Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup star Tom Ingram enjoyed a tremendous 2011 season, taking the G50 class title after a dominant campaign with Plans Motorsport. The Checkered Flag chatted to Tom at the series' final rounds at Silverstone to get his thoughts on his great season.
Ingram headed into 2011 as the reigning 2010 Ginetta Junior Champion and looked to continue his success in the bigger, more powerful G50's. The 18 year old did just that, ten wins and a total of eighteen podiums in twenty five races seeing him wrap up the title a meeting early at Brands Hatch.
Ingram said: “I think its sunk in now. It's been long enough for us to realise what we've done. It's great to get it done a weekend early and take that stress away. It's fantastic to get it wrapped up.”
Ingram's success was helped hugely by a great start to the season. The High Wycombe-based driver took six wins and three other podiums in the first eleven races to build a hefty points advantage. Ingram admits that he's unsure why he was able to be so quick out the blocks though.
Ingram reflected: “I'm not entirely sure why. We had a great car underneath us to start off with and then we started to get used to the car and the tracks in it. I usually adapt to things pretty well and I think I was able to just get in and go quick straight away.”
Ingram's title charge had a blip mid-season though, disastrous meetings at Croft and Snetterton either side of the summer break losing him his big championship advantage. Croft saw him win the opening race before hefty accidents in both the next two races, before Snetterton saw him suffer a variety of mechanical gremlins, leaving him down the field in both races.
Ingram didn't lose hope through and remained positive, as he explains: “Obviously when we dropped 95 points in five races, it was getting a bit twitchy, but the moment you lose hope is when it all starts to go downhill. I just kept positive, we knew we were quick enough to win, so we just tried to not let it fluster us too much and kept concentrating on the job we had to do.”
The next two rounds at Knockhill and Rockingham saw Ingram stamp his authority on the class once again, taking a win and two thirds in Scotland before storming to a double class win at the Rock, confirming his status as the number one driver in the class. This left him needing a strong weekend at Brands Hatch to secure the title and two second places meant he did just that.
Ingram said: “It's good to start and end the year in the same fashion. I think we've had a win at every circuit bar Snetterton, so we've been really consistent and always been on the pace. It's great to be up the front and finish the season off with some wins.”
Ingram's second consecutive championship win means he is without doubt leading the next generation of young racers in British motorsport. This group includes the likes of Jake Hill, Louise Richardson and Jody Fannin, who Ingram battled against in the Ginetta Juniors in 2010 and then again this season.
Ingram commented: “It's been enjoyable. You learn who you can race against and who you can't race with. From the Junior days and the karting days, I've raced against so many of them that I know who I can race with. It's good to have the same competitors year in year out, as everyone moves forwards and it's nice to be able to be the one leading that forward movement.”
All year the Buckinghamshire racer has struggled with getting the funding together to race and admits it's been touch and go as to whether he'd appear at meetings on many occasions, commenting: “It's been a nightmare to get out. It's been such a struggle and every weekend's been tough and go, having got to Thursday nights sometimes not knowing we're racing. It's been ridiculous, living off twelve pence meals for the past few months, that's how bad it's got. It's been so, so hard, but it's fantastic for it to pay off at the end.”
Two championship wins in two years has confirmed Ingram as one of the brightest young prospects in UK motorsport. It isn't enough for Ingram though and the MSA Academy member is looking to continue his success in 2012, whether that is in Ginetta's or Porsche's.
Ingram said: “I've been fortunate enough to work with two great teams in the three years I've been in cars now. It's going really well for me at the moment and next year I'm hoping to go just as well. I've got a free lease of a Ginetta G55 and also got down to the final four of the Porsche Scholarship, which is two fantastic opportunities there.
Before Ingram can settle down for the winter and the task of hunting sponsorship for next year, he has the Porsche Scholarship test day to look forward to, where he will go up against G50 rival Jody Fannin and two other drivers in early November. The winner will receive a large sum of money towards their 2012 budget for the series and Ingram is desperate to win.
He concluded: “I can't wait. Even if I don't win, I've got a free test in a Porsche, that's how I'm looking at it. Obviously I really want to win and it's a great opportunity that I can't wait for, just want it to hurry up and get here now.”