After a long break, getting back into the car for Snetterton was a welcome event. One, because it had been so long since I had sat in my Ginetta G55, and secondly because I had been working so flat-out since Croft with meetings and coaching stuff that I was looking forward to a sit down!
Snetterton was the first time my car turned up on the grid with a completely new design. As you saw and heard, I picked up the KX Akademy backing at Croft, and Snetterton was the first weekend with all the branding on. I think the car looks fantastic now, and I have to say a massive ‘thank you’ to Tom Baker from Torque Marketing for making it look amazing.
Friday testing went really well, going quickest in FP1 and second-fastest in FP2 and the car was really well hooked-up. We made some changes throughout the test and really found some speed.
Saturday couldn’t arrive quickly enough; I was so excited for it after our great pace on Friday and qualifying went to-plan. I only did two ‘flying’ laps, but it was enough for P1 albeit by a mere 0.006 of a second – remarkably close around a 2.9-mile circuit!
Race one came, and I knew we had the pace to win – but as luck would have it, my dreaded Snetterton curse came back to bite me on the bum! I got off to a good start and maintained the lead for a couple of laps until the back of the car began bouncing almost uncontrollably on down-changes. I was getting horrific differential chatter, meaning that the diff’ was moving and twisting every time I tried to go down a gear. On lap three, Jake Hill made a blinding move to overtake me down towards Agostini. I was concentrating so much on keeping championship leader Tom Sharp behind me that I didn’t notice Jake sneaking past!
I managed to hold Tom off for the remainder of the race, but I knew we had more pace in the car once the diff’ issue had been resolved. On Saturday night, the JHR boys worked really hard until 1am to get my G55 back to a fast pace. I was determined to repay all their hard work by going all-out on Sunday to get the wins.
In Sunday’s first race, I lined up on P2 (the results from race one determine your grid position for race two), and I got a fantastic start and by the end of the opening lap already had a 1.3-second lead. What made it even better is that Sharp was only fifth at the time, meaning I was on-course to pick up some great points if things stayed as they were. I came over the line to start lap two and the car felt amazing; all the work JHR had put in was paying off, and I was confident I could get her home for P1. But it just goes to show that you should never count your chicks before they have hatched, as I went into the first hairpin shortly after and heard a big bang. The rear wheels locked solid and then the cockpit filled with smoke. The engine had blown as I was leading. Again, my Snetterton curse had reared its ugly head!
With not much time between races two and three, I was almost certain there was no way I was going to be out for the last one – but by the time the car was back in the awning, there was a new engine waiting to go in! We had three hours to do a complete engine change and clean up all the fire extinguisher powder the fantastic marshals had used to extinguish the fire. It didn’t seem possible, but I cannot begin to describe to you guys the amount of work that went into getting the old engine out and the new one in, and with just minutes to spare I heard a roar from the engine and a huge cheer from everyone and then a loud, ‘Tom, get your stuff on!’ The JHR boys had done it! Simply amazing, and I cannot describe how pumped I was for a decent result to repay them all!
Starting last, it was always going to be a tall order to score some solid points, but as the laps went past I was overtaking car after car after car, until I found myself in P5 behind Jamie Orton. Now these cars are so hard to drive when you are behind someone, as you lose all your aero meaning you have next-to-no turn-in and just understeer all over the place. Even with setting fastest lap, I couldn’t quite get Jamie and crossed the finish line just 0.006 seconds behind. I thought I’d got it and he thought he’d got it, but TSL declared Jamie was just ahead.
Still, P5 from the back of the grid was nonetheless a fantastic result and I have to say another huge ‘thank you’ for everyone’s tweets, Facebook messages and texts in the time leading up to the race – they really spurred me on to perform!
With the next round being at Knockhill in Scotland this weekend, I am hoping to have a much better time of things to try to claw back some crucial points after losing far too many at Snetterton.
Thank you very much for reading my blog, and you can keep up-to-date with all the news, shenanigans and general banter from the paddock and my life by following me on Twitter @TomIngram80 or taking a look at my website with loads of pictures and news stories at www.tom-ingram.com