Ingram, who clinched the title thanks to a double win and a fifth place in a tense finale at Brands Hatch on Sunday, became a fan of Aiello when he was a small child.
The Frenchman is viewed in some quarters as the greatest touring car driver of all time, thanks to his unique record of winning four different major national titles with three different manufacturers: the 1994 French Supertourisme and 1997 German Supertourenwagen crowns with Peugeot; the 1999 BTCC with Nissan; and the 2002 DTM with Audi.
“I’ve wanted to win this championship since I was five years old – it’s all I’ve ever dreamt about doing,” said Ingram.
“I remember watching the 1999 season review every single day before I used to go to school.
“Kids would be playing PlayStation or playing football, and I’d be watching the Croft round of the British Touring Car Championship.
“I was sitting on the podium earlier on – just sat there, looking at their names on the trophy, and just as I looked round it, all of a sudden the 1999 year popped up: Laurent Aiello, and that was the name I used to watch – I idolised him as an ‘I’d love to be able to do that, it’s so cool’ thing.
“So to be able to do it, to be able to get it, to have my name on that is going to be amazing.”
Ingram paid tribute to the Excelr8 Motorsport team, for which he has driven since the start of 2021.
Laurent Aiello, Nissan Primera
Photo by: Motorsport Images
That year, Ingram and engineer Spencer Aldridge jumped across from the Speedworks Motorsport Toyota squad to join up with Excelr8 and its unproven Hyundai i30 N.
“It’s a shame that it’s only my name on it, because every single person here deserves their name on it as well, because the work that’s gone in this year has been incomprehensible,” Ingram added.
“Spencer has been such a rock across the whole thing as well, he has been beyond incredible and I feel immensely lucky to have been able to share this moment with all these people.
“We’ve done it properly – I’ve not done it through firing people off, I’ve not done it by cheating, we’ve just done it by bloody hard graft and honesty and professionalism, and I can hold my head immensely high that we’ve done a bloody good job and we’ve done it with the most perfect values I could hope for.”
Ingram was deeply touched by outgoing champion Ash Sutton’s gesture of unpeeling the champion’s #1 off his car and sticking it on the window of Ingram’s Hyundai, and agreed that it indicated the respect between the four title contenders, including Jake Hill and Colin Turkington.
“What a beautiful gesture by Ash – it was really really nice of him,” he said.
“I think we’ve all had a good amount of respect for each other over this year.
Tom Ingram, Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com Hyundai i30N
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
“We’re all sportsmen, we all want to win more than we can breathe.
“But the lovely thing is that last race Jake and I spent half a lap wheel to wheel.
“Now, if I wanted to I could have fired him, I could have tipped him off on the grass – I had every opportunity if I wanted to get rid of him, and I didn’t. Likewise, he could have done the same thing to me.”