European Rally Championship: Chris Ingram makes history as Callum Devine finishes third

Chris Ingram
Chris Ingram and co-driver Ross Whittock are the first British winners of the European Rally Championship since Vic Elford in 1967

Chris Ingram became the first British driver to win the European Rally Championship in 52 years at Rally Hungary.

Ingram held on to claim the title with a fourth-placed finish after surviving a puncture on the final stage.

Title rival Alexy Lukyanuk also collected a flat tyre on the last run to aid Ingram's cause.

Northern Ireland's Callum Devine impressed on his ERC debut by finishing third overall.

Manchester driver Ingram knew a podium finish would be enough to take his maiden title, and the 24-year-old was on course to do so by running third heading into the final stage in torrential conditions.

However, Ingram suffered a flat front right tyre and dropped two minutes on the final stage, slipping out of the podium positions required to seal the championship.

That offered rally leader Lukyanuk the opportunity to snatch the title away from the Englishman, but the Russian was forced to stop with a puncture of his own and the reigning champion slipped to second overall.

After the dramatic ending to the rally, Ingram won the championship by nine points.

Ingram lost crucial sponsorship earlier in the season but continued to compete after his mother set up a crowdfunding page to try to enable him to compete in his Skoda Fabia R5 for the Toksport Team at the final three rallies.

"It's been a bloody hard road to get here but this is everything to us," said a tearful Ingram at the finish.

"Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us - I've not done this alone."

The rally was won by local driver Frigyes Turan, who took advantage of the chaos on the final stage to take victory over Lukyanuk by 33 seconds.

'All of the talent, but no money'

Matt Warwick, BBC Sport in Hungary

Ingram has all of the talent to be a rallying great, but none of the money.

Motorsport has never been fair to the underprivileged - Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher brought plenty of money with them to their early careers.

But Ingram's DIY spirit saw him triumph on a few thousand pounds - and a lot of good will from those who believed in him - against competitors who have millions invested in them.

He missed out on winning the critical 100,000 euros prize fund for being the quickest driver under 27 earlier in the season, so to be overall title winner will be sweet.

However, in a cruel twist of fate, he receives no prize money for claiming overall honours.

So after a year in which he has had to beg, steal and borrow, Ingram is left staring into the motorsport abyss once again.

Devine shines in soaking conditions

Callum Devine
Callum Devine and co-driver Brian Hoy starred on their European debut in Hungary

Motorsport Ireland-backed Devine showed blistering speed throughout his debut event, posting top-three times on five stages as he recovered from a puncture on Saturday.

The 25-year-old had fallen as far as 11th position after his flat tyre, which had become a feature on the muddy, rugged Hungarian tarmac but recovered in fine style to drag his Hyundai into the top four.

Devine briefly slipped back to fifth after a spin, but he then set the fastest time by over a minute on the final stage to jump into third spot for a podium on his ERC debut.

"The end of the toughest rally of my life, we tightened the belts and had a go on the last stage, took a fastest time and somehow ended up third overall," said Devine, who won the Billy Coleman Award in 2017.

"The final stage was crazy, the hardest stage I ever had to drive with the fog and the rain. We had to keep turning the lights on and off.

"Thank you to everyone for all the support over the last week, delighted myself and Brian got a result to reward all the hard work everyone put in."

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