Currently ranked the #1 Rally driver in England (Autosport Rankings)
Signs with Opel Motorsport – German factory team for the ERC
Won First FIA title (FIA ERC3) –
Two Wheel Drive European Rally Champion
European Vice-Junior champion
5/5 consecutive ERC podiums with Opel Motorsport
Peugeot UK – European Junior Rally Championship
1st ERC Victory –
Rally Azores; 1st Junior, 1st 2 wheel drive car & Colin McRae ‘Flat Out’ Trophy winner. Podium at ERC Circuit of Ireland.
Fastest driver – FIA World Rallycross Talent-Search Shootout
1st in class – WRC Wales Rally GB with the Peugeot UK 208
Signed with Peugeot UK becoming the youngest manufacture backed UK rally driver since Richard Burns
2 ERC Podiums in Azores & Ypres
ERC Colin McRae Award – Youngest ever recipient
Rewarded at the ERC Circuit of Ireland driving Renault Twingo R2.
1st R2 – WRC Debut – Wales Rally GB [Renault R2]
John Easson UK Young Rally Driver Award
MSA UK Young Driver of the Year
Renault Sport R2 UK Trophy winner
– Factory prize drive on Rallye Du Var
British Junior F1000 Champion – age 16
Rally driving is in Chris Ingram’s blood. He got the driving passion from his father Jon, who won UK Rallies in two different decades (1980s in a Talbot Sunbeam, and 2000’s in a Subaru Impreza). Chris always dreamed of getting behind the wheel for himself, and got the opportunity when the F1000 Junior Rally Championship was launched in the UK for drivers aged between 14 and 17. He came 2nd in his first season in 2010, and then dominated the series in 2011 winning 6 out of the 7 races (in a 1 litre Citroen C1!).
As soon as Chris turned 17, he got his road driving license and could compete with the ‘adults’ on proper rally events. He won his class on his debut forest rally in his very own Junior spec Citroen C1. It was at the end of 2011 when Chris believed he had a special talent and his dream of becoming a professional rally driver would be worth pursuing.
17 year old Chris along with his supportive family and friends put their first sponsorship deals together with local companies which helped finance a new rally car. After a promising test in a Renault Twingo R2, a car was purchased from France and the family team entered the pinnacle of UK rallying – the 2012 MSA British Rally Championship, straight away. During this first season, Chris won, crashed and won again taking victory in the Renault Sport R2 Trophy which prize was a fully funded drive on Rallye du Var in a works Clio R3.
18 year old Chris finished the hugely demanding rally 5th in class against strong and experienced competition from the French locals.
His achievements on the stages in 2012 were rewarded when Chris was selected as a finalist for the MSA Young Driver of the Year shootout along with four single-seater racing stars. The judging panel which included former World Rally Champion co-driver Robert Reid and F1 legend David Brabham, came to a decision to crown Chris as the 2012 winner.
Chris became the first rally driver to win the MSA Young driver of the Year award at the MSA’s end of season “Night of Champions” prize giving.
In 2013, Chris continued competing in his Twingo R2 and decided to chase more learning opportunities. He competed on selected French and British Championship rounds, including making his debut in the World and European Rally Championships, winning the R2 class on his World Rally debut at Wales Rally GB.
2014 was the main turning point in Chris’ career entering the inaugural FIA European Junior Rally Championship with support from Renault Sport Technologies. He had joined new French co-driver Gabin Moreau and became the youngest ever winner of the prestigious ERC Colin McRae Trophy in April, after leading the Circuit of Ireland round in the Junior category at the age of 19, also lying an incredible 8th overall in his little Twingo R2 before crashing out on Stage 13 in true McRae style. WRC driver Kris Meeke awarded Chris with the trophy and having watched Chris in action on the challenging stages, Meeke said: “Unfortunately he went off the road today but his hard-charging efforts yesterday I have to say were absolutely outstanding in his wee Renault Twingo R2. His commitment over those crests was fantastic and he’s a worthy winner of the Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy.”
Despite the financial blow of damaging his personally owned car, the achievement and pace shown was a huge step forward. With thanks to Renault Sport and JB Malherbe Racing team, Ingram was given the opportunity to continue in the ERC and gained two ERC Junior podiums at the next rounds, his first visit to the infamous Azores Rally (P2) and back at the Ypres tarmac event (P3).
Renault Sport were impressed with the European Championship performances and offered Chris a test in their new Clio R3T which turned out to be his last drive of a Renault car.
