It was all to play for as Tom Ingram and the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters Corolla went into the final three rounds of the 2020 BTCC season. Despite being fourth in the championship standings, Ingram was still in contention for the title and was raring to fight for his chance to be crowned BTCC champion.
A soaking wet qualifying session was bad news for some drivers but not Ingram, who managed to grab his first official pole position of the season, after his previous pole at Croft was disallowed (see below). This time, Ingram was definitely starting on the front of the grid and proved that the Corolla could handle the slippery conditions which were forecast for all three remaining races.
Race One saw Ingram sprint off the line, closely followed by two of his title rivals, Dam Cammish and Ash Sutton. Ingram defended hard in the tough conditions and led for 12 laps before having to concede to both his rivals, but not without some action-packed wheel to wheel racing. Finishing in a respectable third place, Ingram’s chances of title glory began to slip away.
In Race Two, Ingram was one of many cars sliding down Paddock Hill Bend on the opening lap as the combination of slick tyres and a damp track proved tricky. Despite this sideways moment dropping Ingram down to 13th, he recovered quickly, climbing his way back up to second place by lap 13. Second place is where Ingram would remain until the chequered flag and although a valiant effort, the title was now beyond Ingram’s grasp.
The last race of the season saw Ingram starting down in 11th position due to the partially-reversed grid, but he was determined to push hard all the way to the end. In fully wet conditions again, the 54kg Corolla showed no issues with the extra weight or the unfavourable weather conditions, as Ingram battled his way up to seventh by the end of lap two, and had moved up to second by mid-race. Reducing the gap between him and lap leader Rory Butcher, Ingram didn’t quite have enough laps to catch and overtake Butcher, crossing the line just 1.5 seconds in arrears.
Ingram finished the season on a high, leaving Brands Hatch as the weekend’s top points scorer and securing fourth overall in the Drivers’ Championship.
Snetterton – Rounds 22,23,24
After a stellar performance at Croft, plus a great showing at Goodwood SpeedWeek for Tom Ingram, morale was high for Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters going into the penultimate round of the BTCC 2020 season, especially with the fight for the championship title still up for grabs.
Snetterton is a track usually run in summer, so the colder autumn temperatures was a new challenge for Ingram, but he still posted a great qualifying time with the Corolla sitting third on the grid for Race One.
Despite the 42kgs of success ballast onboard, Ingram managed to grab second place away from the line and went on the attack for first. A bold attempt to go all the way around the outside of Colin Turkington at Agostini failed to come off and Ingram found himself having to fend off the attentions of a lighter Jake Hill behind resulting in some contact at the Wilson hairpin. Luckily Ingram remained unscathed and maintained his position. Unfortunately, he was unable to close the gap back up to Turkington and crossed the line in second place.
Race Two saw the Corolla with 54kg of ballast but as seen in previous race weekends, this doesn’t phase either the car or Ingram. After a brief battle with Turkington for first, Ingram decided to defend his second-place position from the lighter cars behind him, including three of his four championship rivals. A hit on the last lap did little to unsettle Ingram and he managed to cross the line in second.
Race Three saw Ingram put down to ninth on the partially reversed grid, but this didn’t seem to phase him as the Corolla was soon making its way through the pack ahead, including a superb opportunistic pass on lap five to snatch three positions in one fell swoop and climb to fourth. Ingram’s speed was undeniable as he posted two consecutive fastest laps and managed to reduce a four-second gap between him and the leading trio down to virtually nothing.
However, the race ended on a slightly bitter note as Butcher ran wide into the side of Ingram on the last corner after running out wide, resulting in Ingram being pushed off the track and dropping down from third to eighth place when he crossed the chequered flag.
Ingram said of the weekend: “It was such a frustrating way to finish the weekend because we should have left Snetterton with three podiums and a reduced gap to the top of the championship, and as it was we ended up conceding ground. I’m gutted for everyone in the team, who all worked so hard to give me such a good car. We’ve had more than our fair share of bad luck this year, but now we need to go to Brands Hatch and sign off the season on a high. This isn’t over yet!”
