Tom Ingram was crowned 2010 Ginetta Junior champion yesterday at Brands Hatch as his rival Jake Hill slide off track after an ambitious move at Paddock Hill bend.
Louise Richardson who’s championship hopes pretty much ended at the last round drove a dominant race to lead from pole position to chequered flag.
Off the start Richardson and Hill battled in to the first corner with the TJ motorsport driver taking full advantage of her pole position. Alex Austin made a jump from ninth place up to fifth just behind 2009 champion Sarah Moore. Jody Fannin who started in fourth dropped back to eighth.
Lap two would see Seb Morris drop from sixth to eighth after running wide out of Paddock Hill bend. The battle for seventh place was starting to hot up between Maverick Domene, Morris and William Foster.
Domene’s race would take a turn on the fifth lap he took a trip through the gravel at the outside of Hailwood Hill dropping him back to thirteenth place moving Morris up to seventh, Foster to eighth.
Richardson held the lead as Hill and Ingram stuck to her tail, Hill piled on the pressure as he recorded a new lap record of 56.864 seconds to gain a bonus point.
Just when Domene thought things couldn’t get any worse he spun in to the gravel at Paddock Hill bend, it wouldn’t end there though as he as collected by Ryan Ratcliffe as he ran wide. Thankfully both drivers would walk away from the incident relatively unharmed, the same couldn’t be said for their cars though.
The safety car would come out for four laps as the Domene/Ratcliffe recovery effort got underway.
Lap 19 would be decisiveve in the championship as Jake Hill looked to make the most of the restart as he shot past Richardson in to Paddock Hill Bend. Unfortunately for Hill his tyres weren’t up to temperature and he didn’t have the grip he needed, sliding off the track and out of the race, taking with him his championship hopes in a cloud of dust.
Ingram moved to second place and secured his championship with a fine podium drive as Richardson took her second victory of the season setting up a great battle between herself and Hill in the bid to grab second place in the championship.
Final place on the podium would go to outgoing champion Sarah Moore, taking her second podium finish of the year in what has been a hard year. Alex Austin took fourth place as he made returned to the top end of the result sheets. Jody Fannin secured his best result in eight races with fifth position ahead of Seb Morris. William Foster equalled his best finish of the season with a seventh place ahead of Tom Howard, Jake Giddings and Max Coates who rounded out the top ten.
Speaking of the win after the race Richardson said: “Second in the championship is definitely open to us now. Coming into this weekend we knew we definitely had third so we'd got nothing to lose. It's the last time I'm going to be able to drive this car as I'll be too old to compete in Ginetta Junior next year so we're just having some fun this weekend, going out there and enjoying it.”
Although taking her second podium of the year Sarah Moore was disappointed as her boyfriend Jake Hill’s championship came to an end. “It was a good race for me but I'm really disappointed for Jake, I'm gutted for him so that's who my bottle of champagne is going to this weekend. We needed to get on the podium to help try and get a deal lined up for next year – maybe in Ginetta G50. I'll be pushing hard for another podium tomorrow.”
Champion Ingram sung the praises of the team that took him to his championship: “There are so many people to thank this year, all of my sponsors have been tremendous and the guys at Hillspeed have been incredible – it's been such a team effort all season.”
“They're the best bunch of lads I know, they work so hard for every extra millisecond.” he added.
“In the race, I just had to wait in third and see what happened. I knew if I stayed there and kept out of trouble I could win the championship today. It's amazing to have achieved it and the prize of the touring car test drive really is a dream come true, it's going to be absolutely unbelievable! It's hard for Jake (Hill) for it to end the way it did but he's been a great rival and we've had some great races.”
In winning the championship Ingram also secured a test in the Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra normally piloted by Andrew Jordan in the British Touring Car Championship.