Pole, podiums and plenty of points for fired-up Ingram at UK’s fastest track

  • Former champion produces scintillating turn-of-speed in Hampshire
  • Bucks-born ace consummately tames Thruxton’s fearsome challenge
  • EXCELR8 star shines on Bristol Street Motors’ centenary weekend

Tom Ingram has always enjoyed a close affinity with Thruxton. The high-speed Hampshire track was the scene of his first car racing podium and first win over a decade ago, and last weekend there in the British Touring Car Championship (8-9 June), he added a couple more trophies to his ever-growing collection.

Sporting the number 100 on his Hyundai i30N to celebrate the centenary of team partner Bristol Street Motors, Ingram served notice of his intent by setting the pace in the second free practice session amongst the 20 high-calibre protagonists.

He remained firmly up at the sharp end in qualifying, belying his limited hybrid allocation – the third-lowest in the field, by dint of his championship position – with a characteristically committed effort as he flung his car around the fastest circuit in the country with brio. His reward was an eighth career pole in the UK’s premier motor racing series by the margin of more than a quarter-of-a-second.

That made the talented Bucks-born ace the BTCC’s first double pole-sitter of 2024, but a sluggish getaway in the curtain-raising contest – which marked another milestone as his 100th race for EXCELR8 Motorsport – dropped him to fifth.

He rapidly recovered fourth from Dan Rowbottom and exploited one of his three laps of hybrid deployment to draw alongside championship leader Ash Sutton on the run towards the chicane approaching mid-distance, only to find the door slammed firmly shut. With the leading quartet proving to be evenly-matched, the order thereafter remained unchanged all the way to the chequered flag.

Fired-up by that disappointment, from fourth on the grid for race two in front of the live ITV4 television cameras, Ingram was determined to make amends. After relieving Dan Cammish of third at the end of the opening tour, he immediately set off in pursuit of the top two as the fastest four drivers engaged in another no holds-barred battle.

Dancing his Hyundai around the 2.37-mile circuit, he snatched second from Sutton on lap five and then wasted no time at all in zeroing in on race one winner Jake Hill, thrilling the enthusiastic trackside audience as he palpably pushed right to the ragged edge.

Just three laps later, the 2022 champion produced a stunning pass by braving it out on the wide line at Church – one of the quickest and most daunting corners in the country – to grab the undercut on the exit and with it first place. Having judiciously saved half of his hybrid allowance until later on, he proceeded to pull away by more than two-and-a-half seconds to seal his third victory of the campaign and the 30th of his BTCC career.

Unfortunately, there was subsequently a sting in the tail as Ingram was deemed by officials to have gained an advantage by going off-track in his duel with Cammish, relegating him to third – but he would channel his frustration into another crowd-pleasing charge in the day’s finale.

From eighth on the partially-reversed grid, the Team Bristol Street Motors star toughed it out to get the better of title rival Jake Hill at the Complex before pulling off passes on Árón Taylor-Smith and Josh Cook – the latter by virtue of boldly holding his nerve around the outside of the chicane.

Following a short safety car intervention to help clear up a stricken car, Ingram executed similar overtakes on BMW duo Colin Turkington and Adam Morgan, leaving his braking as late as he dared to successfully make the moves stick and ascend the rostrum for the second consecutive race courtesy of a fighting third-place finish. His gritty performance keeps the 30-year-old third in the championship standings heading next to Oulton Park in Cheshire on 22-23 June, just 14 points shy of the summit and very much in the hunt.

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

“I felt confident and very chilled going into the weekend – it’s always one of my favourites – and the Hyundai was superb right from the get-go. All credit to the team for putting together one hell of a car this season; it was really ‘alive’ and on its toes and an absolute pleasure to drive.

“Thruxton always feels like the biggest qualifying session of the year – it’s lively, on-the-edge and just plain sketchy and the one that I think we all look forward to and dread in equal measure. You simply have to tighten your belts and hang on! Not only that, but with the way the new qualifying format works, you have to get the job done three times, without putting a wheel off or exceeding track limits. That’s a big challenge, but everything felt really strong and I was thrilled to come out on top.

“That was obviously the perfect way to begin our landmark weekend, but I then messed up the start in race one – I take full responsibility for that – and at Thruxton, track position is absolutely key. It’s super-difficult to overtake there due to the ‘aero wash’ when you’re following another car, which creates a lot of turbulence and when you hit it, it’s just horrible. Through the high-speed corners out the back of the lap, it feels like somebody has lifted your front wheels off the ground.

“I was so pleased to bounce back with the win in race two until it got taken away from us. I have to say, the incident looked very different on TV to how it did from inside the car. Dan [Cammish] and I were side-by-side at a difficult part of the lap, and ultimately, somebody has to yield – otherwise, there will be a crash. I jumped the chicane as I believed that was the safest option rather than making contact and firing us both off, but the stewards clearly disagreed. You live and learn…

“For race three, we had to put that disappointment behind us and move on. Thruxton is never easy at the best of times, let alone when you’re caught up in the heat of battle and trying to monitor the tyres, keep an eye on the brakes and figure out when is best to use your hybrid – there’s a lot going on inside the cockpit – so it was brilliant to come through to the podium again with just a single lap’s deployment.

“Overall, it was a really strong weekend. We gave away a few points that we probably shouldn’t have so there were certainly some mixed emotions, but considering how the hybrid allocation works, I don’t think leading the championship is necessarily the way to go at the moment – especially heading to Oulton Park, where it will likely have a big effect.

“I don’t believe we’re in a bad position at all right now. Despite everybody’s ups-and-downs at Thruxton, the championship situation hasn’t actually changed very much and we’re so tight on points that it can all turn around very quickly. So as long as we stay close, that’s what matters.”