Ginetta Junior star Tom Ingram extended his lead in the 2010 championship even further with victory in Round 16 of the series at Knockhill, in the process recording his second consecutive double win of the season. Despite losing the lead early on, the youngster played a patient game before snatching the lead back, holding on to record his fourth win out of four races. With his title advantage at 55 points with four races remaining, the Hillspeed driver is in pole position to take the 2010 crown as the season towards its conclusion.
Ingram began the race from pole position, as he did in the weekend's earlier round too. Championship rivals Jake Hill and Louise Richardson were next up, with Team Parker Racing's Adam Bonham making up row two. Tollbar Racing's Tom Howard and Hillspeed's Seb Morris sat on row three.
It was Hill who made the best start as the lights went out, jumping into the lead as they headed towards Duffus Dip for the first time. Ingram slotted into second, ahead of Richardson and Bonham. Behind, most of the cars made it through the first few bends unscathed, except the unfortunate David Moore, who was sent into a spin at the bottom of the dip.
Over the first few laps, the front two began to edge away, with Richardson having to defend from a determined Bonham behind. There was a change for fifth on lap three, 14 year old Morris getting past Howard with a slick move at the first corner.
Morris quickly set about catching the Bonham in fourth, while Richardson had managed to shake off his attentions and get onto the back of the leading duo. With the front two slowing each other up, Bonham soon caught up too, making it a four car train for the lead. A poor getaway from the hairpin on lap four saw Richardson lose her place to Bonham as they headed over the start finish line.
With the race reaching its halfway mark, Hill looked in control at the front, able to withstand everything Ingram could throw at him, while behind, Richardson was soon on the bumper of Bonham again, with Morris closing in on her bootlid.
Ingram soon got the upper hand at the front though. After nearly getting past as they headed towards the Hairpin on lap seven, the Hillspeed driver made his move on lap eight. Looking strong at the chicane throughout the race, Ingram sensed this was the place where he could make a move and jumped on the chance. A particularly strong exit from the chicane saw him draw alongside Hill, with Hill pushing him onto the grass in an attempt to defend the place. Ingram kept his foot in and slid past at Clark's for the lead.
Behind, third placed had changed again, with Richardson re-taking her place the Hairpin on lap seven. She quickly gained another spot, pouncing on Hill straight after he lost the lead, sliding past at the Hairpin. Hill wasn't going to lose two places in a lap without a fight and a better exit from the Hairpin saw him draw alongside over the start/finish straight and back into second.
It was then Richardson's turn to take the place back, the TJ Motorsport ace getting past at Clark's on lap nine, though her hard work was soon to be wasted, a individual error at Scotsman on lap ten seeing her run wide into the gravel, allowing Hill into second, though she recorded to keep third.
Behind, a superb drive by Morris, the championships youngest driver, saw him grab fourth from Bonham at the hairpin on lap ten, though his inexperience was soon to show. Pushing hard to try and get onto the back of the top three, he pushed too hard and made a mistake, dropping him to ninth.
As the pack entered its final lap, the last minute push to gain another place saw an action packed lap. First a problem for Jody Fannin saw him spin his car at Clarks, forcing many cars to take to the grass in avoidance. This bunched the pack up, culminating in a multi-car tangle at the Hairpin, started by Sarah Moore tagging Jake Giddings in the braking zone. All the cars made it to the finish, although some in worse condition than when they started the lap, with Moore, the reigning Ginetta Junior Champion, later penalised for gaining an unfair advantage.
At the front though, Ingram avoided any contact to take the win by nearly 5 seconds, his fifth victory of the season. The championship rivals locked out the podium, with Hill second, followed by Richardson third, for her eleventh podium of the season. Bonham finished fourth on the road, though was later excluded from the results due to yellow flag infringements. This promoted Tockwith's Maverick Domene to fourth, equalling his best ever finish in the series, with Howard fifth, ahead of Ryan Ractliffe, Max Coates and Alex Austin. Morris came home ninth, but it was still a great performance by the youngster, who showed he wasn't afraid to battle at the front of the pack. Brad Bailey completed the top ten, ahead of the recovering Fannin. The Moore siblings, David and Sarah, finished twelfth and fifteenth after their earlier spin and penalty respectively.
With Ingram also setting the fastest lap of the race, he ended the weekend with the maximum possible haul of 74 points, giving him a 55 points lead at the top of the standings as they head to Donnington Park in two weeks time for the penultimate two rounds of the 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship. Richardson and Hill are still in contention, though will both need superb weekends to make inroads into Ingram's advantage.
Provisional 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship Positions (after Rd16):
1st Tom Ingram, 442pts
2nd Louise Richardson, 387pts
3rd Jake Hill, 383pts
4th Jody Fannin, 289pts
5th Tom Howard, 289pts
6th David Moore, 254pts