From ERC Junior rookie to European Champion: Ingram nets the ultimate prize.
Chris Ingram’s FIA European Rally Championship tittle success* alongside co-driver Ross Whittock completes his transition from rookie to overall champion in a space of six seasons.
He began his European adventure in a Renault Twingo in 2014, earning the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy on the Circuit of Ireland, only his second appearance in the championship, which ultimately ended in a huge crash.
A chance with Peugeot UK followed before he was recruited by the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team. After losing out on the 2016 ERC3 Junior title on a final-round decider to team-mate Marijan Griebel in Liepāja, Ingram bounced back to take the crown the following season, this time ahead of fellow Opel driver Jari Huttunen.
That result, along with the prize purse from Eurosport Events, helped Ingram secure a step up to ERC1 Junior for 2018 and he narrowly lost out on championship glory to Nikolay Gryazin at the end of his first campaign at R5 level.
Despite limited finances – which had to be bolstered by a crowd-funding campaign launched by his mother plus the support of his Toksport WRT team – Ingram took the title battle to the final round in August, only to miss out on first place to Filip Mareš by 0.3s.
But that defeat on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, which he completed leading the overall standings due to his early season scores, served as a catalyst to a, at times, unlikely title push.
“It’s been a bloody hard road to get but this is everything to us,” said Ingram, a 25-year-old from Manchester in the UK. “Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us, everyone who has supported us. The support has been absolutely unbelievable and we are so grateful.
“It’s been such a hard year but I’ve not done this alone. Ross has been unbelievable, he’s the most reliable guy, I’m a complete dope. But he’s the most focused person in the whole world. The team have been absolutely amazing. The car has been perfect. Thank you so much to them for making it happen.”
Ingram took the ERC title by nine points following a dramatic final stage on Rally Hungary yesterday when both he and title rival Alexey Lukyanuk suffered punctures.