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Epperstone race ace Tom Gamble fights from back of the pack in penultimate round of the European Le Mans Series

Tom Gamble encountered a difficult weekend in the four hours of Spa Francomchamps in Belgium despite putting up the fastest average time on the track, reports Paul Horton.

Racing in the penultimate round of the European Le Mans Series in LMP2 Class, the Epperstone driver — who had taken podium slots in his last two races — faced an uphill battle as he finished eighth.

The free practice sessions on Friday and Saturday saw Gamble and his two United Autosports team-mates Phil Hanson and Jonathan Aberdein take top spot followed by second fastest on Spa’s 7.4km circuit.

TOM GAMBLE at Spa. Credit: Paul Horton Motorsport Photography
TOM GAMBLE at Spa. Credit: Paul Horton Motorsport Photography

The qualifying session was even more impressive as Gamble and co brought the #22 Oreca-Gibson home in P2, recording a top speed of 202.5kph.

Hanson started the race from the front row but was pushed wide heading into the first corner before being hit from behind.

The impact caused the car to spin and, despite some damage, the car continued from the back of the field.

As Gamble and the team looked on in horror from the pits, Hanson managed to get the car back to the garage to replace the punctured tyre.

He manage to return to the track but a lap later he was forced to return to the garage to replace a broken rear end — damage that was sustained in the first lap.

Once back on track he began making his way through the pack of 38 cars, albeit running a lap down on the rest of the grid.

During the middle section of the four-hour race, Hanson handed over to Aberdein.

He made good progress and handed over to Gamble level with the back of the pack.

Gamble, in inspired form, started picking off cars lap by lap to take the care home in eighth place.

During his spell at the wheel he recorded the fastest average lap time, finishing 0.073 seconds ahead of second.

“It was a difficult weekend,” said Gamble.

“The first corner was the turning point with Phil getting hit from behind and us dropping a lap.

“It was another race of what could have been and we were struggling to catch a break.

“Our pace looked good so fingers crossed we can finish the season on a high in Portimao.”

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