Tom Gamble races to opening round win in the European Le Mans Series at Circuit Paul Ricard Le Castellet, France
Tom Gamble wasted no time in returning to winning ways as United Autosports secured a first place team finish, reports Paul Horton.
Racing in the opening round of the 2020 European Le Mans Series at Circuit Paul Ricard Le Castellet in France, the 18-year-old fired his team into the lead, before stints from Wayne Boyd and Rob Wheldon ensured the win.
The Epperstone driver topped the tables in testing as he recording a 1m 52.099s lap of the 3.6 mile circuit in the new Ligier JS P320 LMP 3 car.
Further success followed in the final practice session and the team finished in P1 with a fastest lap time of 1m 47.949s.
Saturday’s qualifying continued in the same vein and with team-mate Boyd behind the wheel, first place was clinched to take top spot on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Gamble started proceedings from pole and led the team’s four-hour endurance challenge.
As the lights went out after the parade lap, Gamble made a dash that paid off and, after less than ten minutes into the race, he showed why he was the one to beat as he took a five second lead.
Gamble, who signed for the team before the coronavirus paused all motorsport action, continued his success and quickly tripled that lead to move 15 seconds clear of second place, before handing over to Wheldon one hour into the race.
Wheldon calmly took over the realms, but a session of the safety car and yellow flag laps held the team up momentarily as they dropped to second, before retaking first ahead of Boyd’s stint.
The drama continued with Boyd who dropped to second.
He fell six seconds behind with 33 minutes on the clock, but quickly retook the lead to take the chequered flag.
A jubilant Gamble said he enjoyed his first race with United Autosports.
“It was really good,” he said: “We were fast all weekend and we had one goal for the race.
“Wayne did a great job in qualifying which made my job of starting the race easier.
“Then in the race itself, we got off to a really good start and I managed to build a gap.
“We got unlucky with the safety car too, pitting before it came out.
“Rob had a great stint, then Wayne managed to put in a fantastic final stint to get us back into the lead and bring home the win.”