as he targets car racing title number three
Tom Ingram has a third consecutive car racing title in his sights in 2012, after inking a deal to campaign a Ginetta G55 for front-running outfit JHR Developments in the fiercely-contested Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup, due to rev into life at Brands Hatch this coming weekend as the leading support series to the hugely popular and ITV4-televised Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
Tom is already something of a Ginetta celebrity, after clinching the Ginetta Junior Championship crown in 2010 – only his second season out of karts – and the Ginetta G50 Cup laurels last year, but now, he is well aware, he is facing his sternest test yet. Having been deluged by a plethora of offers following his 2011 success – and having engaged in serious discussions with three different teams – the talented young High Wycombe speed demon reflects that signing with JHR was the ‘perfect’ outcome.
“First and foremost, we wanted to go with a team that had a professional outlook, looked the part and did everything right – and for us, JHR ticked all the boxes,” he explains. “Their success speaks for itself, and if you look at all the championships they have raced in, there’s clearly a huge amount of experience inside the team, which is very encouraging. The guys all seem extremely passionate and knowledgeable about what they do, and I just feel it’s a very positive career step for me.”
The only running Tom has been able to do in a G55 to-date has been a handful of passenger laps on the Ginetta pre-season media day at Silverstone and during a ‘Help for Heroes’ track day, meaning the first time he will have the opportunity to really drive the car in anger or try anything out on it will be on practice day at Brands Hatch on Friday. If that is a considerable disadvantage, then the 18-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star and MSA Academy member is adamant that it is not one that will hamper him in the slightest.
“We are on the back foot a little in that respect,” he muses, “given that a lot of the other drivers have been out testing since December, but by the same token, that’s no different to how it’s been over the last two years, and it’s never held us back before so there’s no reason why it should this year, either.
“I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve experienced of the G55 so far; the aerodynamics create a lot more downforce than on the G50, which means that through the high-speed stuff, it has so much more mid-corner grip. It’s obviously a little bit more powerful, too, and overall, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to drive. I’m really excited to be stepping into a new car and taking on a new challenge.
“There’s only one goal, and that’s to make it a hat-trick by winning the championship. The competition is going to be as tough as ever, so we’ve got to hit the ground running straightaway and really grab the bull by the horns. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out – until we get to the first round, I don’t think anybody really has any idea, but I’d say there are at least four other guys who will be serious title contenders.
“I’m just approaching it as I do every single year, though. It will be a long championship, and it won’t be won in the first round or even the second round. It will be won over the balance of all 28 races, so we will need to be consistently up at the front and finishing strongly the whole way through. If there are occasions when we need to settle for second or third, then we will settle for second or third. By all means I will be racing hard and pushing for wins, but ultimately, the championship will always be uppermost in my mind.”
Those sentiments are echoed by JHR founder Steve Hunter, whose Derbyshire-based outfit has competed in no fewer than 13 different series since its launch back in 1995 – and triumphed in seven of them. Hunter is convinced that Tom is just the driver his team needs to replicate that glory in the Ginetta GT Supercup.
“With any championship we enter, we never take it lightly, and having already won in every other support series on the BTCC package, our intention clearly is to emulate that success in the Ginetta GT Supercup,” he affirms. “Tom has won back-to-back titles in the past two years, and we want to be the team that takes him to a third.
“He has settled in superbly and is working well with all the boys, and he has proved over the last couple of years that he has the driving ability, technical feedback and mental strength you need to be a winner. There are some very good drivers out there in G55s this year, and our aim is to compete against them and beat them. There is so much more to winning a championship than simply being a quick driver, and we are confident that in Tom, we’ve got the complete package.”
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