Hillspeed ace Tom Ingram came out on top in a fascinating 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship, after a thrilling three way title battle with rivals Jake Hill and Louise Richardson. Racing in the new for 2010 Ginetta G40 model, the trio produced a memorable championship fight, full of twists and turns throughout, in the biggest season for the Junior series yet.
In the end, it proved to be his sheer consistency that set 17 year old Ingram apart from his opponents, with the youngster finishing outside the top five in just one race all season, picking up thirteen podium finishes, including five wins, along the way. Hill finished in second after also picking up thirteen podiums, containing ten wins, with twelve podiums, two of them victories, placing Richardson in third.
It was Tollbar Racing’s Hill who took the early lead in the title race, thanks to a superb run of winning the live televised Sunday race in each of the first six meetings. Another win at Croft made it seven wins in the first twelve races for the 16 year old, giving him the advantage in the title battle after the halfway point.
Despite Hill’s remarkable winning run, he was unable to shake off the attentions of the ever consistent Ingram and Richardson. A win for Ingram in the opening round of the season at Thruxton, followed by five more podium finishes, meant that by the time they left Snetterton after Round 12, Ingram was only four points behind Hill in the championship standings. Sandwiched between them was TJ Motorsport’s Richardson, who after a strong start to the season which saw her pick up six podiums, secured up her first win of the season with a superb recovery drive at Snetterton, moving her into second in the championship.
With four points separating the top three, it was built up to be a thrilling final four rounds to the season and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It was Ingram who seized the initiative and took control of the championship with a sublime run of four consecutive wins at Silverstone and Knockhill, building him a substantial advantage at the top of the standings. Hill hit back with a double of his own at Donington though, meaning the championship was to go down to the final rounds of the year at Brands Hatch. It ended up realistically being a two horse race at the finale, after frustrating weekends at Knockhill and Donington left Richardson out of contention.
And so the series and the fiercely contested championship battle rolled into Brands Hatch in early October for its much anticipated finale. With the pressure off her, the star of the meeting turned out to be Richardson, who took pole position and victory in the first race. Behind, Hill ran in second, but with Ingram behind, had to make a do or die move for the lead to keep his dreams alive. It didn’t work out, with his race ending in the gravel, confirming Ingram as champion. Hill went on to take his tenth win of the year in the final race of the season, with Ingram ending his year on the podium in second.
Let’s not be mistaken though, the 2010 Junior Series wasn’t all about the championship protagonists, with two other drivers taking race wins and a remarkable eight other drivers stepping foot on the podium over the course of the year, proving the competitiveness of the one make series.
Tom Howard was the first other driver to take a win, with victory in round three at Rockingham while driving for TJ Motorsport. It turned out to be the 15 year olds only win this year, but he went on to take three more podiums, one with Tollbar Racing after changing teams during the season.
Also striding onto the top step of the podium was TJ Motorsport’s rookie driver Jody Fannin, who became one of the stars of the season in his debut campaign. He took a great maiden win around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in Round 5, before repeating the feat at the next meeting at Oulton Park.
One of the stars of the early part of the season was Eurotech Racing’s David Moore, who took three consecutive podiums in first three races to hint at a challenge for the championship. However he was unable to maintain this form, but did end the season with five podium finishes, the best of the rest behind the top three. He also took the honour of highest placed Moore sibling in the championship, after sister and reigning champion Sarah struggled to adapt to the new G40 model. She eventually found her way onto the podium in Round 17 at Donington, with two podiums at the final meeting ending a frustrating year on a high.
A final mention has to go to Hillspeed driver Seb Morris, who at 14, after threatening to do so for many races, became the second youngest podium finisher in the series history with a third place in Round 18 at Donington Park. The other drivers to make a trip to the podium in 2010 were FML’s Alex Austin and Team Parker Racing pair Adam Bonham and Chris Swanwick.
The final championship standings look like this:
Here’s TCF’s choice of the Top 5 Ginetta Juniors in 2010:
- Jake Hill – Despite losing out on the championship, Hill was the stand out performer in 2010. Won 10 races out of 20, a remarkable feat, and showed great speed and race craft throughout. Sure to be many more championships to be won in years to come.
- Tom Ingram – Showed that you don’t always have to win races to win championships. Showed unbelievable consistency over the course of the season and drove smartly to stay out of trouble and take the title.
- Louise Richardson – Really made her mark on the 2010 series, produced some outstanding recovery drives and went on a superb run of eight consecutive podium finishes mid-season. Lost out on the championship after a couple of poor weekends, but deserves a lot of credit for a great year.
- Jody Fannin – Comfortably took the title of best rookie this season and turned quite a few heads with his performances. Was regularly battling at the front and his two victories should give him confidence to mount a title challenge if he sticks around next season.
- Seb Morris – Arguably the most improved driver of the year. Went from backmarker to front runner over the course of the year and took a well-deserved maiden podium at Donington. Like Fannin, if he stays he will be a contender for the 2011 crown.