Chris Ingram wants to become the first ERC champion since 1967

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Chris Ingram wants to become the first British driver since Vic Elford in 1967 to win the European Rally Championship after confirming his entry on the Azores Rallye, the opening event of the 2019 season.

Ingram is still working to secure the funding needed to mount a full-season title attack, but hopes a successful start to his campaign on the Ponta Delgada-based event will help his search for backing.

He will continue with the Toksport WRT outfit alongside co-driver and fellow Briton Ross Whittock for what will be his sixth season in the ERC, the ultimate training ground for young drivers aiming for the top.

“We’ve had quite a few setbacks with sponsorship but we’re not giving up, we want to be the first British European champion for more than 50 years, it’s a lifetime ambition,” said the 2017 ERC Junior Under 27 champion. “I’ve been working towards that since I came into this championship in 2014 and with Toksport and the ŠKODA Fabia R5 I have the best chance to do that. But now I need the support to carry on with Toksport. Without them, Michelin, CarFinance247, Andrews Heat for Hire, ŠKODA UK and a number of individuals, I wouldn’t be here so I want to thank them for believing in me. As soon as I get back from the Azores I will be working flat out on getting the budget to carry on.”

Ingram, 24, finished runner-up to Nikolay Gryazin in the battle for ERC Junior Under 28 glory in a three-way final-round decider in Latvia last October. As well as chasing the renamed ERC1 Junior title, Ingram will be among the favourites to claim the title outright this year based on his impressive performances in 2018, his first season in R5 machinery, which began with a class victory on the Azores Rallye.

“We are really pleased Chris has once again decided to prove his talent in the ERC,” said Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator. “Chris has the ability to challenge for the overall European championship title and make it to the very top of the sport. We hope a second season in ERC1 will give him the springboard his ability deserves.”

The winner of the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship for young stars in R5 cars, which will be decided on Barum Czech Rally Zlín from 16-18 August, gets 100,000 euros for their participation on the ERC season-closing events in Cyprus and Hungary in an R5 car and with a team they choose. By contesting these two rallies, the ERC1 Junior champion could also be in a position to challenge for the overall ERC title, won in the past by Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Jan Kopecký, Esapekka Lappi and Alexey Lukyanuk.  The Cyprus Rally uses all-gravel stages from 27-29 September. The all-asphalt Rally Hungary is from 8-10 November.

Talented Cypriot Alex Tsouloftas will complete the Toksport WRT ERC1 Junior entry.