Ingram is still in with a chance of challenging for the championship, with only 34 points separating him from the top of the driver standings meaning that it will be all to play for in the final few rounds of racing.
The final three rounds of the BTCC take place on 14/15 November at Brands Hatch Indy.
Croft – Rounds 19,20,21
After an unfortunate end to Silverstone (see below), Tom Ingram and the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters team were hopeful at collecting some much-needed points to keep their championship title fight alive.
Qualifying saw the track suffer from both dry and wet spells, but the British weather didn’t manage to hamper Ingram as he posted the fastest qualifying lap in the Corolla, securing him pole position on the grid for Race One. Sadly that pole position was taken away after the Corolla failed the post-session ride height checks due to a wishbone failure. This meant that Ingram would be demoted to the back of the grid for the first race, still carrying the success ballast.
Starting at the back of the grid for Race One, Ingram knew he had his work cut out for him as he needed to score as many points to still be a contender for the championship battle. Despite the 42kgs of success ballast, Ingram managed to charge through the pack ahead of him, even setting his own personal fastest lap, and put the Corolla into the points with a 13th place finish.
Hopes were high for Race Two (Ingram’s 200th BTCC start) as the Corolla, which had proved to be quick in Race One, was now minus the 42kgs of success ballast. Ingram found himself on the grass but stayed out of trouble during a chaotic opening lap, managing to get himself up to eighth. Still pushing the Corolla, Ingram pulled off a series of brave moves and secured fourth place as he crossed the line.
The third encounter saw Ingram start third on the grid thanks to the partially-reversed grid draw. Ingram managed to grab second place away from championship rival Dan Cammish before snatching the race lead from Tom Chilton at the Jim Clark Esses. Ingram slowly began to increase his lead over the chasing pack, but a safety car on lap three saw that safety buffer crumble. Once racing restarted, Ingram struggled to create the same gap to his rivals but managed to hold onto the lead as he crossed the finish line.
Ingram said, “Well, that wasn’t the day we expected – from starting at the rear of the grid in race one to finishing with a win! It just goes to prove that you can never, ever allow your head to drop in the BTCC because things can turn around so quickly in this championship and if you stay positive, it’s astonishing what you can drag back from seemingly nowhere. I’m so proud of what we’ve done as a team. We kept our focus throughout and never once took our eyes off the target, and to recover as well as we did is an immense credit to everybody at Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters.”
Ingram’s race win, coupled with his other points haul from the weekend, saw him close the gap in the drivers’ standings even further, with only 17 points separating him from Colin Turkington in third, and just 29 points behind current championship leader Ash Sutton.
The next three rounds of the BTCC take place on 24/25 October at Snetterton.
Silverstone – Rounds 16,17,18
Hopes were riding high for Tom Ingram and the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters team entering Silverstone, after the stellar performance at Thruxton (see below) and with Ingram winning twice at the Northants track last year.
After taking his first two wins of the BTCC 2020 season, Ingram was keen to capitalise on this and reduce the deficit to his two championship rivals, Ash Sutton and Colin Turkington. Ingram’s weekend started positively when he qualified the Corolla second on the grid for Race One.
In that first race on Sunday, Ingram chased after race leader Dan Cammish, in a reverse of Race One at Thruxton the weekend before. Ingram managed to grab the lead briefly on the opening lap before Cammish reclaimed the position before the end of the first lap.
An incident further down the pack meant the safety car was brought out. In the BTCC, the rules allow drivers to fight for position until they see the safety car boards. Ingram thought he’d snatched the lead by just 0.009sec as he and Cammish sped towards the timing line at the end of the lap.
However, the Corolla was forced to concede the race lead to Cammish after it was discovered that the safety car boards were displayed a corner earlier at Woodcote. Once the race resumed, Ingram chased after Cammish once more but couldn’t get enough momentum to overtake his rival and crossed the line in second.
