Tom Ingram and Speedworks Motorsport spent seven years partnered together since his 2014 BTCC debut – here is a look back on their journey.
Ingram has been one of the most prominent characters in recent British Touring Car Championship seasons having piloted his way up and close as a challenger for the outright title.
The Speedworks Motorsport (Toyota GAZOO Racing UK with Ginsters) outfit are the efforts run by husband and wife duo, Christian and Amy Dick.
Their successes stories started early on since the team was founded in 2009.
It was thanks to Christian himself that they won the Ginetta Team Championship in the Ginetta G50 Cup and the British GT4 Championship, also at the wheel of a Ginetta G50.
But their concluding partnership with Ingram followed after stretched seven years of triumphs, successes and learning curves.
Ingram’s life before the BTCC
His motorsport activities began in the usual fashion for most racing drivers – up the karting ladder.
From 2001 until 2008, he pursued numerous successful campaigns in all of the UK’s major karting competitions.
His first step into car racing was in 2009 and the Ginetta Junior Championship, which still runs as a one-make supporter series amongst others in the BTCC package.
In the Ginetta G20, Ingram participated in all but missed six rounds due to financial struggles that carried since his prior year of karting.
After securing five top-five finishes in 2009, it was no further surprise to see him win the title in 2010 in Ginetta’s new G40.
The top-five finishes of the 2009 season were replaced with five victories, 13 podiums, eight fastest laps and six pole positions.
His following years in the Ginetta GT Supercup (G55) were fulfilled with not only two championship titles, but a wash of narratives where he dominated the races.
A year was spent with Plans Development, and the 2012 and 2013 seasons were at Derbyshire-based JHR Developments team.
Ingram and Speedworks debuting into the BTCC
The Speedworks Motorsport team and BTCC rookie Tony Hughes debuted into the BTCC in 2011, just as the lineup doubled in size for 2012 when Adam Morgan joined.
Morgan, the 2011 Ginetta GT Supercup Champion, faced a difficult year into the championship retiring from over 36% of the season.
The following year had their two Toyota Avensis’ in the hands of Dave Newsham and current BTCC runner Ollie Jackson – the team finished 10th out of 14 teams in those standings and were fighting for the lower end of the points scale.
However, it was the turn of another Ginetta Supercup Champion to debut his way into the championship.
Did Tom Ingram face the same difficult start as Adam Morgan?
Not quite. At least from a face-value perspective on retirements with six in his first BTCC season, compared to Morgan’s 11 DNFs – even if he was intensely close to a debut points finish.
As far as performances went, Ingram asserted a strong rookie performance to qualify sixth and secure a P9 finish in Race 1 at Brands Hatch Indy.
Whilst he retired at two out of the three races at Rockingham, it was a highlight that established the cut of his material to climb up 13 total positions during that weekend, edging out the 12 at Snetterton.
As Ingram finished 11th in the overall drivers’ standings, his results put Speedworks into seventh on the teams’ standings.
Excluded from these points was the double Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Champion Simon Belcher debuting the BTCC in a Handy Motorsport-run Toyota Avensis, backed by Speedworks.
By the 2015 season, still using the Avensis, Speedworks established an upwards phase of securing points finishes that were not for the lower end of that scale.
This progress was marked with a podium breakthrough at the Rockingham weekend.
He performed well during qualifying, demonstrating his pace as he held the top of the running order for most of the session; he ended up qualifying in fourth ahead of Race 1.
He subverted a poor getaway at the start to secure fifth, and then 10th in Race 2 from three positions further back on the grid.
The first element of the podium pursuit was the (technically maiden) pole position that the prior race result had earned him.
A promisingly strong start in Race 3 would not easily shake off the trio of BTCC titans behind him.
Jason Plato, Colin Turkington and Matt Neal – all champions – pursued the leading Avensis, even with a mid-race safety car period thrown into the mix.
But it was Plato’s relentless style that challenged Ingram, sneaking alongside Ingram on three instances.
The third attempt was the lucky one as Plato’s signature aggressiveness helped him successfully make a move at Gracelands – a swift left-handed bend uncommon for any overtake.
Ingram continued to retaliate by going door-to-door and reclaimed the lead, but was concluded by a race-winning move from Plato.
The grandstands erupted with excitement as they awoke to the winning potential of Ingram against the major players of the BTCC.
Ingram was delighted on his 2nd-placed finish:
“When you want something that bad, you will do whatever it takes to fight for it and I gave it everything I had.
“I don’t think I made a single mistake, and it was hard, fair and clean the whole way through as you would expect when you are racing with a driver of Jason’s calibre – to achieve this result following such an amazing battle with ‘Mr. BTCC’ himself just makes it even more special and rewarding.
“I honestly don’t know how I held him off for as many laps as I did.”
Ingram and Speedworks secured their first ever podium after their heated battle with the two-time champion and BTCC veteran.
Christian Dick reacted afterwards on Ingram’s duel against a driver whom he referred to as “the best in the business”:
“He put up one hell of a fight and repeatedly went wheel-to-wheel with a two-time champion – and even after Jason did finally get past, he stuck with him,” he said.
“It was, quite simply, a stunning performance.”
The duo both fought for the outright win, a first waiting for both Ingram and Speedworks, but ended up becoming one amongst Plato’s record-holding 97 BTCC victories.
A later second place in the Brands Hatch GP finale added to his podium count that season.
No longer fighting at the back of the field
By 2016, it was evident that the team’s priorities were moving upwards, no longer aiming to combine mid-field battles with weakened points finishes.
