Ingram and Whittock officially crowned FIA ERC champions, join Lewis Hamilton on stage in Paris
Chris Ingram and Ross Whittock have been officially crowned as the winners of the FIA European Rally Championship for 2019 after they were presented with their trophies at the FIA Prize Giving gala in Paris on Friday evening (6 December).
The ceremony, which was held this year at the Carrousel du Louvre in the French capital, traditionally marks the point when FIA titles are confirmed.
It means Ingram, who was co-driven by compatriot Whittock, is officially the first Briton since Vic Elford in 1967 to capture regional rallying’s top prize. Aged 25, Ingram is also the youngest ERC champion since Esapekka Lappi lifted the trophy as a 23-year-old in 2014.
Driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for Toksport WRT, Ingram – the 2017 FIA ERC3 Junior champion – battled financial issues all season but persevered and took the ERC title in a dramatic final stage showdown on Rally Hungary last month. Initially fearing the championship was lost after they picked up a puncture on the closing run and dropped from third to fourth, despair turned to joy for Ingram and Whittock when rivals Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov suffered a tyre deflation of their own and slipped from first to second in the rally order, which was enough to put Ingram and Whittock on top of the title table.
Ingram said: “It was always a dream to be European champion and the fact it had been more than 50 years since a Brit last won it makes it even more special for me. It’s one of the biggest things I can achieve in my life. To do it so soon, I’m 25 years old, I’m very proud. I’m already thinking what can I do now, what’s the next thing? But this is a lifetime ambition of mine and a dream come true.”
Whittock, 28, said: “It’s massive for me. I’ve only been co-driving for five years and to achieve this in five years is just incredible. I started from the bottom in the UK and just worked my way up and luckily got the opportunity with Chris two and a half years ago to start in the ERC with relatively low experience. I’ve learned all my experience of international rallying in the ERC and to finally win it and to call myself an international champion is just an incredible feeling.”
In the company of FIA President Jean Todt, a number of other FIA champions were honoured at the Prize Giving event. They included FIA Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, FIA World Rally Championship winners Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, plus Fernando Alonso, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, who were awarded for their capture of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship.