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

21st April 2023
Simon Ostler

The BTCC returns this weekend for the opening round of the 2023 at Donington Park. It feels like a long time since the chequered flag dropped for the final time last year, to signal the end of a race that saw Tom Ingram cross the line to become champion for the first time.

After a winter break, and some incredibly wet pre-season testing, Ingram had one last date in the diary before getting his 2023 BTCC season underway, and that was a trip to Goodwood, for the 80th Members’ Meeting. He was due to be driving in the Jim Clark Trophy, a single-make race for Lotus Cortinas, and we had the opportunity to catch up with the reigning champ in the last moments before he gets stuck in to defending his crown.


So Tom, how has it been to call yourself BTCC champion?

"It’s been amazing actually, a whirlwind of an experience. It’s something that I’ve wanted to achieve since I started off in motorsport, so it’s been one of those lifelong goals to get to. Then when you’ve actually got it, you almost don’t know what to do with it, it’s quite a strange and surreal experience. But it’s been fantastic, it’s been a great winter, being able to go into it having done so well in the season.

"The hard work of doing it once is now almost matched with wanting to do it again, it has a strange feeling of almost one isn’t enough. It’s one of those things you continue to chase. It’s been a lovely experience and hopefully I can carry on as well."


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How’s the mindset through testing and into the first weekend? Is it different?

"A little bit yes. Like everyone, our off-season has been horrendous in terms of weather. I think we’ve done about five days of pre-season testing and maybe had, I don’t know, three hours of dry running. It just seems to have been all over the place, we’ve not had any consistency within our pre-season testing.

"We had Croft two days exclusively and then Knockhill, and you’ve got a circuit to yourself, you can do as much as you want, and you’re going ‘well there’s no point going out until 12’ because it’s wet, and then it rains at two. That becomes really difficult, so it’s hard work. But from it the car’s felt good so we’ve not hard too many issues."


Feeling confident?

"I think so. I think I’m in fairly good shape. Fundamentally you don’t know until you get to it, there’s only so much pre-season testing you can do. It’s so hard to really know exactly what other people are doing as well. But it’s been good, the car’s felt good. That’s always the nice thing, it’s difficult to know what to do over the winter because obviously we finished the season really strong, we won the championship, so there’s always a case of not wanting to deviate too far from what was very good last year.

"It’s hard to really know what to do but if you don’t put the development in, you’ll get caught up and overtaken very quickly. You’ve got to commit to doing quite a big development in the offseason on the basis that we have to keep our fingers crossed that it’s the right way to go when we do start testing. There are obviously bits and pieces you can do, it’s quite open in terms of the development you can do to try and find more speed from the car."


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Is winning is the only goal now?

"It’s tough actually because championships I’ve won in the past, I’ve always moved onto the next step up. You win the championship and you always move on. This is actually the first time in my career that I’ve come back to defend something, which has its own pressures because now you’re looking and saying if we finish third, well that’s rubbish, but it isn’t and that’s the hard way to look at it.

"I think we’re [the drivers] in a very nice place with it. It’s our life, it’s what pays our mortgage, it’s what keeps us in work, but at the same time it’s an awesome thing to be able to keep doing. I’ve been very lucky to achieve what I have achieved, and long may it continue as far as I’m concerned. I’d like to keep going with it. There’s obviously other stuff I’d like to go off and do, there’s other circuits around the world I’d like to go and compete at but fundamentally I think the BTCC remains my anchor or my cornerstone of what I’d like to continue to do."


Who are you looking at as your biggest challenge this year?

"The trouble is, you just don’t know. With the development that goes in in the offseason, there’s always someone knew to add to the mix. I’d put my house on it that we’re going to have the same six people there most weekends, but when it comes to those last three races on finals day who knows where it could be?

"We could see some new faces in there, we could some old faces in there, but fundamentally I think we’ll same the same group of guys that are going to be challenging, and that gets tougher every single year. We find a little bit more out of the car, we all find a little bit more out of ourselves, so it constantly changes and it constantly keeps improving."

You're racing a Cortina this weekend. Have you driven it yet?

"Yes thankfully I have, I’ve driven with Marco [Attard] a few times actually, but I’m not going to talk it up, by no means am I going to win it, because I’m not.

"But the Cortina I find enormous fun to drive. It’s so different to my current race car, but that’s the beauty of it, you just grab it by the scruff of the neck and wring it. It’s quite a unique experience, and obviously round a circuit like this it’s really a case of just absolutely wringing its neck for everything it’s worth. Who knows how it’s going to go, it’s such a tough group of 29 other cars. It’s going to be amazing really."

And it was amazing. Another BTCC champion Andrew Jordan took victory in the Jim Clark Trophy, with Ingram coming home in a very respectable 16th place. But for the drivers in the BTCC the serious work starts this weekend, at Donington, where the reigning world champion looks focused and ready to fight for a second successive title.

Goodwood photography by Pete Summers, other images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

  • BTCC

  • BTCC 2023

  • Tom Ingram

  • 80MM

  • Members Meeting

  • Touring Cars

  • Lotus

  • Cortina

  • Jim Clark Trophy

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    Four-time BTCC champ Colin Turkington says the goal is to win in 2023

  • jim-clark-trophy-80mm-lotus-cortina-main.jpg

    Members' Meeting

    30 Lotus Cortinas to battle for Jim Clark Trophy at 80MM

  • 80mm-jim-clark-tophy-jochen-van-cawenberge-main.jpg

    Members' Meeting

    Thirty Lotus Cortinas battle hard in the Jim Clark Trophy