Ingram once again chased after Cammish in Race Two and managing to seal the deal before the end of the first lap. Ingram remained out in front despite constant pressure. Turkington had crept up the order and was in third place, giving Ingram a little breathing space as Cammish defended from the BMW.
With just a couple of laps to go, it looked like Ingram was going to take his third win of the season but disaster struck as a puncture at Becketts forced Ingram out of the race.
With grid positions for Race Three determined by the finishing order for Race Two, Ingram had to start from a lowly 25th place on the grid for the final event of the weekend.
He needed to climb through the grid to get into the points in order to keep his championship challenge alive. But Ingram’s Race Three curse struck again as contact between Tom Onslow-Cole, Carl Boardley and himself resulted in the Corolla spinning off the track and into the barrier, putting a sour end to a promising weekend.
The two DNFs also impacted Ingram’s championship title chances. He is now fourth in the running and 42 points behind leader Sutton.
Ingram said of the weekend: “Our bad luck at Silverstone obviously makes things just that little bit more difficult now, but we will keep on fighting to the end. There’s still a long way to go, and we have three strong tracks for us coming up. We’ve finished on the podium at Croft before, we took the Corolla’s first pole position at Snetterton last year before following it up with a race win and Brands Indy was the scene of my maiden BTCC victory.
“Thruxton and Silverstone both demonstrated the huge progress we’ve made with this car over the past 12 months – and there’s no reason at all why we shouldn’t replicate that step forward at all of the remaining circuits.”
The next three rounds of the BTCC take place on 10/11 October at Croft.
Thurxton – Rounds 13,14,15
After a brief respite for the teams, the BTCC was back in action at the UK’s fastest circuit, Thruxton, last weekend, with Tom Ingram securing a double win in the Corolla for Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters.
With Ingram already scoring podium positions in the BTCC 2020 season so far, he was eager to get his first win. A strong qualifying gave Ingram his best chance of a race win, with the Corolla placed second on the grid, less than a tenth of a second shy of pole position.
In Race One, Ingram managed to out-drag pole-sitter Dan Cammish away from the lights and take the lead. Ingram was then engaged in a game of cat and mouse with Cammish which saw the two break away from the pack behind them. Ingram coped well under the pressure and managed to bring the Corolla across the line in first place, but not before posting a new lap record.
The second encounter saw Ingram on the front of the grid, but with 60kg of success ballast added to the Corolla. Despite the additional weight, the Corolla was still phenomenally quick and Ingram managed to maintain his lead for the duration of the race. He was duly rewarded with his second win of the season.
The partially-reversed grid in Race Three saw Ingram start in eighth place but he was keen to get back up to the front of the pack once more. A gutsy move around the outside at The Complex gained Ingram three places, and he crossed the line in fifth place. This position, plus his two race wins, gave Ingram his best-ever points haul in the BTCC to date.
After the exciting weekend, Tom Ingram said: “I’m well chuffed. If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect to be getting two wins coming into this weekend. I wanted a podium and I wanted to be up there, but I didn’t think I’d get two wins, so full credit to the guys and girls at Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters. We’ve put a hell of a package together this weekend and it feels very exciting. It was a great result and a great weekend for Toyota Gazoo worldwide with the Le Mans win, the WRC win in Turkey, and two wins here in the BTCC. It’s been a hell of a day.”
The two race wins for Ingram, coupled with championship leader Colin Turkington’s poor points haul means that the Ingram is now third in the championship standings, only 32 points from new leader Ash Sutton.
The next three rounds of the BTCC take place on 26/27 September at Silverstone.
Knockhill – Rounds 10,11,12
Tom Ingram was a man on a mission to score points in all three races with the Corolla as BTCC 2020 moved to a fan-favourite track, Knockhill, last weekend.
On Saturday, Ingram dismissed claims that Knockhill is a circuit that favours the rear-wheel-drive cars by topping the timing screens in the opening free practice session (FP1). A gearbox oil leak dashed his chances of maintaining that momentum in FP2, but in qualifying later that day he still managed a respectable fifth-best time, just two-tenths slower than the pole position time.
