Ingram ready to withstand BTCC heat following expert advice from F1 star Webber

28-Apr-2014

Tom Ingram’s first outing as a British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) SuperStar saw the talented young High Wycombe ace put through his paces by former grand prix-winner Mark Webber – leaving him well-equipped to approach his forthcoming Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) debut in peak physical form.

The two-day fitness and nutrition workshop took place at the state-of-the-art Porsche Human Performance Centre at Silverstone, in the presence of the German sportscar manufacturer’s new endurance racing recruit Webber.

On the agenda were challenges as diverse as cycling, strength conditioning, yoga, resistance work, early-morning runs and athletic workouts – and as he revs up towards his BTCC bow in 2014 in Speedworks Motorsport’s Hughes-backed Toyota Avensis, Ingram was able to pick up some tips from a man who fought for the F1 title on no fewer than five occasions during the course of a stellar top flight career.

“We had a Q&A session with Mark, which allowed us to quiz him on his experiences and learn from him,” related the SKYCIG and Hansford Sensors-supported KX Akademy graduate and MSA Academy member. “He is somebody who has always taken his fitness very seriously, so his insights into the ‘dos and don’ts’ was invaluable. To have somebody like that on tap to glean information from was fantastic, and really underlined the advantages of being part of the BRDC SuperStars scheme.”

As a keen mountain-biker, Ingram has always enjoyed keeping himself in shape, but he admitted that some aspects of the activity were particularly eye-opening.

“I must confess, beforehand, I had always thought yoga was something old ladies do on a Tuesday morning,” joked the 20-year-old triple Ginetta Champion and ex-British Karting Champion. “I soon realised that I was very wrong! I was amazed by how difficult it was, and how good it is for your flexibility and strength.

“Since there were drivers present from single-seaters, touring cars and sportscars, the advice was tailored to our individual requirements, which was immensely beneficial. We were taught a lot of the theory and science behind fitness and diet, so that when we train, we understand what effect it’s actually having and so we know what we should be eating and when to ensure optimum recovery periods – because it’s vital that we are absolutely at the top of our game weekend-long.

“Non-motorsport fans tend to have a preconceived idea that racing drivers just climb into the car, press the pedal and turn the steering wheel, and that as such we’re not really athletes – but nothing could be further from the truth. For a start, the sheer heat level inside the cockpit over the duration of a race is something that’s very difficult for people to comprehend. I always compare it to sitting inside your house in mid-summer, wearing a winter coat, with the heating at flat-chat and the fire full-on – for half-an-hour!

“Then you’ve got the mental side, needing to be mindful of where all the other cars are around you, sizing up and executing overtaking manoeuvres, defending your position from the drivers behind and looking after your tyres. You’re constantly re-evaluating situations, analysing the track condition and paying attention to your lap times. You have to stay completely alert and focussed throughout, and physical fitness sharpens your mental reflexes, too.”

Ingram will need to have both in plentiful supply as he prepares to pitch himself into the cut-and-thrust, doorhandle-to-doorhandle action of the tremendously popular, ITV4 live-televised BTCC – a championship that is commonly regarded as the world’s premier and most fiercely-contested tin-top series. BRDC SuperStars Director Tim Harvey affirmed that those preparations have already got off to an encouraging start.

“The fitness training workshop was a great opportunity for Tom to learn not only from a top-level athlete like Mark, but also from his racing peers,” explained the 1992 BTCC Champion. “Everybody was able to discern where they were strong and in which areas they had room for improvement. Tom will face a lot of distractions over a BTCC weekend, which will demand total mental and physical concentration, but the Porsche programme got everybody into the right mindset for an excellent year ahead.”