Tom Ingram shone through the spray to tally a brace of podiums in the BTCC-supporting, ITV4-televised Ginetta GT Supercup at Thruxton, but after being cruelly denied a second victory in as many weeks by mechanical woes, he has vowed to come out ‘all guns blazing’ in pursuit of the crown over the remainder of the 2012 campaign.
Tom travelled to Thruxton – the fastest and most fearsome circuit in Britain – with his tail up off the back of his breakthrough Ginetta GT Supercup success in only his sixth race in the headlining G55 class a fortnight earlier. What’s more, the high-speed Hampshire venue had been the scene of his maiden car racing rostrum in 2009, debut win in 2010 and a spectacular triple triumph in 2011 – so hopes were justifiably high.
“I’ve always really enjoyed the track,” confessed the talented young High Wycombe ace. “The challenge is that because it’s so fast-and-flowing, you have to carry as much mid-corner speed as possible whilst at the same time setting your car up for the slow stuff as well. Obviously I was confident after Donington, but my main focus was on staying out of trouble and scoring as many points as possible.”
Torrential rain weekend-long made for treacherous conditions indeed, and qualifying marked the first time that Tom had ever driven his JHR Developments-prepared G55 in the wet. That being the case, P2 on the starting grid for race one – less than a quarter of a second shy of the top spot – was a tremendous accomplishment, and the 18-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star and MSA Academy member would continue such impressive form throughout the first two races.
“The biggest thing was putting your trust in the aerodynamics through the high-speed sections in the wet,” he explained. “Going through the fast corners with the car moving around underneath me definitely took a bit of getting used to initially! I also had a ‘moment’ on my best lap in qualifying which may have cost me pole.
“It was very cold and the circuit was very ‘green’ in race one, making it especially difficult to warm the tyres, and we made a slight set-up error which in hindsight was a mistake on my part. At the start, I tried to go around the outside of the pole-sitter Tom Sharp into the first corner, but I couldn’t quite make the move stick. I was never far behind him all the way through the race, but I had Carl Breeze keeping me honest, too, and I was pleased to finish second as it represented good, solid points.
“The track was extremely wet for race two on Sunday morning, but I got a good launch off the line and pushed Sharp quite hard for the opening half. Visibility was really poor, though, and when the rain began falling more heavily, big puddles formed so I made the decision to concentrate on holding onto second place rather than risking a move that could have left us both in the barriers.”
With the pair proving to be in a league of their own for much of the weekend, Tom’s two runner-up spots maintained the pressure on championship leader Sharp, and the former Ginetta G50 Champion, Ginetta Junior Champion and British Karting Champion drew third spot on the race three reverse-grid, one place ahead of his chief rival. By Turn One, he was already in the lead – but after stretching his legs in the early stages, on lap nine, disaster struck when the #80 machine suddenly slowed with terminal driveshaft issues.
“I was confident in the car that I could pull away,” he recounted, “and after Donington, I knew I could control the race from the front. Before long, though, I began struggling for traction in the wet conditions, causing me to slide all over the place. At first, I thought it was just my tyres, until I came down to Church Corner – the fastest part of the circuit – and lost all drive right on the apex, which upset the balance of the car. That was a pretty scary moment...”
Whilst it was not the end to the weekend that Tom had either wanted or deserved, the positives to take away from Thruxton were many. As he heads into a month-long break before the next outing on the Ginetta GT Supercup calendar at Oulton Park at the beginning of June, the highly-rated Bucks speed demon knows he is firmly in the hunt – but at 49 points adrift of Sharp in the title standings on dropped scores, there is ground to make up, and he promises that when the action resumes, it will be maximum attack.
“It was obviously disappointing to lose the win like that, but unfortunately that’s racing and you have to take the rough with the smooth,” he maturely concluded, making a point of thanking JHR and sponsors Hansford Sensors, Matthew & Leigh-Anne Kirby, One Dry Wash, Race-Keeper and Teng Tools. “We need to start pushing for more wins now to prevent Sharp from extending his advantage, so next time, it will be all guns blazing!”
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