Reigning Ginetta Junior champion Tom Ingram is looking set to miss out on the opening rounds of 2011, after a tough winter trying to raise the budget required to compete. The 17 year old has been trying to put together a deal to compete in the Ginetta GT Supercup and while it's looking unlikely he will be out at Brands this weekend, he's told TCF he is not giving up hope.
It proves the harsh fact of life in motorsport that a talented driver like Ingram cannot find the backing to compete, especially coming off the back of the superb season he enjoyed in 2010. He took the title with five wins and a superb consistency record that saw him finish outside the top four in just two races out of twenty.
Looking back over last year, Ingram said: “At the start of the 2010 season, we did not think that I would be racing due to a shortfall in my budget. Luckily, we managed to get to the first round at Thruxton, but without any pre-season testing I was on the back foot to many of my fellow competitors – so to win the first round and be the first ever winner in the new Ginetta G40 was fantastic. Sadly, with a puncture in race two it spoiled what could have been a double win weekend.
“From race weekend to race weekend we struggled to find the funding, but with the brilliant help of friends and family I managed to keep going. Halfway through the year we had welcome support from NP Aerospace and Stephen Robinson from Conway House Dental Practice, along with the help of Baz Scott and his members at Race Drivers Inc.
“With my solid consistency throughout the year, I went into the last round at Brands Hatch with a comfortable, but not unassailable lead. Knowing that my consistency meant all I needed to do was finish, I did not feel much pressure and to win the championship was truly an amazing achievement. I was shouting and screaming so much in the car that I had lost my voice for all the post-race media and press interviews!
“I have many personal highlights from the season – being the first ever G40 winner; having my first double pole, double win and double fastest lap on my 17th birthday weekend at Silverstone and the brilliant weekend at Knockhill, which was a circuit I had never been to before, with a double pole, double win and double fastest lap again. These two weekends proved to be the turning-point of the season.”
Throughout the season, Ingram enjoyed some superb battles with Jake Hill and Louise Richardson, a rivalry that fans could enjoy again if Ingram manages to join the Supercup: “The rivalry with Jake and Louise I enjoyed greatly – we had some great battles and I really hope we can continue our rivalry this season.”
As part of the prize for winning the series, Ingram was given the chance to test a Touring Car, a chance he relished: “A brilliant and amazing highlight was having the opportunity to drive Andrew Jordan's race-winning British Touring Car. I thought that I would only have a few laps, but a huge thank you to Andrew and Mike Jordan for giving me the opportunity of a whole day's test.”
Ingram's also had the opportunity to test a G50 over the winter, which is a step up from the G40 he ran last year: “I've had half a day's testing of approximately 40 laps in a G50, which I really enjoyed and wished it could have been more. I feel that there is not a huge amount of difference in terms of driving style from the G50 to the G40, only the increased power, weight and grip.”
While out testing, Tom's attention was also focused on getting the budget together for this season, so he could take the next step in his career. However this has proved to be a very tough task, as he explains: “Since winning the championship in October, we set about finding sponsorship partners for the 2011 season. We have constantly been contacting and chasing leads, but it has proved extremely frustrating and difficult.
“I have been to many of my local business networking groups and have made presentations, but at this time we have been unsuccessful in raising any budget. With the start of the new season looming, it is looking highly unlikely that I will make the starting line-up.”
It will be a race against time for Ingram to see if he can get himself out on the grid for Brands Hatch, but he will be doing all he can to make it happen.