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Marcus Simmons

BTCC Croft: Ingram fastest in free practice

Ingram moved his Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai i30 N to the top of the pile deep into the final 10 minutes of FP2, and finally headed the way by 0.135 seconds from the Motorbase Performance-run Ford Focus ST of Dan Cammish.

Josh Cook had led the way in FP1, in a One Motorsport Honda Civic Type R that seems to be going better than before this season.

Cook’s FP1 best was 0.030s clear of the West Surrey Racing-run BMW 330e M Sport of Colin Turkington in a session that was characterised by very light ‘psychological’ rain before the last few minutes got too wet for any meaningful running to be carried out.

The WSR BMW of Jake Hill was the first to dip below Cook’s morning best in the dry-but-blustery FP2, before Cook himself improved on that, and then Ingram and Cammish went quicker still.

“No one ever really knows the true pace from free practice,” Ingram told Autosport. “Although we were quickest, I’m not too fussed about it.

“When it matters later is when we’ll see whether we’ve still got it.”

Ingram said the car felt good, but drew attention to track conditions caused by the recent wet weather plus the realigning of the gravel trap on the exit of Clervaux, which now butts right up to the edge of the track.

“The circuit’s an absolute state,” said Ingram, who enters the weekend just six points away from championship leader Ash Sutton.

Tom Ingram, Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 N Fastback (Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images)

“There’s mud everywhere and there are stones everywhere, and I think that’s why we’re not seeing the true pace of the rear-wheel-drive cars [ie the BMWs] to be honest. We’ll wait and see how it pans out in qualifying.”

Behind third-placed Cook, Hill ended up fourth ahead of WSR BMW team-mates Stephen Jelley and Turkington – the four-time champion’s FP2 best was just 0.001s slower than his FP1 performance.

Sutton was another to not improve in FP2 – his Motorbase Ford was third in the morning session, good enough for seventh overall, but had a couple of off-track excursions at Sunny later on.

Eighth overall was the Team Hard Cupra Leon of 2022 Croft star Dan Lloyd, with Adam Morgan (WSR BMW) and Rory Butcher (Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Corolla) filling out the top 10.

Despite Lloyd’s performance, all was not totally hunky dory at Team Hard – BTCC debutant Daryl DeLeon didn’t get out on track until FP2, while Autosport understands that Nic Hamilton took the decision this morning not to compete this weekend before driving home.

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