Newly-crowned champion Ingram shines on graduation as Ginetta turns things up a notch He was only crowned the 2010 Ginetta Junior Champion barely a week ago, but already Tom Ingram is busy making waves again after he was invited by the iconic ...
Newly-crowned champion Ingram shines on graduation as Ginetta turns things up a notch
He was only crowned the 2010 Ginetta Junior Champion barely a week ago, but already Tom Ingram is busy making waves again after he was invited by the iconic sportscar marque to campaign their G40 in the Ginetta Challenge finale at Donington Park - and he promptly proved himself to be right on the leading pace once more.
Tom's triumph in clinching the Ginetta Junior laurels at Brands Hatch earlier this month was one of talent overcoming funding - or rather, a distinct lack thereof in comparison with the majority of his rivals. So impressed were Ginetta with the young High Wycombe star's performance, indeed, that they wasted little time in making him an offer he admitted he couldn't refuse.
"I was really, really excited about it!" the 17-year-old enthused. "Being able to drive a car like that is not the kind of opportunity you get every weekend, and it's a huge honour to be asked to drive for Ginetta.
"It was very different from what I've been driving all season, with a sequential gearbox, slick tyres and a bit more power, which meant I was going into corners a lot hotter than before. It was a huge difference, but I felt like I got into my stride pretty quickly and was able to set some competitive lap times straight out-of-the-box, and by the end of the first practice session everything was flowing pretty well. After that, it was just a case of building up my confidence in it."
With a 1.8-litre engine pumping out no less than 150bhp, Tom's average speed was about 10mph-a-lap faster than he had set the previous month in his Ginetta Junior outing at Donington, and he acknowledged that the difference in cornering speed was the main thing to have to adjust to, with some real edge-of-the-seat curves around the popular Leicestershire circuit to put the car through its paces.
Fastest of anyone in opening practice, the Conway House, Teng Tools, NP Aerospace and Mr. Signs-backed hotshot went on to qualify a superb second in the 27-strong field, particularly remarkable given that the car he was behind the wheel of was the heavier Britcar-spec model. The race starts, however, were a slightly trickier matter...
"I didn't get a good start in any of the three races, again because it was all so different to what I'm used to, with a different clutch, too," he reflected. "In the first race, I just sat on the grid spinning my wheels, so I tried to use less revs in race two but then it just bogged down, and it did exactly the same in race three.
"In race one, I slotted into second early on and then pretty much stayed there throughout - with the leader too far ahead to catch but nobody close enough behind to threaten me - but in race two I had to fight my way back a bit to regain the places I had lost at the start. They mixed the grid up a bit for race three, and after starting seventh I fell down to 12th to begin with; I battled my way back through to fourth before they stopped it due to oil on the track, and after the re-start I moved my way into second again.
"I really enjoyed the whole weekend, overall, and it was definitely well worth doing. To be given the opportunity by Ginetta to drive one of their cars and give feedback on it to help to develop it, iron out any little niggles and establish a decent set-up is a genuine privilege, and I really want to thank them for that."
Whilst he may now be facing a break from on-track action, the highly-rated Bucks speed demon will still be putting his skills to the test at the inaugural Wycombe Business Expo (www.wycombebusinessexpo.com) later this month, at which he will be able to be found on the 'Racing Challenge' stand encouraging visitors to try to beat his lap time.
The pioneering B2B event will host more than 50 exhibitors as well as guest speakers and workshops, and offers local businesses the perfect opportunity to network and showcase their products, skills and services to one another. It takes place on Thursday, 28th October at the newly-built, £31 million Cressex Community School, so if you're up for the challenge and fancy your chances of giving Tom a run for his money, then make sure to pop along - though he insists he will not be beaten without a fight.
"I'm really looking forward to the Expo," the former British Karting Champion enthused. "It should be good fun to have a bit of a play on the simulator, and hopefully it will help to build up a bit more awareness in the area of me and what I do, too. It may well bring out the competitive side of people when they have a go and try to beat me, but I'm one of the most competitive people you'll ever meet - so I'll be determined to win!"