Title-chaser Tom Ingram lamented a Knockhill visit dented by misfortune, and vows to launch “maximum attack” in the final two Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meetings at traditionally Toyota-friendly circuits.
The Speedworks Motorsport driver felt Knockhill was a ‘missed opportunity’, after results of sixth and 16th sandwiched an exclusion in race two – despite finishing second on the road in sodden conditions.
Ingram admitted that he expected the visit to Fife to be one of damage limitation, ending it 43 points adrift of series leader Colin Turkington with six races to run.
Victories at Silverstone and Brands Hatch in recent years – including Ingram’s maiden victory at the latter in the 2016 season opener – give the Speedworks man confidence that he can trim back that points deficit.
“I think you’d have to classify that as a real missed opportunity of a weekend,” said Ingram. “Knockhill was always going to be about damage limitation for us and we feared we might struggle a bit, but it’s fair to say we surprised ourselves in terms of our performance.
“We’ve lost touch a little in the championship, but the final couple of tracks should suit the Toyota well.
“We’ve won at Silverstone in each of the last two seasons and gone well at Brands GP too, so we’ll go there in confident mood and fully focussed on clawing back the ground we’ve conceded. We’re still holding our heads high and still in the fight – and we will keep fighting right to the end. From here on in, there can be no other strategy than maximum attack.”
Ingram and fellow championship contender Ashley Sutton were both victims to the regulations after finishing first and second on the road in race two, both the Toyota and Subaru failing the ride height check after an incident-strewn outing that ended prematurely.
Second-placed success ballast (66kg) had to be carried by the Avensis driver as a result of the exclusion, but Ingram remained pleasantly surprised by the pace shown despite the burden of extra weight.
“The pace was phenomenal considering the weight we were carrying and the fact it’s a rear wheel-drive circuit”, he added.
“I was well-pleased with sixth place in qualifying and race one, and then when we took some of the ballast out of the car for race two, the Avensis came alive and I had a lot of fun coming through the pack. It was difficult to settle into a rhythm with the constant safety car interventions, but every time I got up behind somebody I was able to attack pretty much straightaway and it was hugely disappointing for the result to later be taken away from us.”
Team Principal Christian Dick was equally frustrated by the exclusion, but remained optimistic ahead of visits to Silverstone and Brands Hatch which have traditionally been kind to the Toyota Avensis in recent years.
“Rules are rules and we obviously have to accept what happened, but it’s immensely frustrating to lose so many points for such a minor infringement that didn’t affect the performance of the car in any respect”, said Dick. “Tom did everything he could with another fantastic drive and deserved a lot more than he got out of the weekend.
“That gives us a lot of encouragement going forward, particularly with both Silverstone and Brands Hatch having historically been strong circuits for us that have yielded good results.
“We were heavy going to Silverstone last year, yet Tom came within a mere 0.001s of taking pole position and ultimately, in spite of the disappointment, he’s still second in the Drivers’ championship.”