What an incredible weekend at Brands Hatch! After the stress and worries that we had throughout the year, it was a hugely emotional experience to be crowned champion, especially off the back of a title in 2010, too.
In FP1, we were comfortably quickest which was a real morale boost for us all, but we knew we couldn’t afford to relax too much as we had an important weekend ahead of us, so we concentrated on trying to improve the car. Unfortunately, in FP2, it developed a huge degree of understeer, which we put down to tyres going off. The Plans Motorsport boys worked hard overnight to try to diagnose the problem, but were unable to find anything major that might have caused it.
Going into qualifying, we were all hoping to try and grab another G50 pole position. I went out on new rubber, warming the tyres up and trying to get them ready for a banzai lap. When they were ready, I went for it, but the car still didn’t feel right; the understeer was still there, and going into Surtees on one lap, there was a huge bang and the car began snaking around violently – it felt like the wheel had fallen off!
I pulled over to the side and parked it next to a marshal’s post. I got out, and when I looked at the back wheel, I saw half an anti-roll bar! The bar was still connected on the driver’s side, and it wasn’t until I looked at the other side that I saw it was gone – it had snapped on the passenger side and managed to find its way through the back of the car and lodge itself in the wheel! Just six inches higher and it would have gone into the fuel tank..! Unfortunately, that meant I was unable to put a fast lap in and would consequently start off the back of the grid – not good for my championship bid.
We managed to get hold of another anti-roll bar, get it fitted and get the car strung up with 15 minutes to spare before race one. I knew I didn’t have to win, but just finish ahead of Jody Fannin who was starting off P3 – although I still had my work cut out to get ahead of him. I got a fantastic start and just concentrated on making up places, and I caught and passed Jody. I was on a mission, though, and merely finishing ahead of him wasn’t enough for me – I wanted to get at least a podium, which I did in coming all the way through to finish third.
In race two, I was starting off P3. Andy Richardson stalled on the line, so I jumped straight up into second, and I knew I only had to stay there and take no risks as that would give me a huge points haul. I held position right the way to the end, which left me needing only to finish on the podium in the final race to secure the title.
I got off to a brilliant start in race three and set about keeping nice and calm and not thinking too much about the championship, but just finishing the race where I was. The appearance of the safety car made it difficult to keep calm, however, as I also really needed the loo! Bad times!
When the safety car returned to the pits and the racing resumed, although I still didn’t need to make a move on the G50 leader, Aaron Williamson, in my mirror I could see that Andy Richardson and Jake Hill were starting to reel us in. I knew I had the pace to open up a gap over them if necessary, but at the same time, I didn’t want to get too close to Aaron in case he began defending and slowed us both up, thereby dropping us back into their clutches. On the last lap, though, Jake passed Andy, which gave me some breathing space to slow my pace up so as not to risk making a mistake. I came across the line to see the chequered flag being held, and the buzz I got was unreal! I just went mad!
I started crying, and it was just an amazing feeling. To win one championship is fantastic, but to do it again in a different class a year later is incredible!
I’d like to say a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone at Plans Motorsport, Ginetta, Michelin, Reg at Mr. Signs, One Drywash, Ash at Conquest Talent Management, Matthew and Leigh-Anne Kirby, Walker Logistics, everyone at the BRDC, Ellis Clowes, my parents and grandparents, www.thecheckeredflag.co.uk, Teng Tools, Cannon Moorcroft, Puzzle IT, Aspen Graphics, Crown Coaching, Race Drivers Inc. and all my Twitter followers – you guys are amazing!
And of course all my friends, family and fans – it has been an incredible year, from not even thinking we would be racing back at the start to being the 2011 Ginetta GT Supercup G50 Champion!
Thanks so much guys, and let’s now look forward to 2012 and who knows, maybe another championship next year!
Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter – TomIngram80 – and also follow my progress at: www.tom-ingram.com
Tom Ingram #1
2011 Ginetta GT Supercup G50 Champion
2010 Ginetta Junior Champion
BRDC Rising Star