Ingram and his Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai i30 N squad appeared to have made the right call to pull him into the pits for wet-weather tyres on the ninth lap of 24 when rain began making the circuit treacherous at the Clark/hairpin end of the course.
A couple of safety car periods pulled those who had remained on the lead lap after pitting onto the back of the train and, as conditions worsened and those who had stayed out made belated stops or slid off the circuit, Ingram emerged in front going into the closing stages.
The final flourish of green flags allowed just two laps of racing and began with Ingram enjoying a buffer of four lapped cars between himself and runner-up Jake Hill, who had pitted his West Surrey Racing-run BMW 330e M Sport one lap later than Ingram.
Ingram crossed the line with a comfortable cushion of 4.877 seconds to Hill, but both his Hyundai and that of third-placed Tom Chilton – who was one of the earliest to pit – ran into difficulties when they failed the post-race ride-height check.
This can happen when races start in dry conditions, turn wet and teams fit grooved rubber, on which the tread then wears down – it also occurred when Excelr8 driver Ronan Pearson finished third during the opening race weekend at Donington.
“It’s so hard in those conditions,” said Ingram. “The last half of the circuit was wet and the first half was dry – or drier.
“In the end, I said to ‘Spenny’ [engineer Spencer Aldridge], ‘You’re going to have to make the call mate,’ and he said, ‘Right, box this lap.’
“Sometimes you just have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.”
Hill and Ingram had been running third and fourth in a train of cars at the front of the field as poleman Ash Sutton and fellow front-row starter Josh Cook waged a thrilling battle for the lead.
Cook got in front on the fourth lap when Sutton’s Motorbase Performace-run Ford Focus ST slid wide exiting the chicane, dropped the left-rear wheel into the gravel and slewed back onto the circuit, clipping the One Motorsport Honda Civic Type R as he did so.
On the 11th lap, Sutton braved it out around the outside of Duffus Dip on the slippery surface, and Cook just couldn’t hold the Honda on the inside line. He clipped Sutton and that triggered a sideways slide into the barrier at the bottom of the hill.
Sutton pitted at the end of the first safety car, triggered by Michael Crees’s Team Hard Cupra stranded at the bottom of Duffus, promoting Scottish pair Aiden Moffat and Rory Butcher to the front.
But, on slicks, they soon ran into trouble, and Moffat’s One Honda and Butcher’s Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Corolla got involved with each other, Butcher also clipping Adam Morgan’s WSR BMW as he regained the track.
With both Scots stranded on the track, the safety car was called out again.
Through all the drama, Andrew Watson came through to fourth in his Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra from Stephen Jelley’s WSR BMW and the Speedworks Toyota of Ricky Collard. They were promoted to second, third and fourth with the exclusions of Ingram and Chilton.
Late stopper Sutton made up two spots in the final two laps of green-flag racing to take seventh – fifth in the final classification – from Aron Taylor-Smith (PMR Vauxhall), Pearson and George Gamble (Speedworks Toyota).
But Sutton and Taylor-Smith were later each penalised for passing Pearson before the start-finish line on the restart, relegating them to sixth and seventh respectively and promoting the Scot to fifth.
Mikey Doble (PMR Vauxhall) and Dan Lloyd (Hard Cupra) completed the top 10.
Knockhill BTCC race one result
This news article came from: https://www.autosport.com/btcc/news/dramatic-ingram-win-in-jeopardy/10507265/