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British Touring Car Championship maiden win for George Gamble at Knockhill circuit

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Racer George Gamble had the best race of his motorsport career at Knockhill Circuit, writes Paul Horton.

The 26 year old stormed the last race, taking his maiden British Touring Car Championship series victory as well as bringing home silverware for the Independent Drivers Trophy and also the Jack Sears Trophy from all three races of the weekend.

Gamble, of Epperstone, couldn’t have wished for a better weekend at the Scottish circuit — things got better every time he climbed into the Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport team BMW 330 e M Sports touring car.

George Gamble going the distance. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394327)
George Gamble going the distance. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394327)

Both Gamble and team mate Adam Morgan arrived in Scotland hoping for a better weekend after the BTCC mid-season break from racing and after the last two rounds at Croft and Oulton Park didn’t come to fruition, with bad luck encountered for them in most of the races.

It was the first time Gamble had raced at the circuit since his Porsche Carrera GB Cup days back in 2019, he knew the weekend would be hard but the advantage for both of the Ciceley boys was that Knockhill was a rear wheel drive circuit, so the Beamers had an advantage. The only disadvantage being the rear tyres taking slightly longer to warm to racing temperatures.

Saturday’s two free practice sessions were good for both Gamble and team-mate Adam Morgan, Gamble taking 9th fastest on the 1.2669 mile tarmac and Morgan taking 20th place.

George Gamble enjoyed his maiden victory. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394329)
George Gamble enjoyed his maiden victory. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394329)

Gamble was topping speeds of around 112mph on parts of the circuit and finished only 2.8 seconds off number one slot taken by Árón Taylor-Smith in his Cupra Leon.

Both Gamble and Morgan were the fastest independent drivers during the session.

Free practice 2 saw Gamble take 8th spot and Morgan third fastest in the session, both completing 31 laps. The Toyota Corolla GR Sport of Ricky Collard taking top spot.

Gamble was on it from the start of qualifying and had a great session that saw him take fastest times on laps 2, 3, 5 and 6. Near the end of the session a red flag was shown due to a car going off. An extra five minutes were added to the session and when it resumed Gamble flew, taking advantage of the extra minutes.

George Gamble and company on the the podium. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394333)
George Gamble and company on the the podium. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394333)

Gamble finish sixth fastest and only 0.386 seconds off pole sitter Jake Hill.

Team mate Adam Morgan put his BMW into fourth slot but had to start at the back of the grid after a throttle body problem on the parade lap.

As the lights went out Gamble had a good start but before the end of lap one Rory Butcher was hot on the bumper of Gamble pushing him to make a mistake and get past. Gamble kept his cool and defended the situation well, keeping Butcher’s Toyota Corolla GR Sport behind.

At the same time Gamble was putting pressure on Stephen Jelly’s BMW who was in front, by the end of lap 4 Butcher had been pushed out and it was Tom Ingram’s turn to put the pressure on Gamble from the rear. Gamble was still having none of it and was defending every move being made on him.

George Gamble celebrating. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394335)
George Gamble celebrating. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394335)

On lap 9 Gamble ran wide slightly tipping the gravel but recovered the BMW well and still retaining 5th spot, by lap 14 Gamble was getting faster and putting even more pressure on Jelly, but still couldn’t find the right place to outrun him.

By lap 22 Gamble was retaining P5, and topping speeds of around 116mph on parts of the track whilst Team mate Morgan had blasted his way from P29, back of the pack into P14.

By the chequered flag Gamble was in fifth spot, having fended off opposition from start to finish, which saw him take the Independent Drivers Trophy for being best placed in the race.

He also recorded three fastest lap times on laps 2,3 and 5.

George Gamble with trophy. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394337)
George Gamble with trophy. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394337)

In the second race of the day, Gamble had a good start, but was not quick enough to keep Tom Ingram from passing him.

Before the end of lap one, the safety car had been deployed for a short two lap period after the Cupra Leon of Will Powell had come to a halt in an unsafe position at the Chicane .

But on lap six Ingram made a mistake running wide, which dropped him down to ninth.

