Mike Jordan 'isn't impressed easily', concedes his son – and Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship front-runner – Andy, so for Tom Ingram to be described as 'outstanding' by the Eurotech boss and likely to 'go a very long way' in motorsport after a day spent driving Pirtek Racing's Vauxhall Vectra at Silverstone must be considerably high praise indeed.
The Pirtek test was the prize for Ingram's success in clinching the 2010 Ginetta Junior Championship crown – his maiden car racing title in only his second season out-of-karts – at Brands Hatch last month, and the highly-rated young High Wycombe star admitted that the prospect of taking to the track around the most famous circuit in Britain behind the wheel of a fully-fledged, 300bhp touring car had left him rather sleepless...
“I was absolutely buzzing beforehand,” he confessed, at 17, one of the youngest people ever to drive a BTCC machine. “I couldn't get to sleep the night before because I was so excited about it all, and when I got to Silverstone I just couldn't wait to get out in the car!
“The first lap felt really, really strange. It's the first front wheel-drive racing car I've ever driven, and I went through Copse Corner sideways at one point – it was just mental! I also had to adjust to the size of the car, the speed, the gearbox, the weight, the brakes and the braking distances. It wasn't any one thing but rather a combination of everything, really – it's just so massively different to the Ginetta in every respect.”
After settling himself into his new 'office' throughout the morning, Ingram swiftly demonstrated that he was not fazed in the slightest and began to post some very respectable lap times indeed after lunch, working his way down to a mere half-a-second shy of Jordan's benchmark come the end of the day – an effort that would have put him, incredibly, 16th on the grid during the BTCC's visit to Silverstone back in August, and one that he set in significantly cooler and therefore theoretically slower conditions.
“The Vectra really is so much fun to drive,” he enthused. “I wanted to stay out there all day! When they gave me the 'IN' board, my heart just sank! Honda Racing were there as well, and it was a surreal feeling to be going round Silverstone in a touring car and to then look in the mirror and see two-time BTCC Champion Matt Neal
chasing me – that was pretty cool.
“It was a just an awesome, mega day – one of the best days of my life – and I'm so grateful to Ginetta owner Lawrence Tomlinson, Eurotech and Pirtek, because to be given such a special opportunity as this showed great belief in me. It was a dream come true, and I loved every minute of it – and driving a touring car is definitely something I could get used to! Hopefully, I might have been able to turn a few heads, too...”
Jordan Jnr – who raced the venerable Vectra, a BTCC favourite for well over a decade in its various guises, to a brace of victories this year at Croft and Brands Hatch – admitted that he was left somewhat awestruck afterwards by his young protégé's self-assured performance.
“Tom did a sterling job, much better than I'd thought he would get on,” he enthused. “He's really enthusiastic and he seems very intelligent with a very switched-on approach – and he was quick, as well! I don't really want him to get too much quicker, or he will be after my drive! My dad was very, very impressed by Tom, and he isn't impressed easily!