Tom Ingram enjoyed another strong weekend in the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup, with two G50 class podiums at Donington Park, including the class win in Round four, helping him extend his advantage at the top of the championship standings.
The Wycombe-based driver put together a late deal to run with Plans Motorsport at the season's opening rounds at Brands Hatch, repaying them with a pole position, race win and another podium. He headed to Donington with an eleven point championship lead and showed his pace once again with a second consecutive pole position in qualifying.
Ingram said: “I was feeling upbeat after Brands Hatch and I just wanted to take the pace we'd had there on to Donington. I'm still learning the car obviously, but I think we've taken a massive step forward now in terms of how I'm driving it.
“We were only four tenths of a second off the pace during practice on really old tyres, and I knew that as soon as we bolted some new boots on, we would be fine. We did that on Saturday morning, and straightaway they transformed the car; I had a lot of confidence in it, and we were immediately right on the leading pace – and although it was close in qualifying, I knew there was a lot more still to come.”
Race one saw Ingram dominate the G50 class from lights to flag, setting lightning pace throughout and becoming the only runner in class to lap below 1m12s. He ran within the more powerful G55 models throughout the race also, finishing a superb sixth overall.
The BRDC Rising Star commented: “I knew from qualifying that I could put in consistent times under 1m12s – it wasn't like I could only go out there and set a single fluke lap. It was fantastic to win – really, really good. Following the nightmare we'd had trying to raise sufficient finances to get to Donington, to win the first race so comfortably was very special. It showed that we didn't need the pre-race testing to be quick; we could just turn up and be right on the pace.”
Race two saw him take the class lead early on once again, but the reigning Ginetta Junior champion was forced to go wide out of the final corner in avoidance of a slow G55 ahead, losing him four places in class. He worked his way back into the lead again over the next few laps, until the race defining moment on lap thirteen saw him involved in a multi-car incident, ending the race in the McLeans gravel.
Commenting on the race defining incident, he said: “When I got into second place, Andy Richardson was about a second ahead of me, but within just a lap I was right with him and putting the pressure on. I passed him down the inside going through the Craner Curves, but on the exit of the corner I had a little twitch which slowed me down a tiny bit.
“That allowed Andy to get the cutback on me and stick his nose slightly alongside again, and then approaching McLeans he got a knock from behind, which spun him across the track and his car just collected the back corner of mine, sending me spinning off into the gravel, too. To come from towards the back of the pack, fight my way into the lead and then finish up in the gravel trap was pretty disheartening; we worked so hard for it, and then it all just got crushed by someone else's error.”
The incident caused fairly extensive damage to his exhaust, rear bumper and splitter, but the team were able to fix it and get him out for the final race, which Ingram was hugely grateful of: “Fortunately, Ginetta build strong cars and the Plans Motorsport guys did a brilliant job to repair it, with everybody working so hard to get it all fixed in time for me to get out again for race three. There were enough stones inside it to pebble someone's drive.!”
With the accident ruining his tyres, the 17 year old was forced to race on older tyres for the third race. A slow start saw him on the edge of the top six in class, but he put his head down over the second half of the race and picked off his rivals to move into second in class, however a G55 inbetween him and the leader stopped him from mounting a challenge. The race also saw him pick up his hat trick of fastest laps for the weekend.
Ingram now heads to the next rounds at Thruxton with a 25 point championship lead and is looking forward to thr weekend: “Assuming we find the funding to compete there, I think we can have another decent weekend at Thruxton and this time, I really want to come away with three wins! That would just be spot-on. After Brands Hatch and Donington I'm feeling really confident, and I'm happy with the car and happy with the team. It's all starting to gel now.”