George Gamble won the first Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge race at Donington Park in dramatic fashion, moving to within touching distance of the title in the process.
His passage towards the championship winning post was eased by final corner contact between title rivals Dennis Strandberg and Ollie Chadwick on the exit of the final corner of the race. As both drivers righted themselves after spins to finish fourth and fifth Gamble stole through to win and move to within a single point of the 2014 crown.
The final corner contact which sent both drivers slewing across the track, though neither made contact with the barriers, was an unwelcome end to a race long battle between the top three in the championship.
A poor start pushed Chadwick from pole position back to third as Gamble took the lead with Gary Simms second. However, Chadwick, who had been the class of the field in qualifying, made his way back up the order, both he and Strandberg passing Gamble on lap five, as the battle for the lead briefly became a five-way affair with Luca Hirst (unfortunately bound for retirement) squeezing past Simms and into fourth.
Hirst’s exit helped to fracture the leading group, Simms delayed as Sennan Fielding – on his return to Ginetta racing – took advantage to take fourth and begin pressuring Gamble for the final podium spot. Their developing battle allowed Chadwick and Strandberg to edge slightly away though they were, themselves, fighting for position.
A move on the penultimate lap of the race gave Strandberg the lead for the first time in the race, a result which would have kept the championship battle alive into the two races on Sunday. However, as he searched for a way past at the last opportunity the leaders made contact allowing Gamble to win from Fielding and Sims.
Nick Firth completed the top half dozen.
Alex Preston won the G20 class from pole position with Brian Murphy and Stuart Pearson completing the class podium, third place enough for Pearson to clinch the class championship.