The talented 20-year old Manchester-based driver was competing against 15 other ERC Junior drivers, many of whom are from the local Baltic states and Scandinavia and who have vastly more experience of driving with studded tyres on icy forest gravel roads.
Yet Chris and his French co-driver Gabin Moreau never let the ice masters get out of sight. In fact Chris twice set the third fastest stage time (on SS5 and SS10) in his Union Flag liveried PEUGEOT 208 – only beaten over those slippery winter stages by a Latvian and a Swedish driver.
The conditions for this year’s Rally Liepāja were the most challenging anyone has ever seen, with thawing ice and slippery wet snow on day one and heavy blizzards of snow and freezing fog on day two. Despite skidding off the road once into a field on SS7, losing 90 seconds as spectators helped the PEUGEOT Financial Services and TOTAL Lubricants supported car back onto the road, Chris completed all 11 stages to achieve his aim of a good points-scoring finish.
Speaking at the end of Rally Liepāja, Chris commented: “Finishing sixth is not quite the result we wanted but these have been some of the most difficult stages I have ever done in my life and it’s been an incredible experience. I wanted to start the ERC Junior season off with a good points-scoring finish and against strong local and Scandinavian competition who have more experience of rallying on snow, that’s exactly what we’ve done. The next three rounds in Ireland, Azores and Ypres are my strongest rallies of the series, so the championship for us really starts in Belfast on Easter Bank Holiday weekend [2-4 April], where we’ll be aiming for ERC Junior victory.
“Rally Liepāja has been an incredible experience, the PEUGEOT 208 ‘R2’ is absolutely brilliant to drive and I’m learning all the time in it. I’d like to thank PEUGEOT UK for giving me this incredible opportunity to compete in the ERC Junior Championship. It’s been a good start, and I’m looking forward to our next event, in better conditions - on Tarmac.”
Ireland’s Craig Breen, driving a PEUGEOT Rally Academy 208 T16, won Rally Liepāja outright.
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 208 design.
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 by PEUGEOT Sport. Kits will be available to convert the gravel version to asphalt, and vice-versa.
Follow @PeugeotRally on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news on Chris Ingram and his rally driving adventure.
Chris Ingram’s key achievements to date
- Won the R2 class in the Rally GB Wales
- 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
FIA ERC Junior Championship 2015 (provisional) calendar
|01: Rally Liepāja (Latvia, gravel/ice/snow): 02: Circuit of Ireland Rally (Northern Ireland, asphalt): 03: SATA Rallye Açores (Portugal, gravel): 04: Geko Ypres Rally (Belgium, asphalt): 05: auto24 Rally Estonia (gravel): 06: Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czech Republic, asphalt):||6-8 February 2-4 April 4-6 June 25-27 June 17-19 July* 28-30 August|
*Subject to signing of ERC Promoter agreement