Chris Ingram became the first British driver in 52 years to win the FIA European Rally Championship after an incredible end to Rally Hungary.
The Skoda Fabia driver finished the final round of the season in fourth and nine points ahead of title rival Alexey Lukyanuk after the Russian suffered a last-stage puncture that dropped him to second in Hungry behind Frigyes Turán.
Lukyanuk’s missed victory, along with then only scoring two bonus points on the final day of the event and also when dropped scores were taken into account, meant Ingram, who himself had suffered a deflated tyre on the rally-ending Telkibánya – Újhuta stage, became the first British ERC winner since Vic Elford in 1967.
He slid down two positions on the leaderboard with the loss of pace with his flat tyre, with Irish driver Callum Devine, who was making his first European championship appearance in an R5-spec Hyundai i20 taking third ahead of Ingram.
A delighted Ingram said on his title win: “It’s been a bloody hard road to get but this is everything to us. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us, everyone who has supported us. The support has been absolutely unbelievable and we are so grateful.”
He also went on to praise co-driver Ross Whittock and added:“It’s been such a hard year but I’ve not done this alone. Ross (Whittock) has been unbelievable, he’s the most reliable guy, I’m a complete dope. But he’s the most focused person in the whole world. The team have been absolutely amazing. The car has been perfect. Thank you so much to them for making it happen.”
His 2019 has been anything but straightforward – at one point his season was put in serious doubt and due to a limited budget, he was forced to rely on a crowdfunding campaign set up by his family and team to ensure he completed the remainder of the year. He also missed out on a win on Barum Czech Rally Zlín by just 0.3 seconds earlier this year.