Tom Ingram will remain with Speedworks Motorsport for the 2017 BTCC season after extending his deal with the team into a fourth year.
Ingram secured two wins last season at the wheel of the team’s Toyota Avensis to end the year tenth in the championship standings; breaking the 200 point barrier for the first time.
Having emerged from the season as the top qualifier on the grid and a consistent challenger for top six finishes, Ingram will now hope to build on the success enjoyed on track last year and said his aim was very much to challenge the big teams for the championship crown.
“It was a very easy decision to stay with Speedworks,” he said. “In a championship as ultra-competitive and unpredictable as the BTCC, the importance of continuity can never be overstated.
“We made tremendous progress last season, and to win our first race together in the very first round was an incredible achievement. Our qualifying pace was superb and our race pace was equally strong. Quite frankly, I don’t see anybody else in our position and with our level of resources doing a better job out there.
“It’s vital in the BTCC to make hay on the good days and make the most of the bad days – but last year, our bad days were very, very bad. In nine of the 30 races, we didn’t score at all and in two more we picked up just a single point. If we’d been more consistent and averaged just eighth place in each of those races, we’d have won the championship – I think that’s a measure of how much potential there is inside this team, which is hugely exciting heading into 2017.
“The benefit of all the experience we have gained will galvanise us and we now have a much stronger package all-round and a completely different mindset and approach. Having broken our duck, that box has been ticked and we can focus on the bigger picture. We have proved we deserve to be here and will go into the new season with a lot more confidence – whereas last year we were simply hoping to be in the mix, this year we will be aiming to win.
“The key will be to finish races, stay out of trouble and keep scoring points – and ultimately, I want to be going to Brands Hatch in October in with a shot at the overall title.”
Team boss Christian Dick meanwhile was understandably pleased to keep the multiple Ginetta champion onboard and agreed that further forward progress had to be the target for the year ahead.
“Keeping Tom on-board is a major coup,” he said. “He was unquestionably one of the BTCC’s standout stars last year and with a competitive car underneath him, he consummately proved his potential with both his pace and racecraft, all underpinned by a mature and intelligent approach that belies his age. He is at the forefront of the series’ next generation and a champion of the future, I am sure.
“There are clearly areas in which both we as a team and he as a driver still need to improve, but we have been working tirelessly on all fronts since last season ended and I think the benefits of that effort and remaining together for a fourth year will shine through when we hit the track. There has been a raft of updates to the Avensis that we are all very excited about, and we believe we can be genuine contenders for the Independents’ crown in 2017. Brands Hatch cannot come round soon enough!”