In Race One on Sunday, Ingram quickly moved his way up to fourth place but found it difficult to get past a particularly defensive Jake Hill, who was in a much lighter car. Ingram stuck to Hill’s rear bumper for the entirety of the race and cross the finish line less than half a second behind him.
For Race Two Ingram’s Toyota was saddled with an additional 12kgs of success ballast, but this didn’t seem to bother the Corolla driver. He moved up two places after taking advantage of a battle between Hill and Rory Butcher at the start of the race.
Ingram stayed with race leader Ash Sutton before having to abandon his pursuit of Sutton to defend from Dan Cammish. When the chequered flag fell, Ingram was third, collecting his second podium finish of the BTCC 2020 season so far.
For the reverse-grid Race Three, Ingram lined up ninth, now with 48kgs of success ballast on-board the Corolla. Not that this seemed to faze the car, nor Ingram, as he pulled off an audacious overtaking move on championship leader Colin Turkington through the opening corners. From then on he was embroiled in a multi-car battle for seventh place and had to fend off the close attentions of Sutton.
Ingram crossed the line in tenth place, which maintained his record of placing inside the top ten in every race he has finished this year – the only driver other than Turkington to do so.
After the race, Ingram said: “To hang onto tenth place was probably the best we could have managed and meant we left Knockhill with three very solid results, more good points, another trophy and very little damage. Now we look forward to an altogether different type of challenge at Thruxton – bring it on!”
Team boss Christan Dick added: “There’s no question that it’s been an intense first half to the season with four events in five weekends, but we have come out of it in very decent shape, for which the entire team deserves considerable kudos. We have scored points in ten of the 12 races to date, and the only times we haven’t scored, it has been through no fault of our own. Now we will go away, regroup and come back even stronger at Thruxton in three weeks’ time.”
The next three rounds of the BTCC take place on 19/20 September at Thruxton.
Oulton Park – Rounds 7,8,9
With Oulton Park being the home circuit for Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters, the pressure to score well was high. After a troublesome third race at Brands Hatch (see below), Ingram was determined to try and score well in all three rounds at the team’s local track with the Corolla.
However, after being sideswiped by another car and sustaining heavy damage to the Corolla during qualifying, Ingram lined up a lowly 14th on the grid ahead of Race One. A sudden pre-race downpour made track conditions very slippery but this didn’t upset Ingram or the Corolla, which was carrying 42kg of championship ‘success ballast’. He battled his way through the pack to finish sixth, plus the added bonus of securing the fastest lap of the race.
Ingram was in feisty mode for Race Two as he moved up from sixth to fifth after having bouts with Tom Chilton and Jake Hill. The Corolla showed no signs of struggling with the success ballast, with Ingram just 0.4s behind fourth-placed Dan Cammish at the chequered flag.
The curse of Race Three struck Ingram for the second consecutive weekend as a driveshaft failure prevented the Corolla from lining up on the grid. Despite the setback, Ingram is still optimistic about the next race meeting.
“It’s fair to say that Oulton didn’t deliver the results we were hoping for in the end, but it’s Knockhill next, which is somewhere we’ve always gone well. It may be regarded as another track that’s well suited to the rear-wheel-drive cars of our rivals, but I’m feeling punchy, I’m up for the fight – and we’re heading there all guns blazing!”
Team boss Christan Dick added: “Race three could – and should – have been another really strong result, and we were confident of moving forward from sixth on the grid.
“We suspect that the failure was a hangover from the contact in qualifying – I genuinely can’t remember the last time we had a driveshaft let go, and it was on the same side as the impact so it just seems to be too much of a coincidence.”
The next three rounds of the BTCC take place on 29/30 August at Knockhill.
Brands Hatch GP – Rounds 4,5,6
Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters continued its strong start to the British Touring Car Championship campaign at Brands Hatch this weekend, with Tom Ingram managing to secure a podium finish in his Corolla.
