Bri­ton leads Opel ERC charge

Motor Sport News - - Brits At Opel -

In a day and age where rally cars are al­most ex­clu­sively driven by pay­ing driv­ers at the top level of the sport, Chris Ingram was ap­proached by Opel to spear­head its ti­tle de­fence in 2016.

The first con­tact be­tween the Brit and the Ger­man out­fit was in Au­gust last year, with the team seem­ingly know­ing that tal­ented Swede and reign­ing cham­pion Emil Bergkvist would be leav­ing for pas­tures new. A bril­liant R5 de­but in Valais as part of a prize for win­ning ERC Ju­nior cer­tainly helped.

Al­though Ingram was works sup­ported last year by Peu­geot Sport UK, he wasn’t in a full works team, and that’s a dif­fer­ence the Manch­ester young­ster has al­ready no­ticed af­ter just one test with Opel.

“It’s mas­sive for my ca­reer that they sought me out,” he says. “I still had to man­age a lot of the bits and bobs [in the team] with Peu­geot. With Opel ev­ery­thing is taken out of my hands. I can just turn up and fo­cus on my ral­ly­ing, they look af­ter ev­ery­thing. That’s ev­ery­one’s dream. I re­ally en­joyed hav­ing my own rally car, but when you’re in a proper works team and ev­ery­thing is done for you, you can purely fo­cus on driv­ing and that’s one of the rea­sons I’m so ex­cited for the year.”

He fol­lows an in­cred­i­ble list of Bri­tish and Ir­ish ta­lent of Opel fame, in­clud­ing Jimmy Mcrae, Brookes, Billy Cole­man and Mal­colm Wil­son to name a few. How­ever, there hasn’t been an abun­dance in re­cent times.

“There haven’t been too many Opel works driv­ers in re­cent years,” adds Ingram. “Kris Meeke was in the early 2000s but there haven’t been many oth­ers. Even Meeke is be­com­ing a leg­end with his cur­rent driv­ing so hope­fully it shows I’m on the right path, fol­low­ing all these guys. I earned [the drive] from show­ing my pace last year, they ap­proached me. That’s such an hon­our and hope­fully I can de­liver for them.”

Ingram will make his Opel ERC de­but on the Cir­cuit of Ire­land. He’ll face a stern chal­lenge from Ger­man team-mate Mar­i­jan Griebel, who won the ERC Ju­nior cat­e­gory on the Cir­cuit of Ire­land last year. But Ingram is con­fi­dent now he’s on a level play­ing field and knows the roads well. There’s one thing for cer­tain, he won’t be short of com­mit­ment.

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