Toyota has taken first blood in the 2016 British Touring Car Championship after Tom Ingram dominated the opening round of the series at Brands Hatch.
The win, from pole position, was both the first for Ingram and his Speedworks Motorsports team, the 22 year-old starting his third year in the series and driving an example of the Toyota Avensis that launched the BTCC’s current NGTC regulations back in 2011.
Starting from pole position, Ingram was never headed in the 27-lap race, eventually finishing over a second clear of the Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type-R of reigning champion Gordon Shedden. He in turn was chased home by team-mate Matt Neal, both Civics running their first race with new-spec engines from Honda.
As the familiar cars triumphed, the newcomers struggled, notably the new Subaru Levorgs of Team BMR. The 2014 BTCC champion Colin Turkington, who had surprised with a strong 11th-grid spot despite his car only running for the first time a day earlier, was caught up in a carnage-filled opening three laps that claimed several cars and brought the safety car onto the circuit. Biggest victim of the accidents was Ford Focus driver Alex Martin, who was sent hard in the barrier after contact with a rival.
Best of the Levorgs was eventually former champion Jason Plato in 21st spot, in what was effectively an extended test session for the four-strong Subaru squad.
Ingram will now start race two from pole position, scheduled for 2.12pm.