Young Bucks ace Tom Ingram left Brands Hatch in bullish mood on Sunday after tallying a trio of superb top 10 finishes in the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship curtain-raiser.
Behind the wheel of his new Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis, Ingram opened his 2015 season in fine style as he laid down an early marker by lapping fastest of all among the 25 contenders in the first free practise session.
The 21-year-old proceeded to qualify ninth, a mere 0.2 seconds adrift of first place in a closely-matched field, before taking the chequered flag 10th in a hard-fought opening encounter that included several wheel-to-wheel duels in the ITV4 live-televised event.
From 12th on the grid in race two, Ingram swiftly advanced to eighth and then a pass on the BMW of race one winner Rob Collard allied to a late retirement ahead elevated him to an excellent sixth.
The result secured the three-time Ginetta champion and erstwhile British Karting champion fifth on the grid for the day’s last outing, and after being embroiled in a race-long battle for fourth, Ingram finished sixth once more to equal his best points haul total and place eighth in the overall standings heading to Donington Park for the second round next weekend.
Speaking afterwards, the highly-rated youngster said: “We can be really pleased with what we have achieved this weekend. To leave Brands Hatch with three strong top 10 finishes is fantastic, especially after some of the bad luck we suffered in 2014.
“It’s a real shot in the arm for everybody in the team; all the Speedworks guys have worked incredibly hard over the winter, and massive credit to them for what they have produced – these results are testament to all their efforts.
“The biggest improvement is undoubtedly in its tyre management. Last year’s car tended to fade later on in races as the performance dropped off, which left us a bit of a sitting duck and caused us to drop back down the order. Whereas at Brands, I was still able to set fast times right towards the end and with a lot of laps on the board.
“That was a real test, and the new Avensis passed it with flying colours. I can’t tell you how good it is to have a car I can actually race with for the full duration.
“We’ve come away with plenty of valuable data to go through to further refine the car, and that should allow us to go to Donington in a much stronger position than we were in arriving at Brands.
“There are plenty of reasons for encouragement, and our performance gives us a lot of confidence going forward. This is a brand new car that is only at the very beginning of its development curve and potential – there is so much more pace still to unlock.
“Considering we went into the weekend with minimal testing behind us, just think what we’ll be able to do once we’ve had a bit more track time. This is merely the start!”