CHRIS Ingram has said he hopes a victory during the first round of the FIA European Rally Championship will be the start of a sequence.

The Chelford-based ace was more than 14 minutes clear of his closest rival in the Junior Under 27s category following 16 challenging stages at the Rally Azores in Portugal.

“Hopefully it’s the first of many wins,” he said.

“It was a fantastic battle with my teammate Jari [Huttunen], but I believe we deserved to win.

“Up until a small technical problem at the 13th stage, the car ran faultlessly and we were in the lead from the first proper stage.”

Ingram, 22, was joined in a factory Opel ADAM R2 by co-driver Elliott Edmondson.

The duo were less than five seconds clear of Huttunen at the end of the first leg, a battle that continued in difficult conditions on the rally’s closing day.

Their advantage was seven seconds after a dozen stages, only for the gap to close when a fuel pressure issue caused their machine to cut out.

A new fuel pump and tank set them on their way before they discovered Huttunen had broken a driveshaft on his car before reaching the finish-line.

Ingram added: “The team were incredible as always, making sure we could drive flat out all weekend.”

The campaign resumes at Gran Canaria next month.

The young Briton heads to Spain at the top of the table with maximum points, followed by Peugeot driver Aleks Zawada.

Opel lead the overall teams’ standings.