Behind the scenes Peugeot Sport and Peugeot UK had come together to offer the young Brit support and a contract until the end of 2014 (later extended to end of 2015). A rare opportunity in Motorsport which saw Chris become the youngest works rally driver since Richard Burns, signing for Peugeot UK at the age of 20. An ecstatic Chris commented at the time “This is a true dream come true and a career changing opportunity. I will work as hard as possible and hope to repay Peugeot UK for their belief in my ability! The 208 R2 is a very strong contender and I’m confident we can be on the pace from the beginning”
In his debut year as a professional rally driver Chris won his class for the second time at WRC Wales Rally GB in the 208 R2, as well as taking a magnificent first ERC Junior & ERC 2WD victory on the spectacular Rallye Azores against 20 of the World’s best young rally drivers, picking up his career-second Colin McRae Trophy along the way from ERC Championship manager Jean-Pierre Nicolas. J-P Nicolas commented “it was a magnificent performance with world class potential”.
During the 2015 season he also became the first driver to get behind the wheel of both the Group B Peugeot 205 T16 and the modern day Peugeot 208 R5 T16. Ingram also appeared on Peugeot TV and online advertisements, received 1.5 million video views, finished on the Junior podium at the ERC Circuit of Ireland, and won the “Fastest driver” in the inaugural World Rallycross Talent-Search shootout by setting 3/3 fastest laps in the RX Lites machines against 11 other young British talents.
The remainder of the season with Peugeot UK was a character building experience for Chris, missing out on the European Junior title battle to Opel Motorsport with three retirements; a mechanical problem, technical problem and finally a big crash at the infamous Barum Rally hospitalising Chris.
Chris finished the season making his Junior WRC debut in a Citroen DS3 R3 at Wales Rally GB and sat in a comfortable 2nd place before retiring on the road section to the penultimate stage. Chris’s co-driver Gabin Moreau was set to leave the team after two fantastic seasons, and joined WRC Citroen factory driver Stephane Lefebvre over the winter break.
Chris had impressed bosses at Opel Motorsport who had followed his 2015 performances against their European factory drivers, and following a meeting in Germany, Chris was offered a contract in January 2016 and the opportunity to join their reigning European championship winning team to go for his first international title.
Switching from the French Peugeot team to the German Opel factory setup, Chris took the decision to recruit renowned German co-driver Kat Becker. They set off to a fantastic start with Opel leading the European Junior and two-wheel drive championships after three consecutive 2nd place podium finishes in the ERC (Rd1 Ireland, Rd2 Azores, Rd3 Ypres). They also won their class on a German Championship event (Sachsen Rally). The early season highlights were leading the Azores after setting a 7th overall stage time on the brutal “Sete Cidades” volcano stage – 20 seconds faster than the nearest junior, along with a close battle swapping seconds with team mate Marijan Griebel in Ypres, a rivalry which continued on every event.
During his busy European schedule, Chris was invited to drive a classic Opel Manta at the ‘Race Retro’ UK motor show alongside former British rally champion and Opel/Vauxhall works driver Russell Brookes. The opportunity lead to Chris agreeing a partnership with the iconic rally sponsor Andrews Heat for Hire. The same company that formerly enjoyed a record-breaking 17 year long sponsorship with Russell Brookes between 1974 and 1991. The rally legend commented after watching Chris drive his classic Manta “I think we have a future champion with Chris, lets hope he wins the European Championship and brings it back to Britain”.
During the mid-season break, the decision was made to team up with fellow 21 year old Brit Elliott Edmondson who came available mid-season and the duo quickly became the young Brits to watch. Despite running first on the road at ERC Estonia (Rd4), a huge disadvantage on gravel, they finished 3rd. The Brits competed on the WRC ADAC Rallye Deutschland but retired early into the event before bouncing back in a week later getting a big win and their first victory together at the ERC Barum Czech Rally (Rd5). Chris dominated the event claiming it to be his best tarmac performance to date, the victory and point score theoretically clinched Chris the 2016 FIA 2WD European title!
The Junior championship decider came down to the wire on the 6th and final round in Latvia, with Chris and German team-mate Marijan Griebel incredibly dead-level in a joint lead to the milli-second after Stage 8. Chris was forced to retire with a technical problem during the final stages but went on to secure the overall FIA ERC two-wheel drive title and the vice-junior championship – becoming the first Brit to win a European Rally Championship title for 49 years.
The performances with Opel in the ERC were closely followed by sister UK company Vauxhall Network Q who signed 2x Wales Rally GB class winner Chris for the event to end the season. Despite an eventful rally and retiring from Day 1, Chris and Elliott got the ADAM R2 home with a podium finish for the team and sponsors to celebrate a fantastic season.
To be continued!