trying to make small improvements across the board. I’m confident that will put us in really good stead once the serious business gets underway.

“The truth of the matter is that we were never far away last year. We were in the mix every weekend and were the only ones to regularly take the fight to Ash and keep him on his toes. It goes without saying that everybody else will have improved too – nobody ever sits still in a championship as tough and competitive as the BTCC – but I believe the steps we have taken with the Hyundai’s chassis over the past few months have yielded real gains, and testing seems to have corroborated that.

“Honestly, it feels like we’ve turned a huge corner and that we’re in a really strong place in every area, and I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been too, both mentally and physically. More than anything, I think we’re all in such a positive headspace right now, because we know we are good enough and quick enough to win the title back, and we are aiming to hit it hard right from the start.

“The key, as ever in the BTCC, will be to be fast and consistent at every circuit. That, fundamentally, is what we need to do. Do I think we can turn the tables on Ash and NAPA Racing? Yes, I do.”

The new campaign will get underway at Donington Park on 27/28 April, with all of the action season-long to be broadcast live and in high-definition on ITV channels and the championship’s TikTok account.

Images: Jakob Ebrey Photography