2013 was without doubt Tom Ingram’s year in the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup.
A highly-talented grid that featured established Supercup front-runners, talented Ginetta Junior graduates and former champions from other series came together for a year of fantastic, competitive racing – however none of them could beat Ingram.
Heading into the campaign after a superb run to third in the points in his maiden G55 season in 2012, Ingram had high hopes for a championship challenge. The 20 year old would have never expected such an incredible campaign though.
Dominant from the off, Ingram embarked on a sensational run of 22 consecutive podium finishes that gave him a firm grasp of the championship lead throughout the season. The JHR Developments driver went on to wrap up the title in style at Silverstone with a weekend to spare.
Within that run came eleven race wins, matching Tom Sharp’s championship record from 2012. The KX Akademy member aimed to break the record at the season finale, but a heavy opening race accident ruled him out of the weekend.
While his first retirements of the season left that record out his grasp, they took nothing away from the champion’s superb season, which saw the former Juniors and G50 victor complete the final part of his unique Ginetta championship hat-trick.
Ingram’s main rival in the championship battle was reigning Supercup champion Carl Breeze, who headed into his fifth straight Ginetta season hoping to defend his crown.
Unfortunately for Breeze, his title defence never really got going with Total Control Racing. As Ingram consistently clocked up the wins and podiums, ongoing problems with his G55 often put Breeze on the back-foot.
While the former BTCC racer was able to use his experience and renowned race craft to battle to fourteen podium finishes, showing flashes of what he can do with six wins, the 34 year old ultimately wasn’t on Ingram’s level, finishing the year over 130 points adrift as vice-champion.
The driver who was closest to Ingram on raw pace over the year was Academy Motorsport boss Matt Nicoll-Jones. The former British GT4 champion set off with a strong start to the season, with four podiums in the first six races, but lacked the consistency over the middle of the season to really challenge Ingram for the title.
The 28 year old had some stand out performances though, particularly north of the border when he sensationally took two wins and a second place from the Knockhill weekend. A total of twelve podium finishes for the year gave him third in the championship standings.
As well as champion Ingram, there was a second KX Akademy member battling at the front this season, with Rob Boston enjoying a strong maiden campaign in the Supercup. Getting to grips with the championship and the car, the 31 year old’s pace improved as the season wore on.
After regular podium finishes through the season, it all came together for Boston on the final weekend with a superb pair of victories at Brands Hatch. Those wins, making it seven podiums for the season, gave him fourth in the points and helped JHR to the team’s championship.
Another Supercup rookie to stand-out this season was Pepe Massot, who joined the series after an impressive maiden car-racing campaign in Ginetta Juniors last year. Running with series newbies Hillspeed, Massot burst onto the scene with a win at each of the opening two meetings at Brands Hatch and Donington Park.
While he was unable to return to the top step of the podium as the season progressed, leading to mid-season team changes to Century Motorsport and then JHR Developments, a run of four podium finishes in the final five races meant he ended the season on a high.
Fellow Ginetta Junior graduate Andrew Watson wasn’t able to reach the success of Massot though, with a coveted race win proving to be just out of his reach. The Irishman was in the mix at the front of the field throughout his and the Douglas Motorsport team’s first season in the series though, taking three podium finishes over the year despite some rotten luck.
There were high hopes for Mark Davies heading into the season, the 2012 G50 class winner having taken two wins on his G55 debut at the final rounds last year. The 32 year old found going a little tougher than expected with TCR though, carding just five podium finishes including a solitary win at Snetterton.
Jamie Orton had an up and down season too, with three early podiums and a maiden Supercup win in the final race of the season being the highlights. Carl Boardley impressed meanwhile, the former Hot Rod World Champion taking regular top six finishes in his first season, including a hard-fought podium at Thruxton.
As usual in the Supercup, there were a number of drivers embarking on short spells in the series. Century Motorsport boss Nathan Freke made a one-off return at Oulton Park, dominating the weekend with a pair of victories, while former G50 race-winner Max Coates joined the team for his home meeting at Croft, the Yorkshireman impressing with a maiden G55 podium.
