The 2300 Club’s John Easson Award winner from 2013 has just won the ERC title in a very tense final round in Hungary. Again partnered with Ross Whittock in their Toksport Fabia R5 they endured a very slippery event and very poor conditions. The pair had a puncture and lost valuable time in leg 2 along with other championship rivals. When asked about the conditions Chris said “it’s just like Manchester”. They managed to keep on pace to finish 4th overall, only 2 positions behind their nearest rival Lukyanuk. This ensured the Championship win. A very well deserved result for the whole team and financial supporters. Unlike some of the other teams they didn’t have the financial backing, even resorting to crowd funding for the last 2 rounds. So a very inspirational season with his 2019 goal completed. One more step on the ladder to Chris’s master plan to become WRC champion by 2023.
All junior drivers and Co-drivers should be inspired by this pair. Even when times were hard and the money had run dry, they didn’t give up. With hard work and determination, anything is possible. An inspiration to us all.
You can read more about Chris’s Master Plan HERE
The Club Champion
It was late November 2018 when it was announced that Lincolnshire’s junior rally ace George Lepley had won the 2300 Club’s 2018 John Easson Award. After entering the competition for 4 years, his persistence had finally paid off. George had shown some serious promise, having won the BTRDA 2wd Championship for the 2018 season. 2300 Club members, not to mention Award scheme manager Allan Durham, were all excited to see what George could bring to the 2019 season.
The new Award winner had planned to take part in the British Rally Championship 2wd with all things in place. Exciting times ahead for 2019 with the John Easson Award covering George’s entry fees up-to a maximum of £5,000, with a bonus of £1,000 if he won the Championship. This would be a big help to George’s finances.
Unfortunately by mid January his plans had fallen through with his main sponsor pulling out. All rally plans were shelved. It was also George’s final year at university so he announced with great sadness that he would not be rallying for the first half of the year and would be concentrating on his degree. Although 2300 Club were disappointed they understood his predicament, but knowing what he was capable of would support him later in the year.
However just two weeks later, at the beginning of February, another door opened. A very different opportunity came from the BTRDA Championship headline sponsor Baz Jordan. He offered a historic spec, 8 valve Hillman Avenger to George for the Cambrian Rally. George grabbed this opportunity with both hands.
As it happened 2300 Club were marshalling on the Cambrian Rally with a strong turn out of 13 Marshalls, all dying to see this historic Avenger in action in George’s capable hands. Positioned with the club’s historic 40 year old banner, proudly sited on a decent bend on the stage, George’s pace was truly outstanding. He looked very fast and was on a par with the modern cars. The results that day tell the story!
- 1st overall 2wd BTRDA silver star (includes modern 2wd)
- 1st overall Historic cup
- 1st overall Junior driver
Beating modern machinery with the historic car, was it a fluke or a sign of things to come?
Mr Jordan was more than happy with the results on the Cambrian, leaving the Avenger with George for the next event. 2 weeks later it was the Malcolm Wilson Rally based in Cumbria. The 2nd round of the BTRDA rally would have the usual early March treacherous conditions, proving a difficult rally for the Avenger. George had a few issues in stages 7 & 8 which put him just outside the top 10. Still an incredible result in such bad conditions, beating many modern 4wd cars.
- 11th overall (in the thick of the modern 4wd machinery)
- 1st 2wd Silver Star
- 1st overall Historic cup
- Best presented car at scrutineering.
So another fantastic result. A theme is emerging with George and the Avenger getting along well!
April brought the Rallynuts Stages Rally in mid Wales, where things did not quite go to plan. Time was lost due to a differential problem, so George had to work hard to stay in the mix. But looking at the results you would never know:
- 1st 2wd Silver Star
- 1st overall Historic cup
- 1st overall Junior driver
The Plains Rally was next in May. Still in the Avenger, there was a chance of a Championship win, If the results kept coming. George lost time in stage 2 with a puncture but still managed 10th overall again against modern 4wd machinery. Brilliant result going into the mid season break. He found himself on the front cover of UK Rally Scene magazine, a mid season highlight.
It was also time to finish the Chemical Engineering Degree at the University of Nottingham with, you guessed it, another first.
Leading the Championship standings for most classes, it was back to business in the Nicky Grist Stages Rally, again in Wales. This was where the BTRDA Silver Star(2wd) and the Historic cup Championships were won, after just five of the seven rounds.
