George Gamble holds a healthy 21 point lead in the 2011 Ginetta Junior Winter Series standings after the opening day of action at Snetterton in Norfolk, the TJ Motorsport driver winning round two, Saturday, 5th November, having finished runner-up to Charlie Robertson in race one.
HHC Motorsport’s Robertson, Vice-Champion of the main series this year, utterly dominated the wet qualifying session by taking pole position for both encounters well over a second clear. He got his campaign off to the perfect start in race one with a deserved victory but a non-finish in the second outing – believed to be the result of a gearbox failure – could have already ruined his title hopes.
Gamble didn’t have everything his own way when a bad tyre call in qualifying left a lot of hard work to do in the races, starting from seventh and fifth on the grid respectively. Fired up to get back at the front, the 15-year-old performed brilliantly and secured bonus points for the fastest lap in each race.
“I’m really happy to have won, it’s fantastic for the team as well as it’s their local track”, said Gamble after round two, “We tried different tyres in qualifying and they didn’t work, that made things much harder. In the first race I was struggling with vision, every time I got close to Charlie it was really bad. There was minimal spray but there was a lot of muck on the track from people going wide.
“The second race result has helped me a lot in the championship, everyone else that was on the podium in the first race wasn’t for the second so that’s good for us. We’ve just got to hope and pray we can have a couple of good results tomorrow.”
At the start of round one, Robertson made a decent getaway from pole position but FML driver Jake Giddings managed to nose ahead on the run into Riches where he took the lead and tried to pull away as Robertson came under pressure from Niall Murray at the hairpin.
Ollie Chadwick held fourth place ahead of Declan Jones but the latter was soon deposed by Gamble who made a great getaway from seventh on the grid. Gamble then passed Chadwick to take fourth at Coram with a fantastic move.
Into lap two, Giddings headed Robertson but the 14-year-old was determined to get past for the lead and he managed it at the exit of the infield, Williams, before starting to pull away. Third placed Murray, struggling with two brand new wet-weather tyres on the rear of his car, was easy prey for Gamble and he moved up into the rostrum placings with a great move at Oggies.
While Robertson cemented his lead, Gamble closed in on Giddings and it would only be a matter of time before the positions changed – at the Esses on lap three as it turned out. Gamble then punched in the fastest lap on the fourth tour as he pursued Robertson and although he closed to within a second his younger rival drove superbly to win the first race of the weekend.
“It was a really tough race, we got quite a good start but Giddings still managed to get in front of us”, said Robertson, “I caught him, passed him, and then saw George in my mirrors. He caught me and I was under so much pressure. I’m just really pleased I was able to hold him off for the win.”
Giddings held on to third as the lower order spread during the second half of the race, finishing well clear of Jones , Max Coates – the former privateer running with Ginetta Junior newcomer team MGR – and Chadwick. Oliver Basey-Fisher took seventh on his debut with Murray salvaging eighth despite his grip troubles, while William Palmer finished in ninth ahead of young rookie Guy Wenham.
In race two, on a slightly drier track, Robertson led away with a great start but Giddings struggled to get the power down after gambling to run dry-weather rubber. Palmer made a sensational start from ninth on the grid and initially saw off Murray for fifth through the infield before being caught-out by a spin for Chadwick on lap one at the Esses.
At the front, Robertson streaked away and by the end of the opening tour his lead was almost three seconds from Gamble, Coates and Murray with Basey-Fisher a superb fifth ahead of the recovering Chadwick. The leader initially set the pace but Gamble then posted the fastest lap on the third tour and then again on lap four to close in significantly.
As the lead battle got ever tighter, the intensity of the fight for third also increased with Coates under immense pressure from Murray. The DDD/Murray Motorsport driver went wide at the Bomb Hole on lap four which gave Coates breathing space but over the next few laps they closed up again.
Back at the front, Gamble grabbed the lead on the inside at Agostini on lap six and he was able to edge away from Robertson. In that order, both would have headed into Sunday’s racing tied on points but Robertson suffered a bitter blow on lap eight when gearbox problems forced him to pull off into retirement exiting Agostini.
Gamble, therefore, took a dominant win almost 20 seconds clear of the third placed scrap which was decided in favour of Murray on the final lap – a great pass coming out of Coram sealing the place. He did run wide on the grass shortly after but emerged at Senna Straight still ahead of Coates.
“In qualifying we put on one new wet tyre on the rear and I felt it worked much better than the older one, so for the first race we put two new wets on the rear but it was completely like driving on ice – it was terrible”, said Murray, “We put the older tyres back on for the second race and the pace was good, I caught Max and we had a good battle. Taking second on the last lap was great.”
Basey-Fisher took an excellent fourth place ahead of Giddings whose tyres did begin to come good towards the end of the race as the track dried more. Chadwick crossed the line in sixth, Palmer was seventh – having recovered after a spin on lap four – Wenham eighth and Jones ninth.
Qualifying for rounds three and four of the Ginetta Junior Winter Series will get underway at 09.35 tomorrow, Sunday, 6th November, with the opening race scheduled to start at 11.30 and the second encounter set to follow at 13.25 where the 2011 Winter Series champion will be crowned.
Provisional 2011 Ginetta Junior Winter Series Standings (after Rd2):1st George Gamble, 67pts; =2nd Jake Giddings & Max Coates, 46pts; 4th Niall Murray, 44pts; 5th Oliver Basey-Fisher, 38pts; 6th Charlie Robertson, 37pts