JOHN Ingram opened his 2018 account with a double victory as he and British Superbike star Brad Ray bagged two wins apiece at the EMRA season opener.
The Wigan bike ace returned to his stomping ground at Mallory Park to prepare for an upcoming challenge in Thundersport’s GP1 series – where he reigned supreme in 2013.
But ‘The Ram’ had to lock horns with both pal Phil Crowe, whose signature hunt ended prematurely with a low side crash at Edwina’s halfway through the event, and lap record-holder Ray.
Along with CB500 whiz Richard Cooper, the 20-year-old Race of the Year winner fronts the Buildbase Suzuki BSB squad this season – which is known to use its home base at Mallory as a proving ground.
Ray was doing anything but testing the waters, however, when he stormed to pole on the damp Leicestershire circuit as he snatched the top spot from Ingram and Paul Westerdale for both the Superbike Trophy and Allcomers races.
But when the lights went out for the first Trophy race, Ray suffered difficulties and dropped to the back of the pack as Ingram took the lead ahead of fellow former GP1 champ Curtis Wright. And despite a charging Leon Jeacock, Ingram held on for victory by 0.224sec.
In the opening Allcomers scrap, Ray clearly had his issues sorted as he soared into the lead from the off, the chasing pack powerless as he stretched a nearly seven-second lead at the flag and cruised home ahead of Ingram and Jeacock.
It looked to be a repeat win for the Suzuki man in the second Trophy battle, but after leading the first four laps he disappeared from view and Ingram assumed the lead on the Fleetwood BMW, comfortably leading Jeacock and Westerdale over the line.
But Ray wasn’t about to end the day without another trip to the top step of the podium. Despite leisurely cruising to the fastest lap of the race, a full second over his own Mallory Park lap record from the 2017 Race of the Year, the BSB rostrum man powered across the line nearly six seconds clear of Ingram and 12 ahead of Jeacock.
While Ray gears up for the Easter weekend BSB season opener at Donington Park, Ingram will be getting set for his full-time Thundersport return in less than two weeks at the same track.
*Images: Dirk Wharton