By lap 9 Gamble had used 3 laps of his 17 laps allocated hybrid power to give him some extra power. On lap 11 a cat and mouse session started between Gamble and Butcher, Gamble making a move on Butcher to gain a place and Butcher taking the place back. There was some tense bumper to bumper action but Gamble was still on it.

By lap 19 Gamble was still in P9, using more of his hybrid power helped him fly past Dan Cammish into 8th spot.

By the end of the race he had moved back up to seventh Gamble was rapid and ready to pounce, on lap 21 a great move by Gamble saw him take P7 overtaking Jelly. Gamble was not giving up, he was on the back bumper of Butcher, running out of his hybrid power didn’t help that saw him settle for a 7th spot finish in a very well fought battle and again to take a second best placed independent driver trophy of the weekend.

Gamble was rapid from start to finish, and was the fastest independent driver in the race, taking fastest on lap 13 with a time of 51.786 seconds and a speed of 88.07 mph.

Race three was a random reverse grid draw, and Nineties BTCC legend John Cleland drew Gamble out first, putting him on pole position for the last race of the day.

It was the first time Gamble had got a pole position in the BTCC.

Gambles nerves had set in, but once the lights went out, it was go, go, go for Gamble, he launched the BMW off the grid and the master was at what he did best.

It was a fantastic start for Gamble as he made a clean getaway from his first-ever front-row starting position in touring cars, opening a gap of just over three tenths of a second over Toyota’s Rory Butcher in the early laps and resisted pressure from Rory Butcher in the Toyota.

By lap 3 Butcher was still pushing hard on the back of Gamble as they went into Chicane. Again gamble was having none of it and was putting a great fight on.

Butcher’s charge for the win began to fade from around the fifth lap onwards, as Gamble pulled clear to almost a second whilst Turkington drew closer to Butcher.

Gamble was taking advantage of the hybrid power button to boost his power when he needed it, by lap 10 Gamble had a 1.218 second lead over Butcher.

Gamble kept his cool, it was an open circuit ahead, 6 laps later his lead had increased to 1.382 seconds over Butcher who was still clinging onto second spot.

By lap 20 Gamble had nearly doubled the lead to 3.147 seconds and was absolutely flying.

George Gamble enjoyed success at the Knockhill circuit. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394331)
George Gamble enjoyed success at the Knockhill circuit. Photo: Jacob Ebrey (58394331)

On lap 22 Butcher made a mistake to let both Jake Hill and Colin Turkington through, Gamble had two different cars in his rear mirrors to contend with, but the kafuffle had given him a lead of 4.805 seconds.

He took a lights to flag top spot and his maiden British Touring Car Championship win by the biggest winning margin of 2022 so far of 4.332 seconds on Hill.

A jubilant and emotional Gamble said after the race: “Unbelievable! I’ve not raced for a couple of years, and it’s been such a journey to get back racing. I was so emotional on the in lap. This is something I’ve dreamed of since I was 14 in Ginetta Juniors, to win a race in the BTCC.

“I just can’t thank everyone involved enough. The team, the sponsors, everyone that made this happen. I really wouldn’t be standing here without you.

“It’s such a feeling that was! To lead lights to flag. The times that we were putting in were consistent and we built a gap and managed that. It was just a picture-perfect race, I can’t believe it.”

“I think up to the last lap I was a bit cautious, I could feel the tyres going and the brakes and I didn’t want to make a silly error. But if you were to picture your first race win, that’s exactly how you’d want it and what a feeling, I can’t believe it.

“We opened at Donington Park with a podium and just had a couple of rounds with bad luck, through no fault of anyone’s, but all day we’ve been strong. We’ve got two independent wins, a fifth and a seventh and then an overall win, Jack Sears and Independents’ in the last race so I’ve got three trophies so it’s unbelievable.”

Gamble retains his second place standing in the Jack Sears Trophy and third in the Independent Drivers’ standings and twelfth in the series.

Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport are sixth in the Teams’ Championship and second in the Independent Teams’ standings.

The next races in the British Touring Car Championship will be at Snetterton in Norfolk on August 13-14.

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