Single-seater convert Tom Oliphant ran with Century at Rockingham and Silverstone, getting a taste of the series ahead of a full campaign in 2014, while World Touring Car star Alex MacDowall joined Total Control Racing for the final two meetings to get some vital rear wheel drive race experience.
While the G55 category was enjoying strong grids and competitive racing, the same couldn’t be said for the championship’s G50 category. The class was plagued by small grids throughout, reaching a low of zero entrants at Knockhill, with only one driver completing more than three weekends of the season.
That driver was Sean Huyton. The 2012 Ginetta GT5 Challenge champion was the leader of the G50 field from start-to-finish, benefitting from his lack of rivals to dominate the class with fourteen class wins in seventeen races, wrapping up the title during the seventh meeting of the year at Knockhill despite not even travelling to Scotland.
From Rockingham onwards the 23 year old competed in the G55 class and was instantly on the pace of the front-runners. A podium finish on his maiden weekend was the highlight, with two further top six finishes following.
Reece Somerfield and Dan Norris-Jones challenged Huyton in the G50’s early on, Somerfield taking a class win double on the opening weekend, Norris-Jones picking up eight class podiums in the first nine races, but both drivers swiftly stepped up to the G55 class.
There was a late surge in entries for the class though, with Ginetta Challenge front-runner Will Burns joining for the final three weekends, taking seven consecutive class podiums.
He was joined by category regulars Louise Richardson and Rob Gaffney for the last two meetings, the former impressing in particular with four class wins in five races.
TCF’s Top Five Ginetta GT Supercup Drivers Of 2013:
5. Sean Huyton – While it’s fair to say Huyton didn’t face any real, sustained competition in the G50’s, the 23 year old showed consistent, strong pace to wrap up the title in style. He showcased his potential further during his run in the G55’s and will be one to watch in 2014.
4. Rob Boston – A multiple club racing champion, this was a big season for Boston as he aimed to impress full-time on the BTCC stage for the first time. One of the most likeable characters in the BTCC support paddock, Boston developed into one of the stars of the championship and richy deserved his wins at Brands.
3. Pepe Massot – This was a real breakthrough year for the Spaniard, who took everyone by surprise with his two early wins. While a couple of changes of team disrupted his flow, it was an impressive second season of car racing for Massot, who will surely be a title contender with JHR in 2014.
2. Matt Nicoll-Jones – Nicoll-Jones was a revelation in his first season in the Supercup, producing some superb performances whilst having the tricky task of juggling the roles of team owner and racing driver. His performance at Knockhill was exemplary, and it’s a shame he won’t be returning next year.
1. Tom Ingram – It was a true champion’s performance from Ingram this season. Undoubtedly the fastest driver on the grid, he used his advantage to startling effect, with his run of 22 consecutive podiums a sight to behold. The Brands incident was a shame, but it was still an incredible year for the champion.
Final 2013 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup ‘G55’ Standings:
1. Tom Ingram – 763pts
2. Carl Breeze – 626pts
3. Matt Nicoll-Jones – 530pts
4.Rob Boston – 514pts
5. Pepe Massot – 492pts
6. Mark Davies – 470pts
7. Andrew Watson – 372pts
8. Jamie Orton – 370pts
9. Carl Boardey – 316pts
10. Reece Somerfield – 295pts
11. Fergus Walkinshaw – 244pts
12. Marcus Hoggarth – 221pts
13. Dan Norris-Jones – 152pts
14. Colin White – 133pts
15. Sean Huyton – 97pts
16. James Birch – 88pts
17. Nathan Freke – 71pts
18. Alex MacDowall – 68pts
19. Max Coates – 66pts
20. Brad Bailey – 35pts
21. Tom Oliphant – 32pts
22. Osamu Kawashima – 29pts
23. Rob Smith – 27pts
24. David Dickenson – 19pts
Final 2013 Ginetta GT Supercup ‘G50’ Standings:
1. Sean Huyton – 565pts
2. Dan Norris-Jones – 236pts
3. Will Burns – 215pts
4. Louise Richardson – 176pts
5. Rob Gaffney – 144pts
6. Reece Somerfield – 100pts
7. Dan Jones – 90pts
8. Simon Green – 48pts
9. Oliver Basey-Fisher – 44pts