Ingram promises 'no holding back' as Ginetta Junior title tilt hits full throttle Tom Ingram has vowed that there will be 'no holding back' and that he will throw everything he has at the conquest of the Ginetta Junior Championship laurels over...
Ingram promises 'no holding back' as Ginetta Junior title tilt hits full throttle
Tom Ingram has vowed that there will be 'no holding back' and that he will throw everything he has at the conquest of the Ginetta Junior Championship laurels over the second half of the 2010 campaign - as he bids to convert a hugely impressive opening five rounds into the greatest prize of all in only his second season out of karts.
Having learnt his trade in the ITV-televised, British Touring Car Championship (BTCC)-supporting closed-top sportscar series last year, this year Tom has been on the leading pace from the word 'go' - and a breakthrough victory, four further podiums, two new lap records and only one finish lower than fifth place from the first ten races is testament to just how much progress has been made.
"I'm really, really pleased with how it's all gone so far," acknowledged the highly-rated young High Wycombe hotshot. "Given the amount of testing we have been able to do, if you had said to me back at the start of the year that I would be sitting second, with five podiums and as a title contender, I wouldn't really have believed you.
"Obviously I would have liked to have been leading going into the mid- season break, but it matters who's leading at the end, not now, and I think we are in a good position. We showed in the last round at Croft that we can push Jake Hill - that's in his head now, and hopefully will be giving him something to think about.
"That was a massive confidence boost personally, because I already knew I had the pace to keep with him in qualifying and practice sessions, but we had never really had the opportunity to be near each other in a race situation before - he had always been a couple of places ahead of me or vice-versa. It was good to see that I can stick with him, and if it hadn't been for the small mistake I made in race two I think I could have pushed him all the way to the last corner and maybe even won."
Hill has been Tom's arch-rival since the season began, and the pair are separated by just nine points in the title standings midway through - but the fact that the Hillspeed ace is within touching distance at all is quite an achievement in itself, given that he has had not a single test day since the curtain-raising outing at Thruxton back in April, what he concedes has been 'a major hindrance' and meaning all of his set-up and preparation work has had to be undertaken on race weekends.
"We all went into Thruxton not really knowing what was going on, and I was the quickest by quite a margin," the 16-year-old recounted, "but with no testing at all since then, our car has stayed pretty much the same. We haven't been able to make any real changes, and the changes my team-mate makes don't necessarily work for me - so it's been a constant case of trying to find everything out on a race weekend. We haven't lost pace since Thruxton - it's just that everybody else is catching up. If we had tested from the start like the others, I think we would probably have been able to keep our advantage.
"The team has been brilliant, though; everybody has worked so hard to make the car the best it can be with the limited amount of practice time we've had, and that has generally allowed me to get it dialled-in pretty quickly on race weekends. It's been great to be with such a fantastic bunch of people who can put a car underneath me that's not a million miles from the pace right from the first lap - but any testing we can do will obviously be a huge help."
In his interim period out of the cockpit, Tom has been keeping himself fit and race-sharp by participating in the Henry Surtees Headway Challenge, a two-and-a-half hour karting endurance held at Buckmore Park in Kent - previously the ex-British Karting Champion's 'local' track, and an event in which he pitted his talents against the likes of three-time grand prix- winner Johnny Herbert, rising British motorcycling hope Bradley Smith, professional boxer Barry McGuigan and members from leading teams Carlin and Manor and the Racing Steps Foundation.
Despite having to contend with a kart that one of his team-mates described as 'undriveable' as engine woes right from the start rendered it sluggish in the extreme exiting corners, the Bucks speed demon fought grittily and played a major role in helping to haul his team up from 22nd at one stage to a far more respectable eighth at the chequered flag. Very quick when all was working right but luckless in equal measure, given that six laps were lost in the pits due to the troubles, and that the same distance separated the quartet from the rostrum at the chequered flag, the maths is not hard to understand.
"There were 35 teams and almost 180 drivers there - it was more a case of who wasn't there than who was!" he quipped. "You see these people on TV and just can't believe you're actually there racing against them! The whole event ended up raising more than £60,000, which was fantastic."
Returning his focus now to the task in-hand, due to his lack of budget to test, Tom knows he could be up against it at Snetterton in Norfolk in early August and Knockhill in Scotland a month later, both circuits of which he has no prior racing experience. Backing from Conway House Dental Practice and new sponsor NP Aerospace will see to it that the former Wycombe and Marlow Sports Personality of the Year makes it to Snetterton, but funding is still urgently required for the last four meetings - with any contribution, however great or small, very appreciatively received.
In return, having had to drive within himself up to now for fear of doing any damage to his car and not having the finances to repair it, Tom has promised to open up full throttle and unleash his maximum potential as he bids to successfully turn the tables on Hill and clinch the coveted crown.
"I'm looking forward to all of the circuits ahead," he concluded. "A couple of them I've never raced at before, but I showed at Rockingham by setting a new lap record that I can pick up a new track quite well and get going with it pretty quickly - so I'm sure it won't take me too long to get into Snetterton and Knockhill either.
"I'm feeling confident, and I'm going into the second half of the season with a completely different mindset. Before I've always been very mindful that we couldn't afford to get any damage on the car, but I don't want to get to the end of the season and look back and say I wish I'd pushed harder. I really want to go for it now - no holding back!"