Champion Ingram fired-up to shine in 'dream' touring car test
It has been a good year for Tom Ingram, one way or another. Aside from notching up no fewer than five race victories, six pole positions, 13 podium finishes and eight fastest laps en route to 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship glory, the highly-rated young High Wycombe star now has something pretty special indeed to look forward to for his triumphant efforts - a title-winning test in a British Touring Car.
In lifting the laurels at Brands Hatch earlier this month, defeating arch- rival Jake Hill at the end of a season-long duel, Tom impressively claimed his maiden car racing crown in only his second year out-of-karts - but then, for a driver who had previously also clinched the same British Karting Championship as no less than Lewis Hamilton once won, such success should perhaps come as no surprise.
Now, as a reward for that success, the Hillspeed ace is set to take to the track around Silverstone's National Circuit in Pirtek Racing's British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) Vauxhall Vectra, a car that was raced to victory by Andrew Jordan at Croft back in June and then again in the Brands Hatch finale, the day after Tom had sealed the Ginetta Junior spoils. The Conway House, Teng Tools, NP Aerospace and Mr. Signs-backed hotshot is palpably champing at the bit to get behind the wheel.
"I can't wait!" he enthused. "It will be the most powerful car I've ever driven, and it should be a lot of fun! It's just a massive opportunity, absolutely fantastic, and I have to thank both Pirtek and Ginetta for it. I think I will be one of the youngest drivers ever to test a touring car at only 17 - and that will be great publicity, too, in helping to get my name out there more.
"The fact that Pirtek are prepared to let me out in their car demonstrates a level of trust and confidence in me, which is always nice to see. It really is a dream come true - it's going to be absolutely unbelievable!"
Jordan himself knows how it feels to be in Tom's shoes, having made his BTCC debut aged just 18 three years ago, and having since established himself as a front-runner in what is arguably the toughest tin-top series the world over. The former multiple British Rallycross Champion admits that he is eager to see how his young protege adapts.
"It's quite a prize for Tom, and he deserves it because he's done a really good job," he affirmed. "I've kept an eye on the Ginetta Junior Championship this year, and Tom has pushed when he has had to push and scored points when he has needed to score points. It's all about being a complete driver at the end of the day, and I was pleased to see him win the championship.
"To get a test in a touring car at his age is something pretty special, and he seems really enthusiastic about it. I'm sure he will be willing to learn, and that way we can teach him quite a bit. The Vectra has a sequential gearbox, and the brakes are massively better than what Tom will have been used to. That will take quite a lot of acclimatisation, so we want to make sure we give him enough time to familiarise himself with everything.
"When I started racing touring cars, I did find it hard at first - the biggest thing was that the BTCC is just so competitive! You can do a lap time that you think is mega, and it turns out it was only good enough for 13th-quickest or something! You always have to dig deep, and you are always learning - but that's far better than going into something where you're just winning all the time.
"I'm keen to see how Tom gets on. He seems like a really nice lad, and I'm looking forward to spending the time with him. At the end of the day, the Vectra is still a car, and he is clearly a good pedaller so he should be fine."