After qualifying eighth on the grid for Race One, Ingram carved through to a fourth-place finish, just a few seconds shy of his first podium of 2020. The good pace of the Corolla was carried on from the previous weekend at Donington Park (see below) and left Ingram with his best chance of scoring a podium in the second race of the day.
In Race Two, Ingram scored the first piece of silverware of the BTCC 2020 season with a second-place finish. After an excellent start, Ingram battled with race leader Colin Turkington early on. Ingram felt the pressure as he had to defend from Dan Cammish and saw his chances of gaining the race lead start to dwindle as Turkington began to pull clear of the Corolla.
The final race of the day didn’t end on a high note for Ingram as he was forced to retire early. Ingram was an innocent victim of another driver’s accident and damage to the rear of the Corolla forced him to retire early.
A disappointed Ingram said: “It was a frustrating end to the day but unfortunately, that’s racing. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and caught up in a shunt. But it’s been a good weekend all in all with good points and a good pace, and I’m excited about Oulton Park.”
The turbulent race weekend at Brands Hatch has left Ingram fourth in the championship with 67 points, only three points behind Tom Oliphant in third and 28 points behind championship leader Turkington.
The next three rounds of the BTCC take place on 22/23 August at Oulton Park.
Donington Park – Rounds 1,2,3
Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters made a solid start to its British Touring Car Championship campaign at Donington Park this weekend, with Tom Ingram guiding his Corolla to a trio of top-six finishes.
Raring to make amends after the delayed start to BTCC 2020, double Independents’ champion Ingram wasted little time in getting the British-built Corolla hatchback among the frontrunners.
Although he was unable to emulate the sensational race win he claimed at the East Midlands venue in 2019, strong and consistent finishes in each race put Ingram right in the championship mix.
After qualifying fourth on the grid, just two-tenths from pole position, the 26-year-old managed to secure fourth place in Race One. It wasn’t exactly the trouble-free start to BTCC 2020 Ingram would have liked; on lap four he accidentally made contact with the rear of Colin Turkington’s BMW after the cars ahead all tangled. The Speedworks Motorsport-prepared Corolla lost a couple of places and endured overheating issues for the remainder of the race, but Ingram fought back to fourth at the chequered flag.
The result in the opening race of BTCC 2020 meant Ingram started the day’s second encounter from fourth on the grid, but the Corolla now had to carry 42kgs of success ballast. The extra weight on board did nothing to deter Ingram as he once again sealed a fourth-place finish after battling triple title-winner Matt Neal and race one victor Dan Cammish.
Ingram lined up ninth for Race Three, for which the starting order was partially reversed. He fought hard to make progress and had to pull off a remarkable save on lap six when a tap from the car behind sent the Corolla into a dramatic sideways slide. Somehow he maintained his position and managed to climb to sixth place at the chequered flag, only three-tenths of a second behind fifth place.
Ingram’s fruitful day at Donington Park netted him 36 points, leaving him fifth in the overall standings.
Following the race action, Christian Dick, the Team Principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters, said: “It was a rock-solid start to the season, which was exactly what we had been targeting, with no big dramas and good points scored in all three races. The Corolla ran well throughout and we had strong speed across the board – both with and without success ballast – which bodes well for the remainder of the campaign.
“There’s a really positive feeling inside the team right now – a sense of underlying confidence. We’re very comfortable with the Corolla, and I think we will only get stronger and stronger as the season settles into its stride.”
Ingram added: “The Corolla felt strong all weekend; we’ve clearly established a good baseline with it, and that’s encouraging for the remainder of the campaign.”
The next three rounds of the BTCC take place on 8/9 August at Brands Hatch, where Ingram will be hoping to strengthen his championship position.
“We are in a positive place going to Brands Hatch and I’m feeling excited. I love the ‘Grand Prix’ circuit – it’s a proper old-school challenge and we’ve usually gone well there. The aim is more of the same to keep ourselves in the hunt – and if a win or podium is there for the taking, we will of course grab it with both hands.”