An incredible season, after the disappointment in January, to elation in July. Not only was George Lepley the star driver, he also made the little Avenger an unlikely star with fans of its own. George and the Avenger beat all the modern R2 cars, modern high power RWD cars and the best of the historic Escorts and drivers in the country. George commented “this car flies like a bird & entertains like a comedian” and I only originally borrowed it for one event! Time to hand it back to a very pleased Baz Jordan. With the Championship won, time to do the last two rounds in 4wd.
In August’s Woodpecker Stages Rally George would compete in a Mitsubishi Evo 10 Clubman B13 spec car. Not quite the power of the WRC or R5 cars, but very capable, with the following results:
- 1st Gold star
- 2nd Overall
Proving he could not only challenge but beat WRC and R5 cars, he set 3 fastest times on 5 stages with pace, control and smoothness to beat the best drivers in BTRDA.
The final round was at Septembers Trackrod Rally Yorkshire. Seeded 3rd did prove that George was there to take on the big boys. Finishing the last stage with the fastest overall time. Results may have been better with a different tyre choice.
- 3rd overall
- 1st B13 (non R5/WRC)
I don’t think we will see a season as good as this for a long time. 2300 Club does not have a club champion, as it is a club of organisers, but George Lepley, wearing the 2300 Club John Easson Award Decals on his cars, certainly championed our Club.
A young Chris Ingram applied for the 2013 John Easson Award
“Rally is in my blood. I am driven by my ambition of becoming World Rally Champion and dedicate every day working towards achieving my goals so that not only myself, but my team and my partners will benefit.”
MASTERPLAN “World Rally Champion 2023”
Just turned 20 years old from Manchester, it was quite clear to the judging panel early on in the process that Chris was going somewhere with his confidence and ability to sell himself with pure ambition. He even had a masterplan, just like a business plan, detailing every step and goal along the way in order to achieve his dream of becoming WRC Champion. This set him apart from an already top class entry list. He was even learning French to attract the co-driver he wanted to work with. Late in 2013 it was announced that Chris Ingram had received the award.
With a prize fund of £4,000 contributing to Chris’s entry fees, his chosen rallies for the 2014 season were in the ERC Junior series. Teaming up with French co-driver Gabin Moreau, using a Renault Twingo, the pair showed a very good pace early in the season. Unfortunately they crashed out of the Circuit of Ireland rally, with a very badly damaged car. It looked like their season was over, however, this is where Chris’s ability to sell himself came in. He persuaded Renault to give him a new body shell, bearing in mind Chris’s car was privately funded with no ties to Renault. They too must have seen his potential. With the car ready for the Rally of the Azores in August they finished a credible 2nd in the junior category. The pace was there, the win had to come. Later that month the pair were signed by Peugeot UK to run in a 208 r2. Their financial worries over, they could get down to the business of driving. Rewarding Peugeot UK with their first class win at WRC Wales Rally GB . A fabulous result to the end a great season. 2300club were very proud to support.
The following three seasons would produce great results, ticking off their goals on the way to becoming WRC champion. Teaming up with Peugeot UK then Opel Motorsport, Chris secured one of his main goals to become 2017 under 27 ERC 2wd Champion. Another great result was a class win of over 9 minutes, at Wales Rally GB. Some fabulous results for the team.
Chris Ingram partnered with co-driver Ross Whittock in the Fabia r5 for the 2018 season in 4wd. They were with the privately funded Toksport WRT Skoda Team. They competed against factory and big budget teams with brilliant results. However at the start of the 2019 season the pair found themselves with serious financial worries as their main sponsor had pulled out, putting this years step in the masterplan of becoming the ERC 4wd Champion at risk. Due to Chris’s sheer determination to succeed and to sell himself, he has managed to fund his way through 6 of 8 rounds of the ERC. With the pair leading the Championship by 1 point the funding ran dry, they have had an incredible journey to get this far. Their last event was Barum Czech Rally which had a winning prize fund of €100,000, this could have made all the difference, but sadly was not to be. The pair were leading this rally going into the last stage, when on the last corner of the last stage, the car slid slightly wide losing first position and the prize money by 0.3 of a second. Chris now needs as much support as he can get to finish the season and to stand a chance of being the first British winner of the ERC in 52 years.
There is a GOFUNDME.COM set up by his mum Jo Ingram on his facebook page @chrisingramrally.
Please get behind him & help make this masterplan happen.