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Ton-up Tingram ready to defend BTCC lead at Oulton Park

Thursday, May 18 2017

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship leader Tom Ingram will start his 100th BTCC race at Oulton Park this weekend (20/21 May) and is intent on maintaining his advantage in the face of the growing threat from rivals Colin Turkington and Gordon Shedden.

Two wins and a string of competitive finishes have kept the 23-year-old at the top of the order since round one at Brands Hatch last month. "We had our aspirations set on improving on last season, but we didn't expect to be leading the championship after the second weekend and even the third," Tom said. "So it was and still is very unexpected, but at the same time what we are aspiring to do."

Tom's form has dramatically improved compared to this time last year when his early season was dogged by incidents. "The thing that cost us last year was inconsistent results," he said. "Because we knew that we could finish really strong. Race one at Donington, for example, I knew I could defend because I could trust the people around me wouldn't do anything stupid, which means that you can race harder."

Looking back on his 2016 season, Tom has an additional reason to feel confident ahead of the weekend. "That was our turning point last year, the consistency came at Oulton Park," he said. "We know that we can be really competitive round there, it gives us a big boost.

"The difference from last year is that we are carrying so much more weight this time, [but] we know that we've got a car that can carry the weight well because of the work that we've done. Oulton Park is a very different circuit to try and carry the weight because you've got to get it stopped and started  and then get it back up the hills, but I'd like to think that we can have a good shot."

Tom has a 17-point lead over nearest rival Shedden, but is aware that just two points further back is Turkington in the rear-wheel-drive BMW and the Northern Irishman is a hot favourite for race wins this weekend. "Yes, there's a little bit of comfort in it [the lead], but it's irrelevant really because if you look at Colin last year, up until Oulton Park he had barely scored any points yet went to the last race in contention to win the championship. It goes to show how unexpected the championship is.

"We know that the BMWs are going to be very quick. We know the Subaru will be very fast there as well, I think it's obvious to see that they'll come strong conveniently, but we'll wait and see."

There's additional pressure on Speedworks to perform well, since the team is based in nearby Northwich, but this doesn't affect Tom. ""Not really," he said. "Other than there will be a party on Saturday night, that's about it! It's actually my 100th race in race one, so that will be quite a nice thing to have at the home race for the team. It's amazing how quickly it's gone."

Tickets for the BTCC at Oulton Park on 20/21 May are available on the gate for £15 on Saturday and £34 on Sunday, with free entry for under-13s. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.