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Mixed weekend for McLaren factory racing driver Tom Gamble in the British round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe at Brands Hatch

McLaren factory racing driver Tom Gamble had a weekend of mixed emotions in the British round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Sprint Cup at Brands Hatch, writes Paul Horton.

Racing with the Northamptonshire based Garage 59 Team, Gamble and his teammate Benjamin Goethe took fourth and sixth positions respectively in the Pro Cup category.

The race would see them racing against the now well-seasoned four-wheel racer, but more well known on two wheels, No. 46 Team WRT BMW of Valentino Rossi.

Photo: Fanatec GT World / Garage 59
Photo: Fanatec GT World / Garage 59

Saturday would be a busy day for the endurance racing duo, but they were straight on it during the free practice session that saw Goethe fifth fastest. They finished the session only 0.183 seconds off top spot.

Next up was the pre-qualifying session. Gamble, of Epperstone, was in the seat and flying, taking position two with a time of 1.23.518s around the 2.433- mile Kent circuit.

Officials carried out a Balance of Performance change ahead of qualifying, with weight changes affecting six manufacturers.

Photo: Fanatec GT World / Garage 59
Photo: Fanatec GT World / Garage 59

Ferrari was the sole brand to gain weight, being given ten extra kilograms. Meanwhile, Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, and Porsche all had their minimum weight reduced by the same amount.

The pairs McLaren were not given any reductions or increases, the same applied to the Mercedes-AMG cars too.

Qualifying one saw Gamble in charge to take fourth place, again a great session. Again, the session was so close, with a gap of only 0.132 seconds off top of the timing sheets.

Qualifying two was a similar affair. Goethe took fourth with a time of 1:22.900 and missing out by a 0.330 second shortfall.

Gamble said after qualifying: “We were slightly disappointed as the car had potential for more, but still a strong position to start the race.”

Sunday saw two endurance races, each with a duration of one hour with a pit window for driver changes to take place.

Tom Gamble. Photo: Fanatec GT World / Garage 59
Tom Gamble. Photo: Fanatec GT World / Garage 59

Race one saw Gamble line up on the second row. As the lights went out on the pace car Gamble was off like a rocket, but he was fired off on to the grass on lap one by the #69 Ferrari of Vermeulen.

It was all hands on deck as Gamble recovered the McLaren and after some checks and work on the car, he was back out putting him back into 14th.

Gamble fought back, putting the car back into the points for Goethe to finish the stint and take fourth overall, the pair completing 39 laps and only 2.7 seconds off number one slot and narrowly missing out on the podium.

Race Two was another second row start for Goethe to start proceedings. It was a good start again for the team and saw Goethe make progress until lap 17 when a small delay on the pitstop cost them time and frustration for Gamble waiting there to get on with the job.

The best action during this phase of the race was the battle for sixth place led by Valentino Rossi after a quick turnaround by his team. Gamble was in a hurry to recover ground, but Rossi made him work for the position over several laps.

Once Gamble had completed the pass, he worked the McLaren hard to make up lost time that saw him bring it home in sixth spot.

After, Gamble said: “The car had strong pace all weekend but getting hit off in race one and a delay in the pitstop in race two hindered our chances of a podium.”

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