Chris Ingram is keeping his fingers crossed that he will be able to defend his FIA European Rally Championship title this year.

Co-driven by Ross Whittock, the 25-year old Mancunian became the first British driver since Vic Elford in 1967 to take the coveted ERC crown.

The destiny of last year’s title came down to a final stage decider on Rally Hungary, when Ingram, driving a Toksport WRT-run ŠKODA Fabia R5, finished ahead of his arch Russian rival Alexey Lukyanuk.

While Ingram undoubtedly deserves to be competing in the WRC, defending his ERC title was his most likely option in 2020. That was before the coronavirus pandemic threw a spanner in to the works.

However, it’s hoped that a rescheduled seven round ERC will run in the second half of this year, beginning with the Rally di Roma Capitale on 24-26 July.

“One hundred per cent we want to be back, we want to defend the title,” admitted Ingram.

“We need to see what happens over the next few months. Obviously, the [coronavirus] situation is the priority for everyone now. But we definitely want to be back in the ERC and go and win some rallies because we feel there is a lot of unfinished business.

“A lot of people said because I didn’t win a rally, ‘am I quick enough, am I as quick as Lukyanuk?’

“I totally disagree.

“I did what I had to do and did the best. I couldn’t risk anything.

“But I really want to go back and show them that I have got the pace as well.”

However, Ingram needs to secure the necessary funding to continue his ERC campaign with Toksport WRT.

“We’re still looking for sponsorship and obviously the virus is affecting things a lot,” added Ingram.

“Just as [the pandemic began] we were negotiating all the deals with my current sponsors. Like I said, it’s not the priority at the moment.

“But hopefully what we’ve achieved last year, with all the amazing coverage we’ve had and all the coverage thanks to the ERC as well, I am sure we will find a way so fingers crossed.”

Chris Ingram and Ross Whittock wear Stilo WRC DES 8860 helmets and use OMP race seats.

Chris Ingram, FIA European Rally Championship, Manchester, Skoda Fabia R5, ERC, Eurosport