VCARS Tom Sharp travels to the 2.1 mile Croft Circuit at Northallerton, North Yorkshire this weekend for Round Five of The Ginetta GT SuperCup 2012.
After four rounds, the results maintain Sharp’s lead at the top of the Ginetta GT SuperCup standings. The 20-year old driver is on 358 points, 91 clear of second placed Tom Ingram and 105 clear of third placed veteran Carl Breeze. VCARS.co.uk caught up with Tom to talk about his mixed feelings ahead of the race and get his thoughts on the Ginetta season so far.
VCARS: You’re racing at Croft on Sunday, how are you feeling about taking to the track and about the way the season is shaping up?
TS: “While I’m looking forward to it, I’ve got mixed memories of Croft. Two years ago, it was home to my first Championship win. However, it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever endured – I led from the front for most of the race and toward the end was passed by Stephan Hodgetts. I managed to get back ahead of him and ran out winner – it was brilliant to secure my first win on the Ginetta programme.
Last year was a disaster. In qualifying, I was penalised for a tyre change and started at the back of the grid. In the race, I drove quite aggressively and managed to get up to third. But, because of focussing on getting through the field, I missed another penalty. I had three laps to come and drive through the pits. It wasn’t until the sixth lap that I saw the flag and eventually reached the pits shortly after. I was allowed to re-join the race but by that time I was toward the back of the field again! Nightmare, it cost me nine Championship Points and possible even the Ginetta title. To compound matters, I crashed in the second race. So I’ve had a pretty mixed experience at Croft to say the least.
In terms of the challenge that Croft poses, much like the last time out, at Oulton Park, Croft is a pretty narrow track so passing is at a premium and qualification on the front grid is really important. There are more spots to pass on than Oulton but you’ve got to really plan ahead.
Elsewhere, the best part about Croft is that there are often decent crowds. While I’m racing I’m totally focussed on what’s going on on-track, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the atmosphere before and after.”
VCARS: You’ve got a comfortable lead at the top of the Ginetta SuperCup standings, but who do you think will pose the main threat over the remaining rounds?
TS: “Well, clearly, Tom Ingram is the main threat. Tom is the only driver, other than myself, to have won races this season so he’s showed he poses a threat. Carl Breeze has been around the block so many times that it’s impossible to ignore his challenge. Also, I think if you’re looking for an up and coming driver who might make inroads into the rests of the field, Josh Wakefield began the season really well and is a really talented young driver.”
VCARS: Away from Ginetta, you’ve just returned from your first trip to Le Mans, how was that?
TS: “Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to visiting Le Mans since I was a little boy and, to be honest, it was everything I’d hoped it would be. I’ve just never seen so many people in one place before – the atmosphere was incredible. It’s steeled my appetite to race there one day.”
VCARS: Out of interest, you’re around cars a lot, what do you drive?
TS: “I’ve got a Land Rover Defender that used to belong to my dad. If I could chose a car to drive right now, I’d plump for a Fiesta ST. I know it’s probably a surprising response for a racing driver but I’m trying to be practical and realistic on what I could afford. If money was no object? A Ferrari F40 – well, we can all dream.”
VCARS: Good luck this weekend Tom, we’re dreaming of a great ride on your behalf. We’ll be rooting for you.
Catch all the action from Round Five of the Ginetta SuperCup from Croft Circuit Sunday 24th June on ITV4 from 11am until 6pm.