Like many car-mad 20-year-olds, Chris Ingram’s dream is to win the World Rally Championship, but unlike the vast majority of his peers, the Manchester born driver has already shown sufficient promise to secure the backing of a major car maker.
After becoming the first rally driver to lift the MSA’s prestigious Young Driver of the Year award, Chris became the youngest competitor to win the sought-after ‘Colin McRae European Rally Championship (ERC) Flat Out trophy’ for his commitment behind the wheel. He then won the R2 Class for front-wheel drive cars on his WRC debut at the 2013 Wales Rally GB. These successes were sufficient to catch the eye of Peugeot Sport and Chris will now compete in the remaining rounds of the FIA ERC Junior Championship at the wheel of a 208 R2 backed by Peugeot UK and Peugeot Financial Services.
It’s been a rapid rise for Chris since he left his college course to pursue his dream. The former film and TV student became the youngest driver to score points in the British Rally Championship, aged 17 in 2012. The following year he won the John Easson Award for young rally drivers. He is currently lying third in the FIA ERC Junior Championship and is ranked as the number one under-21 rally driver in the world by Autosport magazine.
Chris is following in the wheel tracks of his heroes – former world rally champions Colin McRae and Richard Burns – by pursuing his career in a Peugeot. And he has already impressed the team with his pace while testing the 208 R2. Speaking about the fulfilment of his dream, Chris said: “I’m really grateful to Peugeot Sport for the chance to drive the 208 R2. This presents a great opportunity for me to show Peugeot what I’m capable of in the pursuit of my goals to become European Rally Champion. In my opinion the 208 is the most competitive front-wheel-drive ERC car and I look forward to putting it through its paces. I’m also humbled to be following in the footsteps of my heroes, so I’ll be keeping the finish line firmly in my sights!”
Chris will make his Peugeot International rally debut in the European Rally Championship round in Barum, Czech Republic (29th-31st August 2014), in Switzerland at the International du Valais Rally (23rd–25th October 2014) and at the famous championship finale – the Tour de Corse in France (6th–8th November 2014).
Chris Ingram’s key achievements to date:
- Colin McRae ERC Flat Out trophy 2014 Circuit of Ireland Rally – youngest driver to win the accolade
- Entered Junior ERC events in 2014 (finished 2nd in Azores, 3rd in Ypres, Belgium and was leading the UK round in Northern Ireland before crashing out)
- Goodwood Festival of Speed 2013 and 2014 – invited driver
- WRC debut on Wales Rally GB. First in R2 class
- Winner of the 2013 John Easson Award for young rally drivers
- UK Renault Sport R2 Trophy winner 2012 and 2013
- ‘MSA Young Driver of the Year 2012’ first rally driver ever to win the award
- Rally Du Var 2012 – official drive in Renault Clio R3
- 2012 youngest driver to score points in the British Rally Championship (aged 17)
- 2011 British Junior 1000 Rally Champion – with 7 overall victories
Peugeot 208 R2 Rally Car
The Peugeot 208 Rally car is constructed to ERC competition specification ‘R2’ and designed to be an affordable competitive start in professional rallying. Produced by Peugeot Sport, it features a styled design derived from the popular road-going 208 with evolutionary styling – with short overhangs and a flowing transition between the bonnet and windscreen pillars, emphasising the latest signature appearance. Compared to the 207 it replaced, the 208’s body-shell is around 40kg lighter while a longer wheelbase improves stability with a lower centre of gravity to boost the vehicle’s road-holding capabilities – an important feature in a competition-class rally car.
Safety hasn’t been sacrificed, despite the reduced weight: the 208 R2 boasts a strengthened shell with a multi-point welded roll cage – a new manufacturing process for roll cage design and a major safety feature. The 208 R2’s engine is a competition version of the 1.6-litre VTi road car engine, naturally-aspirated and producing some 185hp. This modern power-unit comes equipped with variable valve timing (VVT).
The gravel and asphalt versions of the 208 R2 are made available in kit form, including a fully-built engine. Those who prefer something a little less hands-on will also be able to buy the 208 R2 pre-built. Kits will be available to convert the gravel version to asphalt, and vice-versa.
In the last ERC event in Belgium, the Peugeot 208 R2s achieved a ‘podium lock-out’ in the 2WD class backed up by a one-two finish in the Junior standings at the 6th round of the 2014 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC). These categories were won respectively by Belgian driver Kevin Demaerschalk and French Peugeot Rally Academy ace Stéphane Lefebvre, who is currently second in both championships just behind Czech Republic entrant Jan Cerny, who similarly drives a Peugeot 208 R2.
Follow @PeugeotRally on Twitter to keep up-to-date with the latest news on Chris Ingram and his FIA ERC Junior Championship adventure.