Less than a week after being crowned 2010 Ginetta Junior Champion, Tom Ingram was making the leap into the senior Ginetta Challenge series at Donington Park, after receiving a special offer from the sportscar marque.
So impressed were they with his performance in the Junior series, Ginetta decided to offer him the chance to race in the finale of the Challenge series, in a more powerful version of the G40 model he raced to the Junior title. Ingram admitted it was an offer he couldn't turn down:
“I was really, really excited about it!” he said. “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.”
While looking identical to the Junior car Ingram had piloted all season, the G40 he raced at Donington housed a 1.8 litre engine pushing 150bhp, causing his average speed to be almost 10mph a lap faster than he had set in his G40 Junior earlier in the season.
Ingram adapted to the increase power almost instantly though and set about setting some impressive lap times. After topping the times in opening practice, Ingram qualified a superb second on the grid. When it came to race day, Ingram found that race starts were much trickier in his new machine:
“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.
Despite the problems with the starts, Ingram was able to give some exciting performances, picking up two second place finishes, in the process beating many more experienced racers.
“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.
Reflecting on the opportunity, Ingram added: “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.”