How Tom Ingram became BTCC champion at Brands Hatch

11th October 2022
James Charman

Tom Ingram is the 2022 British Touring Car Champion. While that sentence may seem simple, the process it took to get there was anything but. With four drivers mathematically capable of winning the title, and just seven points separating the top three in the championship, it was the closest the BTCC had been going into the final day for more than a decade. Reigning champion Ash Sutton, gunning for the first title hat-trick since Andy Rouse, went into the weekend with the slightest of leads, while Jake Hill and Tom Ingram, second and third respectively, were looking to have their names carved on the trophy for the very first time. Colin Turkington sat fourth, and although there was a slim chance of a record-breaking fifth title, realistically the 27-point margin to the top was always too much to overcome.


As has become tradition in the BTCC, the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit was the location for the showdown. It has been the home of all but two finales since 2008 – and one of those was still at Brands Hatch, using the shorter Indy layout in 2020 as a result of the pandemic-enforced truncated calendar. With one of the most historic circuits in the country the setting, and the players all geared up for one of the most memorable finales in recent years, here’s how Tom Ingram finally stamped his name in the history books.


Things were near enough perfect for series organiser Alan Gow after the final qualifying session of the year, as the top three in the points filled three of the top five positions. Tom Ingram took pole position in his Hyundai and the potentially vital bonus point that comes with it, closing the gap between himself and Sutton to just six points ahead of the final race day of the season.

It was a close session, with the top 17 cars separated by less than a second, but four tenths of those split first and second. Such was the dominance of Ingram’s performance in qualifying, you’d have to go down to 28th on the grid to find a gap between positions larger than Ingram’s lead over Rory Butcher in second place. Ford-mounted Ash Sutton showcased just how close it was in qualifying, missing out on a front row start by one thousandth of a second, but at least had his team-mate Dan Cammish, the ‘rear gunner’ for the weekend, alongside him in fourth. Jake Hill was the best of the rear-wheel drive title chargers in his BMW, lining up fifth, while his team-mate Colin Turkington could only manage tenth. It was qualifying this far down at Silverstone two weeks earlier that had effectively ended the Northern Irishman’s title aspirations, with his Northamptonshire weekend ruined by being caught up in all of the midfield melee.


Race 1 - The perfect start

If for some reason you turned up at Brands Hatch or tuned into ITV4 on Sunday morning and didn’t know how close the title fight was, it wouldn’t have been hard for you to guess that was the case given the display that was provided in the opening race of the day. Although over half the race was neutralised due to the safety car, the racing that did happen was thrilling from start to finish and provided yet more twists in the tale right from the off.

While the action kicked off behind him, Tom Ingram pulled out an utterly dominant performance to take first blood in the hunt for the crown later that evening. Starting from pole position (a bonus point), leading every lap (another bonus point) and scoring the fastest lap (yep, another bonus point) en route to victory meant that Ingram took the full 23 points available for race one. While Ingram enjoyed a perfect start, Ash Sutton had a more trying race.

Sutton suffered a slight collision with title rival Jake Hill’s BMW, and despite showing some pace on the opening lap, a lack of turbo power meant the Ford lost almost all of its straight-line grunt after the two safety car periods, brought out for accidents involving Aron Taylor-Smith on lap one and Carl Boardley and Rick Parfitt Jr. on lap seven. Sporting some right-rear bodywork damage, Sutton tried as hard as he could to hold on to third, acting as the cork in the bottle for those behind him, all of whom began to trip over each other in the closing stages. Eventually Sutton had to succumb to Hill’s charges, while the Ford narrowly held Colin Turkington back in a drag race to the line on the final lap.

Ingram’s performance combined with the struggles for Sutton moved the Hyundai driver to the head of the points standings with just two races to go, leading by three points over the three-time champion, with Jake Hill only a further three back in third. Colin Turkington’s drive up to fifth meant that he was still mathematically in the hunt, although his chances were now even more unlikely, needing to overthrow a 32-point deficit with just 44 left to play for.


Race 2 - Cool head sets up chance for glory

After a frantic first race, things were better behaved in race two and, in what was a rare occurrence across all categories at Brands Hatch on Sunday, the entire 15 laps were run without the appearance of the safety car. Ingram knew the start would be crucial, with his rear mirrors on the grid filled with Jake Hill, whose BMW is known for its lightning getaways.

Both Ingram and fellow front-row man Butcher were able to curtail the advantage from Hill and box him in off the line, and had a couple of laps respite while the BMW driver waited for his tyres to switch on. Once his Goodyears were up to temperature, however, Hill began charging in a way that has become somewhat of a trademark of his. In just a couple of laps he was right on the boot lid of Butcher’s Toyota, eventually finding a way through at the halfway stage of the race. No matter how hard he tried however, Hill just couldn’t find his way past the unstoppable Hyundai of Ingram.

Hill was leaving nothing on the track, his BMW 330e M Sport drifting its way around the Grand Prix Loop in the final laps. Ingram, however, was simply unbeatable again. Leading every lap and taking another fastest lap left him with one hand on the trophy, holding an 11-point lead over Hill with just 15 laps left of the 2022 season.

Sutton again tried his hardest to cling onto the life of his title defence, desperately trying to keep Colin Turkington at bay, who was showing all the pace of his team-mate Hill. Unlike race one, Sutton was unable to hold on this time, and eventually fell behind the BMW on lap eight. Turkington then worked his way past Rory Butcher to put two West Surrey Racing BMWs on the podium behind Ingram. Sutton’s result meant he sat 14 points behind Ingram with just one race left to run.

Retiring legend Jason Plato provided the reversed-grid draw for race three, and pulled out number 10, placing Ingram’s team-mate Dan Lloyd on pole position. The reversal meant that Hill would need to work his way to the head of the field and hope that Ingram stayed in tenth to be able to overthrow the Hyundai man later that afternoon.


Race 3 - A dream realised

After six months and 29 races at eight circuits it all boiled down to the final 15 laps of the year to crown the 2022 British Touring Car Champion. Starting from 10th on the grid and with his closest rivals within view on the grid, Tom Ingram knew that all he had to do was keep Jake Hill and Ash Sutton in his sights and his lifelong dream of becoming BTCC Champion would be realised.

As is to be expected in a winner-take-all final, the action started from the very first lap, with Ingram wasting no time in trying to despatch Hill, diving up the inside at Paddock Hill Bend, the two running side-by-side up until Graham Hill Bend. An almighty squeeze at the third corner allowed Ingram to complete the move, but the BMW man fought hard, running side-by-side for the majority of the GP loop before finally having to concede to the Hyundai. Next up for Ingram was Colin Turkington, who many expected would help out team-mate Hill and make life difficult for the Hyundai. It wasn’t to be, however, as he opted not to get involved, allowing both Ingram and Hill to pass with very little in the way of defence.

In the chasing pack, Dan Rowbottom’s Honda – in a rare sighting of the Halfords-backed Civic Type Rs on what was a quiet Finals Day for Team Dynamics – pirouetted at the brow of Pilgrim’s Drop, somehow avoiding everyone behind and likely resulting in a change of underwear for Rowbottom post race. A few moments later Rick Parfitt’s race came to a premature end in a gravel trap for the second time of the day, prompting the safety car to be deployed and neutralise the field.


From the restart, Dan Lloyd streaked away at the front of the field, followed by Josh Cook and Rory Butcher, while Sutton began to fall back into the clutches of the charging Adam Morgan. Morgan, who had made a stellar start, looked to have got past the Ford, before contact between the two resulted in the Ciceley BMW spinning on the exit of Druids and very nearly collecting champion-elect Tom Ingram.

