After 23 races, Tom Gamble heads into the final round of the Ginetta Junior championship with a 42 points advantage to former team-mate Sebastian Priaulx.
Like Priaulx, Gamble started his second season in the championship with JHR Developments and overcame off track drama to consistently finish at the sharp end of the field. He secured 16 podiums, including eight wins.
Gamble kicked off his title fight with a challenge for the win in the opening race at Brands Hatch, but he collided with Priaulx and both were sent into a spin. Gamble failed to take the chequered flag, retiring from the race.
He tried to bounce back in race two, storming past Priaulx into the lead on the opening lap. He fell back into second the following lap, where he stayed for the remainder of the race.
Gamble claimed a pair of victories at Donington Park to take the early championship lead. He swept past pole-sitter Dan Harper after a safety car in race one to snatch the lead and take his first Ginetta Junior win. He could only manage third in race two but, after a four-way battle in race three, took his second win of the season five seconds ahead of Harper.
The top results continued at Thruxton. He spent the opening race battling at the sharp end of the field, swapping the lead with Harry King, Priaulx, and Harper. Harper eventually claimed the win, but was handed a five-second track limits penalty, promoting Gamble to the top step.
Another post-race penalty awarded Gamble his fourth win of the season. He spent race two at Thruxton battling with Priaulx for the race win. It was his team-mate who crossed the line first, but Priaulx was later excluded from the meeting, promoting Gamble to first, extending his lead at the top of the championship.
A difficult weekend at Oulton Park cut the lead to just 10 points. Gamble finished fifth in race one after spending most of the race trying to pass King. He collided with Harper in race two and dropped down the order, eventually recovering to 11th.
Gamble finished fourth in the opening race at Croft before taking third in race two. He was running second, behind Priaulx in the final race when a safety car bunched up the field. It put Gamble right on his team-mate’s tail, but he waited until the penultimate lap of the race to make a decisive move for the lead. He passed Priaulx, taking the win the following lap.
The success put him 52 points ahead of the closest rival in the championship fight, but the lead wouldn’t last until Snetterton the following month.
JHR had appealed the Thruxton penalty that excluded Priaulx and two of his team-mates from the round. The MSA National Court decided with the team, reinstating the points Priaulx had lost. It put him 16 points ahead of Gamble in the title fight.
It didn’t slow Gamble down and, after the summer break, he started the second part of the season battling with multiple drivers at the sharp end of the field in the opening race at Snetterton. He finished sixth, but was promoted to fifth when King was handed a track limits penalty.
Gamble lead race two early, but was dropped down the order after running wide. He fell to fourth but recovered to second before a spin on the penultimate lap lost him more positions. He finished seventh, but could challenge at the front of the order again in race three, when he finished third.
Fourth and third place finishes at Knockhill allowed Gamble to close the gap just three points behind soon to be ex-team-mate Priaulx.
The appeal which lost Gamble the championship lead before the summer break caused more problems behind the scenes. Ginetta decided to suspend JHR Developments as it investigated the team. It meant Gamble, as well as Priaulx and their team-mates, would need to find a new team for the final three rounds of the championship.
Gamble switched to Elite Motorsport ahead of the Rockingham round. His results at the Northamptonshire track proved the move to be a good decision.
After taking third in race one, Gamble retook the championship lead with a dominant race two victory. He snatched the lead on the opening lap and sped away from the rest of the field to take the win by more than two seconds.
He aimed to repeat the feat in race three and built up a small lead whilst Harper and Priaulx battled for second. Harper quickly closed the gap after shaking off Priaulx and swept past the pole-sitter three laps into the race. Gamble followed him home to take second, putting him seven points ahead of Priaulx as they headed to the penultimate round of the championship.
Gamble extended the lead with a historic hat-trick at Silverstone. The Elite Motorsport racer won a four-way battle for the race lead in the opening laps and maintained the lead until the chequered flag.
King and Priaulx joined Gamble in the fight for the win in race two but the championship leader started to edge away from the pair midway through the race. He finished two seconds ahead of Harper to take his seventh win of the season.
There was no battle for the lead in the final race of the weekend. Gamble pulled away from pole and was left unchallenged for the entire the race.
Gamble now heads to Brands Hatch 42 points ahead of Priaulx, 46 points ahead when dropped scored are considered, and eight wins to Priaulx’s six.