Tom Ingram said that an outpouring of support from fans spurred him on to fight back and claim the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship lead at Snetterton.
The Speedworks Motorsport man was victim to alternator and power steering problems that put him out of the opening race of the weekend while running fifth, setting the scene for a strong recovery drive in the second race.
From 27th on the grid, Ingram fought through to third place in tricky conditions, later matching that result in the extended ‘Diamond Double’ final race that dished out twice the number of points.
Ingram transformed a 19-point deficit into a six-point championship lead on a difficult weekend for title rival Colin Turkington, and cited ‘motivation’ to recover as crucial to his comeback.
“It was very special to be part of the BTCC’s diamond jubilee weekend,” Ingram acknowledged. “I think we did a good job with the weight in qualifying, and the second session proved that the Avensis works really well both with and without ballast.
“It was obviously a huge frustration to score none at all in race one, and that left us massively pumped-up for race two. We had so many supportive messages come flooding in after the DNF, which really gave us that extra motivation to fight back. My aspirations were to try to break into the points, but I honestly never expected to get all the way up to third. It just goes to show how quickly things can turn around in this championship.
“With the championship situation as tight as it is, we were well aware of the importance of staying out of trouble in the races, and the slippery conditions made it even harder. The double points scenario in the final race then represented a golden opportunity to net a big haul.
“I was very happy with third and to leave Snetterton with the championship lead – particularly after what happened in race one – was fantastic. Now we need to keep this momentum going over the remaining four weekends.”
Team Principal Christian Dick praised his driver’s qualifying performance, one which he feels ‘opened a lot of people’s eyes’ as to Ingram’s current form ahead of a serious title tilt.
On the recovery process, Dick added “the alternator issue in race one threatened to really derail our challenge. We picked up a low-voltage warning on the way to the grid, but with no chance to carry out a proper fix, all we could do was keep everything crossed and hope we would somehow get through. Deep down, though, we knew we were on borrowed time and our hearts sank when we saw Tom pull off the track as he was sitting pretty inside the top five.
“The pace of the Avensis was mega all weekend – and in all conditions. To qualify fifth with 66kg on-board I think opened a lot of people’s eyes and with a short window of peak performance for the tyres, Tom knew he only really had one shot to set a good time in Q2 and he delivered there as well.
“It was a really mature, sensible drive and leaves us feeling very confident now heading to Rockingham. It’s a circuit at which we’ve traditionally gone well, and whilst we’ve not carried maximum ballast there before, our tails are up and we’re ready for the fight!”