An emotional Tom Ingram spoke to TCF after claiming his maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship podium finish at Rockingham, saying it was “everything he ever dreamed of”.
The Speedworks Motorsport driver started from pole position in the final encounter of the day at Rockingham, leading for much of the encounter ahead of Team BMR‘s Jason Plato.
Plato fought hard to get by the Toyota Avensis but Ingram was equal to it, fighting back briefly after losing the lead before the Volkswagen CC man took the advantage at Deene for good to deny his rival a giant-killing victory.
Surrounded by cheers from around the circuit, Ingram cut an emotional figure on the podium afterwards, telling The Checkered Flag: “It’s the absolute top of what I’ve ever done. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed off.
“I had some serious fun out there and I could have gone all day. I spent most of the time on my in-lap just bawling my eyes out. I honestly thought I was going to be sick when I finished!
“I think when you want something that bad you fight everything you can for it. We definitely had the pace, then I think the safety car kind of screwed us over a little bit.”
The fight with Plato for the lead was one of the highlights of the 2015 season so far, the pair exchanging places three times in a fair contest that Ingram said he was never going to back down in.
“I’ve said all the way through, when you’re racing against the best people, you expect the best racing. Jason could very easily have given me a tap to get through but he didn’t at all. To have the respect not to do that, it’s a bloody, bloody good thing.
“Once we got the advantage, I wasn’t giving up at all. I got one of my best starts of my life and actually had a gap to play with. It felt like I didn’t make a single mistake; I thought everything was going so, so well.
“I had to get back at him while I had an advantage. He was quicker through [the first sector], but I had to get him as soon as I possibly could. If that meant being brave, I was going to be.”
Double champion Plato is one of those that has supported Ingram in the most recent years of his racing career most of all, the BMR driver formerly mentoring Ingram in the KX Akademy as he clinched his final Ginetta championship two years ago in 2013 – the third Ginetta title alongside Junior and G50 class successes.
With a flurry of young and talented drivers coming through the ranks in BTCC and fighting consistently at the front now in 2015, Plato was quick to sing high praise of Ingram afterwards, hailing a ‘world class’ fight in race three for which Ingram was grateful towards.
“I didn’t know he’d said that at all”, Ingram said of Plato’s public praise of the youngster. “That’s amazing to hear, so we’ve just got to go and do it again now!”
The team behind the hard work, Speedworks Motorsport, finally picked up a maiden podium themselves having been around in the BTCC since 2011, Ingram made up for the squad which he said he sees as ‘a family’.
He concluded: “It really repays the faith in the team because they have worked so hard to get it back to a good result. It’s all worth it! Things in the winter were really tough when we might not have been here, but I’ve got a really special bond with these people – it feels more like a family than a business.
“I’d like to think that this is the moment that I’ve gone ‘look, we’re here and we mean business’. The next thing is to get a win.”