Tom Ingram secured a dominant win in a chaotic Round 14 of the 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship to cap off a sensational weekend for the Hillspeed driver. Two wins, two pole positions and two fastest laps at Silverstone has seen him leap to the top of the championship standings, putting him in pole position for the title.
Ingram was joined by title rival Louise Richardson on the front row, with fellow title rival Jake Hill fourth, behind Jody Fannin. Team Parker Racing's Chris Swanwick and Tockwith's Maverick Domene made up row three, with privateer Max Coates performing well to qualify seventh.
Starting on the inside, it was Richardson who got the best start, leading the pack into Copse. Her lead was short lived though, a mistake forcing her to run wide at Becketts, dropping her right back to fifteenth in the process. Ingram benefited from this to take the lead as they headed down the Wellington Straight for the first time, ahead of Hill, Domene and Swanwick.
Hill was desperate for a win to maintain his record of winning every Sunday race on the season, and went on the offensive on lap two to try and pass Ingram. He gained a run down the Wellington Straight and tried to move around the outside at Brooklands, but went too wide, allowing Swanwick to dive past for second. Behind, contact between Seb Morris and Hill's Tollbar team-mate Tom Howard sent them both spinning, recovering to the back of the pack.
As they entered lap three, Hill again went on the offensive, this time looking to regain second around the outside at Copse, but slight contact between the two slowed Hill up, allowing the chasing pack to move past and drop him to sixth. In that pack, Fannin slid past Domene at Becketts to take third. As they headed into Brooklands, Domene looked to around the outside to regain the place. On the inside though, Hill made a late lunge to try and pass Fannin, but succeeded in collecting Domene, spinning the two off track. Domene recovered to the back of the field, but the contact led to Hill limping to the pits for an early retirement, a DNF the driver did not want while chasing the title.
At the front, the fighting behind was allowing Ingram to streak away, leading by over 3 seconds on lap four, ahead of Swanwick and Fannin, with the Hill/Domene incident promoting Alex Austin to fourth and Sarah Moore to fifth. Behind, the recovering Richardson was quickly moving back up the order, up to seventh by the end of lap four.
The race was providing exciting racing throughout the field, with cars tangling on every lap. Lap four saw contact between Coates and Finlay Ractliffe at Brooklands while battling for tenth.
In the lead, Ingram was pulling away, with the fight for second still raging. Swanwick held it, but Fannin was looking to make a move, drawing along the outside as they entered Copse for the sixth time. Swanwick wasn't looking to give up his place easily though, pushing Fannin wide. This slowed Fannin down, allowing Austin to move past for third as they headed into Beckett. Behind, the impressive Richardson was hot on their heels in fifth, after dispatching William Foster at Copse before sliding past reigning champion Sarah Moore at Brooklands.
The battle ahead continued as they headed down the main straight, with Austin getting a run on Swanwick and moving alongside. Swanwick again drove hard to maintain his place, pushing Austin on to the grass, the loss of momentum for Austin dropping him to sixth. Swanwick held on to second, but was quickly attacked by Fannin, who went to move around the outside at Becketts, but contact between the pair pitched Fannin off, dropping him down to eleventh. Behind, as she attempted to avoid colliding with Fannin, Sarah Moore lost control of her car, spinning herself down to 14th after looking set for one of her best results of a tough season.
As they emerged from the corner and headed down the Wellington Straight, Swanwick, Austin and Richardson ran three abreast for second as they entered Brooklands. They emerged with Swanwick still second and Richardson now third, biut Richardson quickly looked to take the position. She drew alongside as they went down the main straight, but in an almost identical move as they lap before, Swanwick cut across to defend, pushing her onto the grass at the fastest part of the circuit. Despite a loss of momentum, she was able to hold on to third though as they moved onto lap eight.
She quickly went back on the offensive, with a poor exit out of Copse for Swanwick allowing her to move past on the approach to Becketts. Despite an attack by Austin at Becketts, Swanwick held on to third, but was to lose the place at the next corner to Bonham. Ahead of them though, after all her hard work moving through the pack, Richardson ran wide at Brooklands, dropping her to sixth and forcing her to work her way through again.
With three laps remaining, Ingram was clear in the distance at the front, holding a lead of over 14 seconds, with Team Parker Racing's Bonham now second and Swanwick third, closely followed by Austin and Foster. The battle for third was to reach its climax at the exit of Copse. Austin gained a run around the outside of Swanwick, but contact between the two pitched Austin across the track, collecting the unfortunate Foster heavily in the process.
They continued to fight for the remainder of the lap before being collected by the safety car, with Richardson passing Swanwick and the impressive Ryan Ractliffe, who had managed to avoid all the carnage to move up the field, for third at Luffield.
With Ingram so far clear, the safety car missed him, collecting second place Bonham, ahead of Richardson and Ractliffe. With the amount of debris on circuit after the Austin crash and only one lap left to run, the Clerk of the Course quickly decided to red flag the race, with final results taken from the end of lap nine.
This gave Ingram the win, by over 15 seconds, ahead of Bonham and Richardson, a great podium for the title contender after having to stage two separate recovery drives. After all the mayhem, it was Ryan Ratcliffe who finished a great fourth, ahead of an equally brilliant result for Finlay Ratcliffe in fifth. Swanwick finished sixth on the road after a busy race, but was later excluded for dangerous driving over the course of the race. This promoted Fannin to sixth, with Coates, Howard, Domene and Brad Bailey completing the top ten.
After two action packed races, the Junior driver are next out at Knockhill on 4th/5th September for Rounds 15 and 16. After a great weekend, Ingram leads the way, 17 points ahead of Richardson. Hill drops to third after his race three DNF, 45 points off the pace.
Provisional 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship Positions (after Rd14):
1st Tom Ingram, 368pts; 2nd Louise Richardson, 351pts; 3rd Jake Hill, 323pts; 4th Jody Fannin, 265pts; 5th Tom Howard, 243pts; 6th David Moore, 225pts