Chris Ingram will follow in the wheel tracks of his rallying heroes Richard Burns and Colin McRae when he embarks on an FIA World Rally Championship adventure for the first time.
The 26-year-old from Manchester in the United Kingdom won the FIA European Rally Championship in 2019, the first Briton to do so since motorsport all-rounder Vic Elford claimed the coveted title 52 years previously.
He has joined forces with the vastly successful SXM Competition team from Belgium to pilot a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo. Fellow Briton Ross Whittock, 29, will co-drive. Whittock was previously awarded the Michael ‘Beef’ Park Trophy for the highest ranked British co-driver under 25 on Wales Rally GB. He also won the European title with Chris.
“I have known Chris and Ross already for some time and I’m sure they form a fantastic team together. I think that we all have the same goal for 2021. We all want to show our potential and that’s why I believe so much in it, ” said Fred Miclotte from SXM Competition. Having previously Crowdfunded his rallying career, Chris starts his World Rally Championship programme in a very different situation with growing support from commercial brands. Under the Rally Warrior banner and with SG Financial and Fladgate acting as advisors, Chris Ingram has secured a number of new sponsorships, backing his world title ambition.
Adam Shore, Director of Rally Warrior said, “Chris has battled for several years to finance his career. We felt the desire to step in and make sure Chris and Ross are given the chance at WRC which they deserve. They exemplify resilience and outstanding performance, and fans really want to see these rising stars compete.”
Rally Warrior has announced long standing supporter, CarFinance 247 as key partner of Chris Ingram. “We’ve been part of Chris’s journey for the past four years and have been continually inspired by his dedication, skill, and willingness to triumph over adversity,” said Louis Rix, co-CEO of CarFinance 247.
Chris also announces further partnerships with Protec, Kroon-Oil, Fleetback, WS Transportation, HAH Whisky, Stilo Helmets and race-wear partner FreeM, who are all backing his campaign to reach the highest level. Ingram is hard at work preparing for the first event of his debut season at World Rally Championship level at the Croatia Rally, which gets underway in the capital Zagreb on April 22. The Tarmac event, a new addition to the WRC calendar for 2021, will mark the start of a six-event WRC3 programme for Chris and Ross ahead of WRC2 bid in 2022.
Chris, a 4-time FIA title winner, who won the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy on only his third start in the ERC, plans to announce the remainder of this 2021 schedule in due course. What will be the realisation of a childhood ambition follows more than a year of struggles with mental health and battles to secure the funding needed to compete in the WRC.
“There have been some really tough moments to get this far but it feels so special to be able to say I’m a World Rally Championship driver,” said Ingram. “I’ve given everything I have to get this opportunity and I have so many people to thank and so much to be grateful for. “Winning the ERC title in 2019 opened up lots of doors and I was close to landing a really good drive in 2020. The pandemic slammed all those doors shut, but I never gave up and never stopped believing my dream would come true. I’m so lucky to have this chance.
“It’s a two-year programme and I can’t lose sight of that fact. It’s been almost 18 months since I last drove a top level rally car so I’ve got to build up my confidence, learn the events and adapt to the championship because it’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done. The World rally rounds are another level. I’m going to give it everything.”