That season began with a spark since Ingram secured pole position and the race win of the opening Brand Hatch Indy round – the first for him and for Speedworks.
The young star found himself defending the lead from the moment the race got underway against the two Halfords Yuasa Racing team-mates of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal.
The top three ran their own race ahead of the 29 other drivers behind.
By the time of the checkered flag, he set a two second gap on Gordon Shedden to take his first victory.
Ingram referred to the positive state of progression and results from the prior season.
“When I saw the team celebrating as I climbed out of the car afterwards, it brought a tear to my eye, and the emotion just goes to show how much this first victory means to us.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said on his first winning feeling since his Ginetta days.
He would step onto the podium five more times later that season, including another win at Silverstone; he secured a reasonable 10th in the standings at the end of the season.
Speedworks also secured third in the Independent Teams’ Trophy, up from fourth in 2015.
Ingram’s success contrasted with Double European Hot Rod champion Matt Simpson who made his BTCC debut with Speedworks in a Team Dynamics-built Honda Civic Type R (before.
He was outscored and outpaced on all occasions securing just one point in the year as opposed to Ingram’s 219.
Becoming notable title contenders
Heading into the 2017 season, the rate of progress grew upwards and the results showed.
At this point, it was clear that Ingram and Speedworks were notable contenders for both Independents’ Trophies (Drivers’ and Teams’).
He kicked off his year with a win and a third-placed finish at the Brands Hatch Indy opening round.
In fact, it quickly emerged that Ingram was a driver who could threaten the usual top title runners relative to his notable swift charges up the field.
He accumulated seven more podiums, three further victories (six independent) and only three retirements.
It may have not been enough by the time of the Brands Hatch finale, but he secured third in the overall standings.
Logically, these efforts were rewarded with winning the BTCC Independent Drivers’ and Teams’ titles for Tom Ingram and Speedworks.
As if things could not get better for both of them, 2018 became his most successful BTCC season thus far, on the basis of a close and intense title fight with Colin Turkington.
In the opening two events of the season, Ingram had already won at least one race as Turkington made a poor start owing to tangling with the dramas elsewhere in the field.
The odds switched as Ingram faced two weekends (Thruxton and Oulton Park) where he scored points, but at the lower end of the threshold.
The two-time champion made the most of Ingram’s weaker results to secure two double consecutive podiums, including a win.
Turkington illustrated a quick and controlled driving style and would value consistency over risk to build up a healthy points streak.
He asserted this as the title fight swung back and forth between them throughout the season.
The title eventually led to a finale where Ingram needed to secure a podium in the second race to keep the fight alive.
He found himself charging from 14th on the grid, asserting pass after pass and was lying in fourth approaching the closing stages.
After a number of attempts to make one more all-important move, Turkington’s BMW Pirtek Racing team-mate Andrew Jordan kept him at bay for long enough.
Despite Turkington’s poor state of results after being caught up in other on-track drama, Ingram was unable to get the overall title but concluded the season on 292 points against Turkington’s 304 and a third BTCC championship.
“I gave it everything I had,” Ingram consolidated.
“We had to give it everything but well done to Colin [Turkington], he’s done the job again.
“He’s ever the professional. He scores the points and knows what he needs to do.
“I’d have loved to have beaten him – maybe next year.”
For the second consecutive year, he and Speedworks secured the Independent Drivers’ and Teams’ titles.
The 2019 season saw the arrival of the new Toyota Corolla in BTCC form and the added benefit of manufacturer backing from Toyota Team GB.
It also saw a new arrival of the BMW 330i for Colin Turkington and WSR.
The year was spent understanding the dimensions of another front-wheel drive car, but with a significantly shorter wheelbase (hatchback) compared to the Avensis (saloon).
A new shorter wheelbase changed the weight shift of the car under braking, theoretically being more agile to tackle corners.
Ingram started the year with a win at Race 3 of Donnington Park, and other wins were secured later in the season at Snetterton and Silverstone (Races 1 and 2).
The team finished fifth and last on the Constructors’ Championship and Ingram secured sixth in the standings. It was a year of steep learning curves adapting to the new Corolla.
2020. This was Ingram’s final season with Speedworks (news emerging after the season conclusion), so a year with the only Corolla on the grid would surely be a title fighter.
Despite a COVID-disrupted season, Ingram fought his way back as a title contender albeit against Turkington, Ash Sutton, and Dan Cammish.
Ingram was back in the game to comfortably show the potential from his Corolla against the rear-wheel drive saloons of Turkington’s BMW and Sutton’s new Infiniti Q50 – and against Cammish’s Civic Type R.
It was a season of 11 podiums and three wins that was not enough to win the title as the main focus was on Turkington’s and Sutton’s intense switch of title leader for most of the year.
It was Sutton’s year to get his second title, and fourth in the drivers’ standings for Ingram.
Reflecting back on the seven years, Ingram and Speedworks established a committed relationship from day one.
Ingram’s title pursuits before the BTCC hinted at his notable talent and desire to win, but a step into Britain’s premier touring car championship required an ideal team and platform to get to grips with the championship.
Ingram may have departed from his debut team, but his hunger for titles has never been more strong so he will always carry his notable talent and winning desire wherever he goes for 2020.
16 race wins, 41 podiums, 4 pole positions, 13 fastest laps and 2 Independents' titles at the wheel of a #Toyota… thanks for all the fantastic @BTCC memories, @Tomingram80. 🏁👏 pic.twitter.com/32Yb3PulzV
— ToyotaUK (@ToyotaUK) December 30, 2020