Ingram digs deep at rain-soaked Snetterton to keep title tilt on-track

  • Former BTCC champion unleashes sensational speed as conditions cause chaos
  • Team Bristol Street Motors star thrills fans with scintillating charge through the field
  • Bucks-born ace stays firmly in touch in hunt for biggest prize in British motorsport
Not for the first time this season, the weather threw competitors a curveball in the British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton last weekend (25-26 May), obliging Tom Ingram to draw upon all of his renowned racecraft and experience to come away with a pair of strong top six finishes that keep him solidly in contention for the coveted drivers’ crown.

Team Bristol Street Motors arrived at Snetterton having won three of the opening six races of the 2024 campaign in the UK’s premier motor racing series – with Ingram claiming two of them – but its stable of Hyundai i30N coupés uncharacteristically struggled for speed in a damp qualifying session. Missing out on advancing to Q2 by a scant 19 thousandths-of-a-second, the 2022 champion found himself restricted to 13th on the starting grid amongst the 21 high-calibre protagonists for the curtain-raising contest.

Never one to lie down without a fight, Ingram came out swinging the following day, and in front of the live ITV4 television cameras and a capacity trackside crowd, he rolled up his sleeves and went immediately on the attack. On a greasy track surface and with just three laps’ hybrid deployment available by dint of his championship position, the 30-year-old quickly climbed to eighth before setting his sights on Colin Turkington next up the road.

Trying every which way to prise the door open, Ingram’s persistence finally paid off as he got a good run out of Williams on lap five and drafted past the four-time champion going down the Bentley Straight. He subsequently caught and rapidly overhauled Adam Morgan courtesy of a neat dive up the inside into Riches, with his sixth-place finish making him the biggest mover in the field and fastest lap on the final tour earning him a bonus point for good measure.

Continuing the theme of unpredictable conditions, a torrential thunderstorm delayed the start of race two and turned tyre selection into a lottery. After going to the grid on wets, the EXCELR8 Motorsport star – in company with two of his three chief title rivals – peeled into the pits at the end of the formation lap to switch to slicks.

As the circuit increasingly dried, that decision looked set to pay dividends, but then the heavens unexpectedly re-opened midway through, leaving Ingram with no choice but to tiptoe gingerly around as he focussed primarily on keeping his car out of the barriers. He ultimately took the chequered flag less than a second shy of the points in 16th.

The day’s finale was a similarly mixed-weather affair, with some sections of the track almost dry but others still significantly wet. Opting for slicks again, the talented Bucks-born ace navigated safely through a chaotic first lap to rise to ninth before unleashing prodigious pace to scythe his way further up the order.

By two-thirds’ distance, he was fifth, albeit over four seconds behind a three-way scrap for the runner-up spoils – but after displacing a fading, wet tyre-shod Jake Hill from fourth, he proceeded to post three consecutive fastest laps to wind up just two tenths-of-a-second adrift of the podium. His best effort was more than a full second quicker than anybody else could muster, despite not being on the optimum soft-compound tyres.

Ingram’s crowd-pleasing charge means he will travel next to high-speed Thruxton in Hampshire having maintained third place in the championship standings, 11 points away from the top of the table.

Tom Ingram, Driver, Team Bristol Street Motors, said:

“You’re always going to have good weekends and bad weekends in this series – they come and go – but to concede only one point in the title battle after qualifying further down the field than we had been expecting and making the wrong call on tyres in race two I think represented a very good job in damage limitation.

“Saturday was a tricky day; we just genuinely didn’t have the pace. We calculated our hybrid deficit to be worth about eight tenths-of-a-second per lap and knew it would be pretty effective at Snetterton – particularly down the two long straights – but that didn’t tell the full story. When we bolted the wet tyres on in qualifying, nothing happened; we simply didn’t have any grip and it was really hard to get anything out of the session.

“We went through all the data overnight and tried to come up with a masterplan for Sunday, and the Hyundai came alive on the soft tyres in race one. It felt superb, and we did well to battle through against cars that had more hybrid than us, which put the smile back on my face.

“Race two, by contrast, was scary, unpleasant and basically a little bit rubbish! There was no silver lining to take from it, other than not crashing, but it was great to come away with a good result in race three.

“The conditions were quite sketchy again, because the first two sectors were dry whereas the last one was still very wet and stubbornly remained that way. You’d build up lots of confidence and tyre temperature and be full of bravery around the first two-thirds of the lap and then you’d get to sector three and it was a wild ride, to say the least!

“It felt like such a long day because it required so much mental concentration with the changeable weather and tyre choices to think about and so many permutations to constantly consider. We really had to be on the ball, but I think we learned more from that single day than we did from the first two race weekends this year, so I’m feeling good for Thruxton, where you never know, maybe we’ll even get some consistently dry running if we’re lucky…”

Images: Jakob Ebrey Photography