Elite Motorsport’s Tom Gamble has taken over the lead of the Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway this weekend (26 / 27 August) as a first, second and third place finish nudged him ahead of former leader, Seb Priaulx (HHC). The best weekend of any 2017 driver for Daniel Harper (two wins and a second place) brings the Douglas Motorsport entrant right into the title fight with six races to go.
Harper was once again the man to beat in qualifying, taking his second pole position in a row with a 1:38.866s lap. Lining up alongside was Priaulx whilst Jordan Collard, Gamble and Harry King rounding out the top five. The third place marking Collard’s best qualifying of the season.
Race one saw Harper hang onto his lead off the line. There was a safety car as Grady, Foster and Linscott had a coming together at Yentwood. Racing got back underway on lap four – halfway through the race itself – and once again, Harper judged the restart perfectly.
Gamble meanwhile, put a move on his title rival Priaulx to snatch second on the first full racing lap, whilst Wood continued to power up the order – having started sixth – passing King to move into fourth. Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Smalley led the rookie class from lights-to-flag to secure a well-deserved victory after a great race with Del Sarte, and later with Wood and King.
Race two was a similarly well-behaved affair. Off the line, King got the lead, but by the time they reached Deene, Gamble was at the head of the pack, where he remained –untroubled – to the flag.
There was plenty of action behind over second. In the opening stages, it was a five car fight between King, Harper, Priaulx, Wood and Collard but soon Harper and Priaulx checked out at the head of the battle. It was ultimately Harper who claimed second, with Priaulx in third.
The battle for the rookie honours was just as exciting. Browning, Jewiss, Smalley and Canning swapped positions with almost every lap. The foursome provided some great racing, but ultimately it was Smalley who took his second rookie podium of the day, with Browning and Jewiss joining him on the podium. New boy Deene was the man of the moment on the opening lap of race two as he picked up six spots on the first tour. Although he finished the action in an eventual 16th place.
In the third and final race, Gamble held onto his pole position advantage off the line, but Priaulx found a way around Harper as King and Collard rounded out the top five. A few laps in and Gamble was 1.3s down the road, but once Harper eventually found a way past Priaulx, that gap soon evaporated.
As Harper hassled Gamble for the lead – which he claimed on lap eight – Priaulx caught the leading train, making for a closely fought final two laps, which Harper ultimately won from Gamble and Priaulx. Behind, after a superb scrap for fourth, King managed to hold off Collard as the pair claimed the final spots inside the top five.
There was a fantastic race between the rookies once again. A five car train squabbled over the class honours, with Smalley leading from Browning, Del Sarte, Jewiss and Canning in the early stages. As the laps ticked away, Browning got closer to the scholarship winner, before taking the class lead in the closing stages, when Smalley dropped to 11th.
Joining Browning – who claimed his maiden rookie class win in the process – on the podium was class leader Jewiss, who now sits fourth in the overall championship and Del Sarte, who has enjoyed one of his best weekends of the season.
The result now means the top three, Gamble, Priaulx and Harper are split by just 16 points as they head into the penultimate weekend of the season at Silverstone in three weeks’ time (16 / 17 September). Make sure you keep up to date with all the news in between via Ginetta.com