Chris Ingram and Ross Whittock on their debut season of four-wheel-drive rallying have secured 2nd in the FIA European Rally Under 28 Championship after finishing a career-best 2nd overall on the finale in Latvia – Rally Liepāja.
It was a three horse race for the title going into Latvia, with Chris facing competition from eventual winner Nikolay Gryazin, who lives in Latvia and has competed in over 50 rallies in a Skoda Fabia R5, and Fabian Kreim, backed by Skoda Deutschland, who has also competed in over 50 events in a Fabia. The odds were very much against Chris for the ERC Junior U28 crown on the season-closing round with 2018 marking his first campaign in an R5 car and Rally Liepaja only his 8th start in the Fabia R5.
Despite this the Brit’s were still fully motivated and determined to go “flat-out” and chase the Under 28 title, with Latvia holding happy memories when 12 months earlier they had won the ERC Under 27’s title there in dramatic fashion.
On Day 1, Chris & Ross took the fight to Gryazin, just 0.1 seconds per kilometre off the Russian’s pace who cut his teeth driving the flat-out Latvian stages, finishing the day with a fastest stage time.
The gap to Gryazin seemed too much to claw back after the opening stages of Sunday morning however, so the team opted to defend their position and wait to see If any misfortune was to hit Gryazin.
After finishing second to Gryazin on the Latvian event and final championship standings, Toksport WRT driver Ingram paid tribute to his Russian rival.
“I’m really happy how we’ve developed in our first season in an R5,” said Briton Ingram. “Nikolay has been an incredible benchmark with incredible pace on every rally, so thanks to him for pushing me and massive congratulations again for winning the championship.
“For us it’s been a massive learning curve with lots of highs and lows. Ross [Whittock, co-driver] has done an amazing job, the whole team’s done an incredible job and really helped me. Hopefully, we can carry on and find the budget to return in 2019 with a full seasons experience under our belt. Missing one ERC Under 28 round and two further ERC rounds due to my illness earlier in the year, it has been difficult to catch up, but we have learnt an incredible amount and I feel confident, next year, we can go and win. I would like to say a huge personal thanks to all of my investors both commercial and personal, in particular my sponsors 11 Degrees, Andrews Heat for Hire, CarFinance247, Express Solicitors and Skoda UK. This amazing season would also not have been possible without the amazing support from the whole Toksport WRT team”