Tom Ingram and Toyota took their first victory of the BTCC season in the opening race of the triple-header at Thruxton.
Ingram started his Speedworks Motorsport-run Corolla from the outside of the front row, but got a better getaway than poleman Dan Cammish, and was able to keep the Team Dynamics-fielded Honda Civic Type R at bay throughout.
Ingram led Cammish in a train of five cars for the first few laps, before he inched the advantage to over a second on the sixth tour of 16.
But Cammish came back at Ingram, whose rear tyres were fading, and was able to take a glance around the outside at the entry to the chicane on the final lap, before being beaten to the flag by 0.644 seconds.
“I only just held on,” said a delighted Ingram, who was carrying 30kg of success ballast on his Toyota compared to 36kg on Cammish’s Honda.
“DanCam was coming like a steam train towards the end.
“We were quicker at the start, but we began to lose the rear tyres, and I was just hanging on.”
“It was just not a great start – there was nothing bad about it, and Tom said he did a very good one,” said Cammish.
“Ultimately we probably didn’t have quite enough pace – I pushed Tom quite a lot and he was more on the edge than we were, but I think he had too much for us in sector one and sector two.”
The second Honda of Matt Neal, Adam Morgan’s Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes A-Class and the older-spec MB Motorsport Honda of Jake Hill formed the rest of the leading quintet in the opening laps, before a puncture sent Hill into a spin at the chicane.
Hill ducked into the pits, and resumed one lap down, taking up station again upon the rear bumper of Morgan’s Mercedes.
Neal remained third throughout, although fell far behind the leading duo in his unballasted Civic to take his first podium of the season.
Morgan was a strong fourth, comfortably clear of fifth-placed Ash Sutton, who has moved into a one-point championship lead after problems struck season-long top dog Colin Turkington.
Turkington had just lost sixth position to Sutton when his West Surrey Racing-run BMW 330i M Sport began to slow with an electrical issue.
After a long pitstop, Turkington returned to finish four laps down.
Sutton, who had battled through from 11th on the grid in his Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50, made a brave move at half-distance on the Motorbase Performance Ford Focus of Rory Butcher at Segrave to take fifth but, carrying 54kg of ballast, could not match the pace of the leading quartet.
Butcher, on 48kg of ballast, dropped back and only just fended off the BTC Racing Honda of Tom Chilton for sixth.
Right behind this duo was a close-fought trio, with Tom Oliphant fighting through from a sixth-row start in his WSR BMW to claim eighth from the other two BTC Hondas, driven by Josh Cook and Michael Crees.
Behind 11th-placed Senna Proctor (Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai), Rob Austin passed the other Hyundai of Chris Smiley on the final lap to take 12th on his BTCC comeback with the Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra.
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