Jake Hill, who had just got past main rival Ingram, tried as hard as he could to get past the Ford Focus of the outgoing champion, but no matter how hard he tried could not find a way through. Eventually, his desperation would result in him being pushed out wide at Paddock Hill, dropping the BMW down to sixth and putting any slim hope of the title out the window - as did championship second place, with the ROKiT MB Motorsport driver ending the year a solitary point behind runner-up Sutton.

Ingram followed Sutton home in fifth, clinching his first ever BTCC title having come close so many times before. The emotion poured out of the Buckinghamshire-based driver the moment he crossed the line, Tom proclaiming in a post-race interview that he “wished I’d had an adult in the car with me telling me it’s all okay”. Almost forgotten was the fight at the top of the field, with Dan Lloyd taking his third win of the year and ending the day on the ultimate of highs for the Excelr8 Hyundai squad. Meanwhile Michael Crees’s season ended with a bang, having to crawl out of his Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra after landing on his roof in a final lap incident with Jade Edwards.


Sutton passes the torch; other champions crowned

Post-race, unsurprisingly all eyes were on Tom Ingram as he climbed aboard the roof of the Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance, and you could tell from the look in his eyes that it was going to take quite a while for his achievements to sink in. However, Ash Sutton was on hand to help speed up the process, removing the number one sticker from his own car and ceremoniously placing it on the window of Ingram’s during television interviews before Alan Gow handed over the duty of presenting the trophy to Sutton in another nice touch.

A host of other titles were also decided on Finals Day. The first championship to be confirmed was the Jack Sears Trophy, Bobby Thompson’s seventh place in the opening race of the day enough to secure the award for those who had started the season without a BTCC podium finish. Despite George Gamble enjoying a handful of better results when it comes to points in the overall standings, Thompson finished ahead of the Ciceley Motorsport driver more often than not. The result meant that for the first time in its 11-year history, a trophy was heading into the Team HARD camp. BMW also secured the manufacturers' crown in the opening race, extending its record-breaking run of titles up to a magnificent seven.

While Ford couldn’t overthrow BMW in the Manufacturers’ standings, and Sutton had to settle for the runners-up spot to Ingram in the overall drivers’ table, NAPA Racing UK didn’t go away empty-handed in its debut year. Having held a lead going into the Brands Hatch finale, the odds were in the Ford squad’s favour, and even had Team BMW not had a disappointing end to its day, they would not have been able to overthrow the bright yellow and blue Fords in the standings. As a result, Motorbase Performance finally took home its first ever BTCC trophy.


Josh Cook may have wrapped up the Independent Drivers’ title at Silverstone, but the Independent Teams standings went right down to the wire. A strong performance from both Adam Morgan and George Gamble put the pressure on the BTC Racing Hondas all weekend, but Josh Cook’s podium in round 30, coupled with Adam Morgan suffering a typical bout of bad luck meant that the Rich Energy-backed Honda Civics closed out 2022 with a pair of trophies – not a bad finish for Cook’s legendary team-mate Jason Plato, in what was the final time we will see him on a BTCC grid.

And that was that. We’ll look back at the season in greater detail later in the year, but for now, it’s time to reflect on what was for all intents and purposes a great day of racing. While there were some questions surrounding driving standards peppered throughout the support package, the BTCC showed just how good it can be. The 2022 finale at Brands Hatch was very much the BTCC at its best, and as one legend of the sport bowed out, a future legend finally carved their name on the trophy. It’ll be a year that lives long in the memory, and not only for Tom Ingram.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

  • BTCC

  • Tom Ingram

  • tom-ingram-80mm-btcc-interview-main.jpg


    Tom Ingram predicts a six-driver battle for the 2023 BTCC title

  • btcc-2021-snetterton-tom-ingram-hyundai-mi-main-goodwood-14062021.jpg


    Trio of winners in action-packed Snetterton BTCC

  • btcc-2021-brands-hatch-indy-tom-oliphant-mi-jep-main-goodwood-28062021.jpg


    Five things we learned from the BTCC at Brands Hatch