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Rallying’s resilient warrior – Chris Ingram’s partnership push 

November 25, 2022

Britain’s first European Rally Champion in 52 years is mixing it at the front on the world’s rally stages; Chris Ingram is now seeking like-minded brand partners to accelerate his journey to the top. 

For brands looking to partner with a born-and-bred success story in motorsport, the obvious go-to choices reside in F1. Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Lando Norris are all household names because of their racing successes and their off-track activities. Yet, if you dig a little deeper beneath the shiny veneer of Formula 1, there are countless alternatives who are ready and waiting for a spotlight to shine on them. 

When Manchester-born rally driver Chris Ingram won the European Rally Championship in 2019, he became the first Brit to take the crown in 52 years. A huge achievement but one that flew largely under the radar. Were it not for the tenacity of Chris and the hundreds of loyal supporters who helped to crowdfund him to the title, he might have been confined to a brief Wikipedia entry; but the zero to hero story was certainly one that captured the public and media interest. 

Chris has continued to fight his way up the rally ladder against all odds. From humble beginnings, the 28-year-old moved into the WRC2 class for 2022 and impressed instantly. Yet, he continues to need financial support from brand partners and investors to make his dream of winning the WRC title a reality. We sat down with Chris at the end of a positive year personally and professionally to discover why the self-titled Rally Warrior just won’t give up… 

Chris, tell us how the 2022 season went from your perspective? 

“I exceeded my own expectations this season. My first full season in WRC2 competing against the best drivers in the world, and a lot of factory drivers. I was consistently the first privateer and consistently mixing in with the top guys in the class, a lot of whom are WRC1 drivers fighting for a seat. It’s been an amazing season with loads of top results, stage wins, podiums, and junior wins. Unfortunately, it ended with a big crash in Greece, but it was my first crash in six or seven seasons – which is probably a record! It was disappointing to end the season like that, but I’m not being too hard on myself.” 

You’ve had some tough times when it comes to rallying, how were you able to fund your seat this season in WRC2? 

“When I won the European Rally Championship just before COVID I thought ‘that was it, I’ve made it and I’m going to get all the support I need’. It’s been a constant battle every season to get behind the wheel, but then COVID hit, and I lost all my funding because everyone was going through hard times – partnerships and sponsorships were not high up on the agenda at that point. Luckily, after 18 months without competing, I managed to secure the funding required to compete at WRC level. I did that by forming my company ‘Rally Warrior’; they own all my rights and sold shares in the company. I’ve managed to create relationships with a few brands that can benefit from the promotion the WRC offers, but I’m always in need of more.” 

What are your goals for the future with Rally Warrior? 

“I want to give something back to the sport through Rally Warrior because of all the support I’ve had over the years; I want to help other young drivers come through. One of my goals is to help the next young talent come through, I’m planning to launch some young driver academy days through Rally Warrior next season.” 

With rally events lasting longer than typical circuit racing, what parts do you think make rallying more attractive? 

“The fact that the rallies run over several days makes the action, and the opportunities for storytelling so much stronger. You could get a whole Netflix show out of one WRC event, look at the places we get to go to; the different terrains and different conditions that you just don’t get in any other motorsport.” 

What’s your favourite rally to go to?  

“Oh, Monte Carlo! It starts in prestigious Casino Square and then we go and drive the first stages at night an hour up into the mountains. It can be icy, snowy, dry tarmac which is a mix of everything and it’s such a tactical challenge.” 

You’re Manchester born-and-bred; how did you end up in rallying in the first place? 

“My dad used to compete in road rallies in the 1980s, something that was very popular in the UK. He was a really good driver but just never took it seriously enough because he never thought he could make a career out of it. He took me to watch the Malton Rally when I was about eight years old, and I just loved everything about it. I’ve been obsessed with it ever since and have been set on chasing my dream. Dad helped me start out initially in a little 1.0l Citroen C1, then I won the Junior Championship aged 16, got my road driving license, won my class on some UK national rallies, and then had the opportunity to enter the European Championship with Renault. That was in my own car, which I had a huge crash in and destroyed, but the pace I had shown led me to getting picked up by Peugeot Sport when I was 19 and I got a fully funded two-year deal with them. I then impressed Opel who were champions at the time, took the move there and won the Junior Championship with them which started leading to the big leagues in the 4×4 cars. In my second year of that I won the European Championship as the youngest winner ever and the first Brit to win it overall in 52 years.”  

Your 2019 ERC title was an epic result, wasn’t it? 

“Oh, definitely. That rally alone was like a movie; we didn’t know if we had won. The drama of being stuck alone in the middle of a forest, in the middle of nowhere with no phone signal was insane, then we finally got the news from the FIA that we had won on points. I got to go to the FIA Awards having made history, meet Lewis Hamilton and so many other motorsport legends.” 

You posted some comparison pictures of yourself back in April of this year and highlighted some mental health challenges. Talk us through that… 

“That picture was taken just after the end of lockdown and it had been a year since I had been in a rally car, right after winning the championship. I was working every day to get my career back on track but not taking care of myself, mentally or physically. The fact that all my efforts weren’t getting me anywhere massively got me down. I didn’t look after myself of speak up about it to get any support, and it drove me to a really bad place. At that time, I could have given up so easily, but I just can’t give up on my dream. I really believe I have the ability to be the World Champion and I won’t give up.”  

When you were taking the photo on the left, could you tell how bad it was? 

“Not really, I think most of the time when you’re in it you really can’t see it. It takes someone else helping you, so when I reached out and got some support both mentally and physically it led to a whole load of better things. A new routine, getting my confidence back, some realisation – all those things helped me. The only thing that was left was my rally career and getting that back on track, the hunger and desire has never gone away.” 

Did seeing those pictures encourage you to consciously check in on yourself? 

“My mental health and wellbeing are now my main priorities every single day. Every single morning consists of training, and I’ve been supported by CPASE Health Club up in Cheshire. I’ve started yoga too which has become a huge thing for me, I didn’t get it before I did it but now it’s vital for me. I have coaching support to help with the many different types of training I do alongside a lot of journaling and listen to audiobooks.” 

What can you offer brands when they embark on a journey with you? 

“I can work around what a brand partner requests and needs to drive their business. Some brands like to have the visibility on myself, the car and my other platforms to benefit from the exposure through social media or TV appearances. Other have shares in my future success via Rally Warrior. Ultimately, partnerships are a win-win relationship. I have achieved so much with the support that I have received, winning the European title and fighting at the front in WRC2; if I can do that with the level of support I’ve had so far, just imagine what could be accomplished with even more support. The more people who are part of the Rally Warrior army, the better.” 

If you’d like to support Chris on his WRC journey, drop us a line.  


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