Tom Ingram moved closer to taking the 2010 Ginetta Junior title after a strong weekend at Donington which included his 11th podium of the season.
Heading in to the race Silverstone and Knockhill saw him complete an impressive run as he secured pole position, fastest lap and victory across the last four races.
“There's always the pressure of needing to do well, but at the same time I knew I didn't necessarily have to win,” admitted Ingram. “I was just aiming to score some good, solid points and come away with a decent championship lead still. Of course I wanted to keep my winning run going, but I knew that would be hard, especially as I don't like Donington and have never gelled with the track – I've never really seemed able to hook it up round there.”
Talking of various set up problems during Saturday he admitted he didn’t think he would have a problem. “I wasn't too worried in Saturday practice, because we were still only half a second off the fastest time even despite all of that. I knew as soon as we got the car sorted, we would be bang on the pace again. The track was really greasy in qualifying – conditions I absolutely love – and my mechanic Neil just said 'go out there and do it', so I did! We were lightning-quick, half a second up on anybody else. I've got good car control, and that seemed to give me the edge over all the others in those conditions. I don't get scared if I have an understeer moment or if the back end gets away from me – I just drive through it.”
Another dominating qualifying session ended with a double pole position for the High Wycombe based racer while championship rivals Hill and Richardson languished further back the order.
He admitted the first race could have gone better despite a great start. “I got off to a really good start and built up a good lead,” He said. “Then, coming down the Craner Curves for the first time I saw the safety car boards come out, which bunched everyone up again! That was annoying, but it's racing. I got a really good jump at the re-start, too, but Jake in second was able to stay with me. He came up the inside heading towards Macleans, and I didn't fight him too hard, because I didn't want to risk ending up with a DNF and no points.
“I then just latched onto his rear bumper and started following him round, until coming out of Coppice on lap five I suddenly lost all drive from the engine. The car almost came to a complete stop and I thought 'this is it' – I could see my championship lead disappearing before my eyes – and although it seemed to mysteriously cure itself and get going again, by then I had dropped down to ninth.
“After that, I just had to try to battle my way back from there and regain as many places as I could. It was nice to have the pace to be able to pick my way through the way I did, and I had a bit of fun passing people as I came back to fourth in the end. The frustrating thing was, with just another half-a-lap, I could definitely have re-taken second…”
Race two wouldn’t prove easy either after another impressive start Jake Hill would close down the gap quickly.
“I got another strong start and built up a bit of a gap early on, but I could see Jake was coming through and it was obvious he was pretty quick, I tried to put some good laps in, but once he got into second I just couldn't shake him off. He got past for the lead, but I then stayed with him and as I was pushing him along I started to think I was actually faster than him.
“My team-mate Seb was catching us up in third, so I just kept trying to put Jake under pressure, but then Seb made a move up the inside of me into Redgate, which dropped me down to fourth. I managed to work my way back into second again, and then the safety car came out which closed the whole pack up.
“We had only two laps left after the re-start, and I stayed right with Jake as we dropped the others pretty quickly – but I didn't have the last little bit of pace I needed to make a move. He was missing some apexes and running wide through a few corners, but nothing to give me a good enough run to try to get past. Obviously I would have liked to have won, but I was still really pleased with second in the end, because it was more decent, solid points towards the championship.”
Despite not adding to his victory tally this weekend he heads in to the final two races in a commanding position.“I'm feeling really confident heading to Brands,
“We're just going to approach it the same way we did Donington. It's Jake's home track, but around the GP circuit there earlier this year I was only about two hundredths of a second off him in the wet, so I'm really looking forward to the challenge. Again, I don't need to win; I just need to stay consistent and rack up a couple of decent finishes, and hopefully that will be enough for us to come away with a big trophy at the end of it.”
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography