George Gamble made a very happy return to racing in a Ginetta G40 with victory in an action-packed opening Protyre Ginetta GT5 Challenge race at Donington.
Gamble calmly made his way through the front-runners to grab the win, while Oli Basey-Fisher lost his pole position to championship rival Brad Bailey heading into the first corner after a slow getaway.
He quickly recovered the lead exiting Redgate before Jake Giddings also dispatched the points leader two corners later, Giddings quickly making a move inside Basey-Fisher for the lead at McLeans.
Bailey’s race went from from bad to worse as and attack from Gamble into the Melbourne hairpin dropped the championship leader three more spots, where his messy attempt to reclaim a place from Luke Davenport at the final corner ended in contact and his early retirement.
“It’s certainly not good for the championship that’s for sure”, said a disconsolate Bailey who now lies 27 points behind Basey-Fisher with two races remaining, “but we’ll give it a go.”
This left Giddings leading the way from Basey-Fisher and Gamble, before the latter went on the attack and stole second spot from fellow former Ginetta Junior driver Basey-Fisher on lap two.
A lap later the Total Control Racing driver was in the lead after repeating the overtake under braking for the penultimate hairpin on team-mate Giddings, before the second-placed man crashed his G40 out of the race exiting Old Hairpin.
The safety car was deployed, where another retiree added himself to the last in the form of Davenport, parking his Reflex Racing car at the Esses.
On the restart, Gamble cruised to victory by a 2.242s cushion over a tight tussle for the remaining podium positions, Basey-Fisher surviving a brush with team-mate Will Burns as the Academy Motorsport pair rubbed doors at the penultimate hairpin.
Basey-Fisher moved into the lead of the championship by four points over team-mate Burns who rounded out the podium, helped by a big spin for the charging Swedish driver Dennis Strandberg on the final lap at Craner Curves, sending Ben Hyland and Callum Pointon to the grass in avoidance.
Fourth was Gary Duckman‘s reward for evading the chaos ahead of him, Tor McIlroy rounding out the top five for Optimum Motorsport. A superb recovery drive from Ben Constanduros netted him sixth place having started down in 17th after an off in qualifying.
Seventh went to Matt Flowers, the top 10 rounded out by Stephane Romecki, Mark Davenport and G20 class winner Stuart Pearson, Romecki another star from the race having fought his way through from a lowly 28th place on the grid.
Pearson recovered from sixth in the G20 class to the lead by the halfway stage, the already crowned Optimum Motorsport driver joined on the class podium by Nick Zapolski and Mark De Spong.