Tom Ingram showcased his front-running pace and overtaking prowess as the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship called in at Oulton Park, battling hard to secure a well-deserved trio of points-scoring finishes around Speedworks Motorsport’s home circuit.
Ingram impressed from the outset in Cheshire, lapping second-fastest behind only two-time BTCC Champion Jason Plato in the opening practice session and fourth-quickest in the next.
From there, hopes were high for qualifying, and the talented young Bucks ace lined up ninth on the grid for race one out of the 28 contenders.
In front of ITV4’s live television cameras and tens of thousands of trackside spectators, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar made an excellent getaway in the first encounter, but with nowhere to go as the field concertinaed up entering Turn One, he had to slot back into position. Thereafter, he settled into a multi-car tussle over fifth – needing to attack and defend all at once – and eighth place represented a strong points haul.
Ingram was, however, unable to set a good lap time for the race two grid, leaving him down in 15th and with a mountain to climb, but the 21-year-old made another bright start on his way to 11th.
In the third and final outing, Ingram made up some early ground by passing Jeff Smith cleanly into the Knickerbrook Chicane, only to be tagged by his rival on the exit, sending him sideways and down to 13th.
Lapping a superb third-quickest as he scythed his way back through – and posting the fastest first sector of the race outright – the Hansford Sensors-supported KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member hassled multiple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx for a number of laps as he rejoined the leading pack before storming to ninth place.
That consolidated his 12th position in the overall standings and fifth in the Independents’ Trophy heading next to Croft.
“Oulton Park is a circuit I’ve always enjoyed, and I was really looking forward to the weekend,” acknowledged Ingram, who is the second-youngest competitor in the field.
“It’s a proper, demanding drivers’ track and being Speedworks’ home circuit, we always get a strong turnout in terms of friends, family and sponsors. That means there’s an extra incentive to put on a good show for all the boys in the team that work so hard and everybody that comes along to support us.
“Pre-event testing put us in an upbeat mood; we were confident we had made a step forward from Thruxton, and practice confirmed that – to lap second and fourth-quickest was mega. Unfortunately, we didn’t convert it in qualifying and I hold my hand up to that – Oulton is a tricky circuit to really hook up the whole lap perfectly, and I didn’t put my three best sectors together at the same time. Our grid position didn’t reflect our true pace, and left us slightly on the back foot given how difficult overtaking is round there.
“I got a great start in race one but was squeezed on the run to the first corner, and after that, it was all a bit of a procession really – just follow-my-leader. Eighth was a very solid result, but being stuck in the pack made it nigh-on impossible to get enough clear air to set a decent lap time for the race two grid, which is why we ended up where we did.
“We struggled for speed in the next one, and I had to focus on making up positions due to other drivers’ misfortunes. That’s not how I like to go racing, but you have to take the points any way you can in such a tough championship as this. It prompted us to adopt a much bolder approach for race three, and the fact that we set the third-fastest lap time clearly validated the set-up changes we’d made.
“Having been fired off the track twice, I think the red mist descended and it was extremely satisfying to out-drag Jeff across the finish line after what had happened earlier. Overall, three good points scores means we can go to Croft in a positive frame of mind and firmly focussed on making further progress. It’s one of my favourite circuits on the calendar, so bring it on!”