Ingram takes much needed victory to set-up win or bust junior title showdown
Chris Ingram claimed a vital first ERC Junior win of the season in the Czech Republic, leading from start to finish on the penultimate round of the series.
The 22-year-old from Manchester came into the event with an 11-point advantage over works Opel teammate Marijan Griebel, but dropped scores meant it was actually Germany’s Griebel who could secure the title with a Zlin win. Furthermore, Ingram had come off the back of a first-stage crash on the non-erc Rallye Deutschland a week earlier, when Griebel had won the class.
Ingram however fired a signal of intent when he was five seconds faster than anyone else on the streets of Zlin on Friday night, and two fastest times on Saturday morning stretched his lead over Griebel to 16 seconds. Griebel struck back on the next stage but then broke his steering in a big cut on stage five, forcing him to retire on the following test.
Come Saturday night, Ingram had opened up a lead of 47 seconds, leaving him able to cruise to a 23s victory over Circuit of Ireland winner Lukasz Pieniazek.
“We put a lot of work in for this event, the team has worked really hard,” said Ingram, who was in his second ERC event with new co-driver Elliott Edmondson. “Yesterday I pushed really hard, today I drove a little bit like my gran!”
Griebel restarted on Sunday and set five fastest times to top the leg and claim fifth place. Although Ingram has now scored 31 points more than Griebel this season, the dropped scores ruling means it will be winnertakes-all in Latvia next month.
Privateer Opel driver Pieniazek enjoyed his first clean run across his parallel European and World championship campaigns since his ERC Junior win in Northern Ireland at the Circuit of Ireland in April, and beat his works counterparts to two fastest times. The third factory Opel of Julius Tannert dropped out on the opening day with low oil pressure, which enabled Nikolay Gryazin to come home third in his Peugeot, four minutes back after an off into a ditch on Sunday morning.