Tom Ingram has a real weekend of two halves at Croft in the latest rounds of the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup. Saturday saw him continue his 100% pole position record this season in the G50's, before going on to take his seventh class win. Sunday however saw two hefty accidents end his races and allow rivals to cut his gap at the top of the championship standings.
The High Wycombe based racer had his team Plans Motorsport to thank for getting him on the grid at Croft, the team stepping in at the last minute to ensure he got out racing at a circuit the 17 year old has performed well at in the past, taking two podiums there last season on his way to the Ginetta Junior title.
Ingram enthused: “I really love Croft. It's one of my favourites. I've always been quick there but have never had much luck. It seems to suit my driving style quite well; you have to be really precise and make sure you hit all the apexes right. It's quite tight, twisty and technical with effectively just one long straight, so there's not a huge amount of opportunity to relax around the lap. I need to say a massive 'thank you', as well, to Plans Motorsport for getting me out at the weekend – without their help, I wouldn't have been racing.”
The BRDC Rising Star stormed to pole position in qualifying, setting the eighth fastest time overall, beating some of the more powerful G55 cars. Three tenths faster than his nearest G50 rival, it was Ingram's fifth successive pole this season and it was pace he took into that day's race.
Tom commented: “Even on my quickest lap I made a small mistake when I ran a little bit wide and missed the apex through one of the corners, so I knew there was another tenth or two to come and I was confident I could maintain a consistent pace throughout the races.
“I got off to a decent start in the first of them and made some good progress on the opening lap. I managed to hold onto the G50 lead and then overtook a couple of G55s to give myself a little bit of breathing space. After that, I just kept pushing to try to extend the gap, whilst not taking too much life out of my tyres.
“With the pace we had, I was really gaining on some of the other G55s as the race went on, and I managed to get past them as quickly as possible so as not to risk getting held up too much. I was able to pick people off when I wanted to and I even overtook some of the faster guys – including Stefan Hodgetts and Tim Harvey. With two laps to go, I was up to fifth place and closing in on two G55s ahead, and with just one more lap I reckon I would have been right on the back of them and pushing for an overall podium.”
“I was really pleased to get the win, and it was even more special to have achieved it whilst battling against cars from a higher class. It was brilliant – definitely my best race of the season so far.”
The win increased his championship lead to 96 points, but that was unfortunately the last highlight of an increasingly tough weekend. With some rivals starting from the pits, Ingram worked his way to a superb second overall in the second race, but with the track drying, he slipped down the order on his wet tyres. The rain returned soon after and the fightback looked to be on, but he was quickly shunted into the barriers and out of the race by a rival.
The team repaired the cars cosmetic damage, but only when Ingram took to the track for race three did he notice the car was pulling to the right with a damage steering arm. This meant when he got to the tracks first left hander, the car snapped away from him and sent him backwards into the barriers, in the same spot as the race two accident. He tried to carry on with the rear of the car missing, but had to retire soon after.
Ingram concluded: “It was one of the best days of the season followed immediately by one of the worst – straight from a high to a low – but that's motor racing. We've been very lucky for the past year-and-a-half – we got through the whole of 2010 without any damage at all – so I guess it was always going to happen at some stage.”
The Race Drivers Inc. member heads into the mid-season summer break with a 42 point championship lead and now has seven weeks to try and raise the sufficient funding required to compete at Snetterton in August and keep his title charge rolling.