INGRAM CROWNED 2010 GINETTA JUNIOR CHAMPION! Derbyshire Ginetta Junior Championship team Hillspeed is celebrating after Tom Ingram secured the 2010 championship title at Brands Hatch in Kent over the weekend, 9th/10th October, in the squad's...
INGRAM CROWNED 2010 GINETTA JUNIOR CHAMPION!
Derbyshire Ginetta Junior Championship team Hillspeed is celebrating after Tom Ingram secured the 2010 championship title at Brands Hatch in Kent over the weekend, 9th/10th October, in the squad's first ever season in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship-supporting category.
Capping off a truly outstanding year for Richard Ollerenshaw's team ahead of the 40th anniversary of its inauguration this coming Friday (15th October), Ingram's title success also earned the 17-year-old High Wycombe driver a coveted prize test drive in a BTCC car.
Winning the championship in style with a deserved second place finish during round 19 on Saturday afternoon, Ingram went on to claim another podium with yet another runner-up spot in round 20 to bring his season's tally of rostrum visits to 13 -- comprising five race victories, five second places and three third positions. In the title standings, he ends the year a huge 65 points clear.
Ingram commented: "It's been such a consistent year for us, I think at the end of the day we've shown we've been the best combination and a lot of credit must go to Hillspeed for the fantastic car they've given me. It's been a real team effort and I'm proud of the way we've won the title with such a consistent campaign, lots of wins and podiums and finishing every race too -- it's been incredible."
Team-mate Seb Morris concluded his debut season of car racing 12th in the championship standings, just 10 points away from the coveted top 10, after a couple of strong finishes. Taking a fine top six in the first encounter on Saturday, the 14-year-old from Marford had to settle for 11th in race two after an unfortunate moment cost him another potential sixth place result.
Heading into the final event of the season knowing two consistently safe finishes would guarantee him the title, Ingram didn't rest on his laurels and in qualifying he posted the third fastest time for each race with Morris qualifying seventh for each encounter.
At the start of round 19 Ingram got away well and kept a watching brief as title rival Jake Hill battled with Louise Richardson ahead. Morris moved into the top six but ran wide at Clearways on lap two and slipped to eighth. On lap five though he regained seventh when Maverick Domene ran wide through the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend and grabbed one more place before the finish.
Ingram continued to drive sensibly knowing third place was enough for him to clinch the title with a race to spare but after a late race Safety Car period, required after a two car tangle at Paddock, the championship was decided when an over-ambitious passing attempt by Hill on Richardson led to the former crashing out at the first corner. Instantaneously, Ingram became 2010 champion.
Safe in the knowledge the title was secure, Ingram lined-up for Sunday's final round aiming to have a fun outing with the pressure completely off his shoulders. Holding third place off the start, the race fell under Safety Car conditions between laps four and nine but just one lap after the re-start things changed at the front when Richardson spun out of second place exiting Druids Hairpin.
Assuming second, Ingram set about pressuring new race leader Hill but the Safety Car reappeared on lap 11 due to another stranded car. When racing resumed on lap 13, Ingram darted around behind Hill and did look the quicker of the two but before he had sufficient chance to attack the race was red flagged on the final lap due to a second spin for Richardson -- this time into retirement.
Morris held seventh position early on and looked well on course to replicate his round 19 result at least but after the first Safety Car period he had a moment which dropped him to 13th spot. His lap times were impressive though and his fastest tour of the race was on a par with podium pace. In the end, he recovered into 11th place.
Reflecting on a superb title-winning weekend, in which Hillspeed also secured the Vice-Champion's spot in the entrants standings, team principal Richard Ollerenshaw said: "It's been absolutely outstanding, Tom thoroughly deserves the title -- he's been the strongest, most consistent driver all season and has conducted himself fantastically well.
"The year has been exceptional and it's great for Hillspeed to have won the driver's title in our first season. We'd have liked to win the team's crown too of course but the runner-up spot is still a good achievement. Without the Safety Car periods in race two, I'm sure Tom would have been able to get past (Jake) Hill and end the year with a win."
Ollerenshaw added: "We're a bit disappointed for Seb that he couldn't have had a stronger weekend to finish on, especially after such an incredible run at Donington last time out, and we know we have to work hard to prepare strongly for next year. Ending his first year in cars 12th in the championship though is good going -- there's much more to come from him next year."
With the Ginetta Junior Championship campaign now completed, Hillspeed's focus turns once more to its Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship operation which will be in action this Sunday, 17th October, for the season finale at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire.
Final 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship driver standings: Champion: Tom Ingram, 526pts; 12th Seb Morris, 185pts
Final 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship team standings: 2nd Hillspeed, 751pts