Oulton Park has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for Tom Ingram, but that changed during Rounds Ten and Eleven of the 2011 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup, continuing his strong season with a win in race one and another podium in race two.
The Plans Motorsport driver has been in rich form so far in his maiden campaign in the G50 class, taking five wins from nine starts, meaning he headed to Cheshire with a sixty point advantage in the championship chase. The challenging circuit had rarely been kind to him in the past, despite it being the scene of his first pole position in cars two years ago.
Ingram said: “Oulton Park is a track I've always loved driving, but we'd never seemed able to convert our pace there into solid results before, so obviously I was hoping to turn that around. It's quite a technical and narrow circuit where you need to be really precise and can't afford to make a mistake. It's all about making sure you get the lines spot-on, and hitting the apexes is critical – and that's exactly how I like to drive.”
Saturday's qualifying saw the reigning Ginetta Junior champion continue his 100 per cent qualifying record this season, taking a comfortable pole position by over three tenths of a second. This left him in positive mood heading into the weekend's first race.
The BRDC Rising Star commented: “I got off to a really good start and led from the first corner onwards, really .I was under a little bit of pressure from behind for the first few laps, but then I got my head down and managed to build up a gap, keep my nose clean and generally just keep out-of-trouble. I made sure to look after the car, too, and preserve the tyres – it was a really hot day, and we had some minor brake and oil temperature issues, so I was mindful of not wanting to push too hard. I just tried to keep it all silky-smooth.
“It was obviously really good to get another win on the board and keep the points racking up. We showed we had the pace to go out there with no pre-weekend testing and be the fastest again – and it was nice to get my Oulton Park monkey off my back at last, too!”
The win was his fourth successive triumph this season and also marked his first trip to the podium at Oulton Park. His dominance of the race was proved with his best lap time over half a second faster than any of his G50 rival's, form he was hoping to repeat in the second encounter, however the weather was to scupper those hopes.
The 17 year old reflected: “The race started off dry, and for the first two or three laps I was edging away a bit. Then it began to rain, though, and as I was the first G50 going into the corners, I was always wondering, 'how slippery is it going to be?'
“I was having to try to gauge the conditions against the G55s a little way ahead, and on one lap, three or four of them went straight on at the Knickerbrook Chicane. After seeing the way they had all been sliding around, I went into the chicane a bit too cautiously and lost the G50 lead to Lee Pattison.
“I let him go, though, because he isn't a threat to me in the championship, and I was wary of pushing too hard. I also thought that at the pace he was going, he was probably going to throw it off, which he duly did, so I just concentrated on my own race.
“A couple of laps later, coming out of the first corner, I had Jake Hill right up behind me, and I got a slide and just touched the kerb on the outside. The car snapped away from me and sent me sideways at about 100mph – it was so unexpected. There's a massive bump on the grass there, and when I hit it, I just took off and went bouncing through the air.
“One of our major concerns all weekend, every weekend is that we can't afford to damage the car, and there I was staring at the barrier thinking it was a little too close for comfort, but fortunately I managed to keep hold of it all and get back on the track – I have no idea how!
“That dropped me down to third, after which I decided to play it a bit more carefully and just settle for the points. The two guys ahead were properly going for it, but as I have such a big championship lead, I knew there was no point in risking anything – they weren't close enough to me in the table to risk chasing them down.”
The weekend saw the Race Drivers Inc. member outscore all of his adversaries over the weekend, extending his championship lead to 81 points, while his form also sees him move atop the outright Ginetta GT Supercup standings.
Tom concluded: “I'd like to say a huge 'thank you' to both Plans Motorsport and Walker Logistics for enabling me to get out and race at Oulton. The team put a great effort in all weekend as always, and I'm so grateful to them and to Walker Logistics for having had the faith in me to support me again.
“We've got a bit of an edge in the championship which means we don't necessarily have to win races now – we can settle for points sometimes – so that eases the pressure on-track a little bit, but unfortunately, we can't really think 'long-term' like that, because our financial situation means we don't even know if we're going to be able to make it out for the next round. I just hope and pray something comes up.”