As his prize for clinching the 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship crown, former British Karting Champion Tom Ingram has earned himself a test drive with Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) outfit Pirtek Racing at Silverstone – and he is palpably champing at the bit to get behind the wheel.
In lifting the Ginetta Junior laurels at Brands Hatch earlier this month, Hillspeed ace Ingram defeated arch-rival Jake Hill at the end of a season-long duel, and capped an impressive campaign that had seen him notch up five race victories, six pole positions, 13 podium finishes and eight fastest laps from 20 starts.
His maiden car racing title in only his second year out-of-karts, the highly-rated High Wycombe teenager now has something pretty special indeed to look forward to for his triumphant efforts, as he prepares to take to the track around Silverstone's National Circuit in Pirtek's NGTC-powered Vauxhall Vectra, a car that was raced to victory by Andrew Jordan at Croft back in June and then again in the Brands Hatch finale.
“I can't wait!” enthused the Conway House, Teng Tools, NP Aerospace and Mr. Signs-backed star. “It will be the most powerful car I've ever driven, and it should be a lot of fun! It's just a massive opportunity, absolutely fantastic, and I have to thank both Pirtek and Ginetta for it. I think I will be one of the youngest drivers ever to test a touring car at only 17 – and that will be great publicity, too, in helping to get my name out there more.
“The fact that Pirtek are prepared to let me out in their car demonstrates a level of trust and confidence in me, which is always nice to see. It really is a dream come true – it's going to be absolutely unbelievable!”
Jordan himself knows how it feels to be in Ingram's shoes, having made his BTCC debut aged just 18 three years ago, and having since established himself as a front-runner in what is arguably the toughest tin-top series the world over. The former multiple British Rallycross Champion admits that he is eager to see how his young protégé adapts.
“It's quite a prize for Tom, and he deserves it because he's done a really good job,” he affirmed. “I've kept an eye on the Ginetta Junior Championship this year, and Tom has pushed when he has had to push and scored points when he has needed to score points. It's all about being a complete driver at the end of the day, and I was pleased to see him win the championship.
“To get a test in a touring car at his age is something pretty special, and he seems really enthusiastic about it. I'm sure he will be willing to learn, and that way we can teach him quite a bit. The Vectra has a sequential gearbox, and the brakes are massively better than what Tom will have been used to. That will take quite a lot of acclimatisation, so we want to make sure we give him enough time to familiarise himself with everything.
“When I started racing touring cars, I did find it hard at first – the biggest thing was that the BTCC is just so competitive! You can do a lap time that you think is mega, and it turns out it was only good enough for 13th-quickest or something! You always have to dig deep, and you are always learning – but that's far better than going into something where you're just winning all the time.
“I'm keen to see how Tom gets on. He seems like a really nice lad, and I'm looking forward to spending the time with him. At the end of the day, the Vectra is still a car, and he is clearly a good pedaller so he should be fine.”