Tom Ingram a up and coming driver won the first race of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this weekend. A new admission to the sport is Kelvin Fletcher of Emmerdale fame, aiming to achieve success in the drivers first season.
With the new British Touring Car Championship beginning over the weekend at Brands Hatch new comers and slight alterations to the race two grid format regulations for 2016 have been introduced. Alongside experienced drivers like Jason Plato and Colin Turkington, young talent may have an opportunity this season to scale heights, a new admission of Emmerdale star Kelvin Fletcher (Andy Sugden) may undoubtedly generate media and public attention to the sport.
Brands Hatch is track with origins in the 1940s, challenging because of its undulations and limited visibility on some corners is still considered one of the best tracks to race. The first corner Paddock Hill Bend is a sharp twisting off camber corner where traction might be precarious, a balancing of acceleration is pivotal to restrain the spinning of the car on this corner. Other memorable features of the track include Clark’s Corner, an unending ridge back to the finish line and Graham Hill bend. Staging Formula 1 races as far back as 1956, Brands Hatch has recently welcomed the World Touring Car Championship, superbikes, Formula 3 although the circuit is today mainly used for the British Touring Car Championship.
Named British Racing drivers’ club rising star in February 2011, the 17-year-old Tom Ingram joined past winners Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, to become a prospect for the future of racing. Starting his career at the tender age of 8 in karting, the driver progressed to race in the Ginetta junior championship in 2009 a support race for the BTCC, driving Ginetta G20s. A year later Tom won the championship racing in Ginetta G40s and subsequently won a days testing with the British Touring Car team; Pirtek, where the driver displayed real potential alongside seasoned professional drivers.
At Brands Hatch Tom achieved a pole position the first in his touring car career with a qualifying lap record of 47.990 seconds. Last year’s champion Gordon Sheddon came in second position with a lap time of 48.053 with the other Honda driven by Matt Neal qualifying third and a time of 48.101, with only 0.111 seconds splitting the 3 drivers. During the first race Ingram showed consummate composure in holding off the Honda teammates amid a safety car incident when Alex Martin spun off into the barriers trying to evade a collision with Hunter Abott. The crowd appreciated the efforts of the young driver as he crossed the line although Tom was far from able to repeat the feat in the second and third races.
The challenge Tom faced going into the second and third rounds may be explained by the introduction of success ballasts which adds more weight to the driver’s car who finished first and incrementally to other drivers depending on where the car finished. An implementation occurred in 2015 whereby weights were substantially increased on the other hand many drivers have appreciated the extra test in relation to tyre strategy, as weight places more pressure on the tyres possibly offering the sport a more absorbing spectacle.
Kelvin Fletcher in his first race in touring cars finished 27th in his Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze, 10 laps down, a challenging debut for the rookie. The driver may still find some form going into round two at Donington Park, using the experience from winning the Silverstone Classic Celebrity Challenge Race, Ginetta GT5 series and races in the Porsche Carrera cup and Porsche Supercup (an F1 support race). Still, Kelvin’s experience is modest and the driver may have to be a quick learner to move up in the rankings.
The 2016 BTCC may be an interesting one for fans, might Tom Ingram surprise and rise through the ranks? May Kelvin Fletcher turn his fortunes around? Another intriguing season awaits.
How may Tom Ingram perform in the next race at Donington?