Ingram tops off ‘fantastic year’ with runaway charge to young driver award
After being appointed a British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star in January and clinching his second car racing crown in swift succession with the Ginetta G50 Cup laurels in October, Tom Ingram concluded 2011 with the bestowal of yet another prestigious accolade – that of Radio Le Mans’ Young Driver of the Year.
Tom only discovered that he had been nominated when a friend informed him via Twitter, and in a category that pitched him directly against two very high-calibre rivals, the talented young High Wycombe-based star extraordinarily garnered a staggering 71 per cent of the vote to seal a dominant success.
Following a rollercoaster campaign in the ITV-televised, British Touring Car Championship-supporting Ginetta GT Supercup – one that yielded an impressive ten victories, 18 podiums, 13 fastest laps and seven pole positions in his first season in a G50, but also featured a torrid mid-summer run of ill-fortune that at one point left the cash-strapped 18-year-old and his family wondering whether they would even be able to carry on – Tom confessed that the Radio Le Mans recognition represented the icing on the cake.
“It was an honour just to be put forward for something like this in the first place,” reflected the MSA Academy member and former Ginetta Junior Champion and British Karting Champion. “To then win it by such a margin up against a Red Bull-backed NASCAR driver and another who had won an international scholarship in the form of the GT Academy was really special, and quite a shock. It marked a brilliant end to what was a fantastic year – and hopefully we can make it a hat-trick of car racing titles in 2012!”
Indeed, this year, Tom is aiming to step on up again to the headlining G55 class of the Ginetta GT Supercup as he plots his path towards what he hopes will be a touring car debut in 2013 – but looking further ahead still, his Radio Le Mans triumph has certainly set the highly-rated Bucks speed demon thinking.
“Someone at Radio Le Mans apparently said, ‘this kid will be racing at Le Mans in a few years’,” he revealed, “and to compete there is definitely on my ‘to do’ list as one of my targets for the future. If you look at the drivers who have won the Le Mans 24 Hours, so many of them already had a lot of experience in that kind of racing – so it would be great to be able to go there at a young age and make an impact.
“Endurance racing is a whole different ballgame and requires a completely different approach to the standard sprint races that I’m used to – but I also think it would really suit the way I like to drive. You need to look after the car, get into a rhythm and then stay smooth and consistent and not make any mistakes – and you have to show respect to every other driver on the track. It’s as racing should be, and the Le Mans 24 Hours isn’t called the toughest race in the world for nothing. To be a part of it one day would be absolutely phenomenal.”