Optimum’s Gamble beats the spin to pace opening Donington practice

Optimum’s Gamble beats the spin to pace opening Donington practice

+ Provisional result: Free Practice Donington Park

Tom Gamble emerged at the head of a super-tight opening free practice session at Donington Park, bagging the top time for the same Optimum McLaren that had earlier paid an unfortunate visit to the gravel trap.

Charlie Robertson helped Century Motorsport to the top of a GT4 field where all 18 cars were within 1.2s and the top seven were all from different manufacturers.

The #27 McLaren shared by Gamble and Mark Radcliffe endured a tough start to the opening hour of running, with Radcliffe suffering a spin through the chicane and winding up beached, bringing a short halt to the session. Fortunately the car escaped any significant damage and returned to action just in time for Gamble to get stuck into the fight at the front, eventually pipping Barwell Motorsport’s #78 Lamborghini of Sandy Mitchell and Alex Martin by 0.010s.

The Orange Racing McLaren was first to set a benchmark time in the hands of Tom Roche, before top spot rotated between Ricky Collard (Barwell Lamborghini Huracan) and Phil Keen (2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG) before Mitchell snuck the Lamborghini ahead.

Mitchell’s best stood until the final third, when Gamble climbed aboard the McLaren and brought Mitchell’s advantage down to 0.002s before finally moving past with his final effort. 

Ian Loggie and Keen were third and led a train of Mercedes-AMG runners ahead of the sister 2 Seas Mercedes-AMG shared by Kevin Tse and Maximilian Goetz, Mike Price and Callum Macleod in the Greystone GT car and Sam and Richard Neary’s Team Abba Racing version. Rob and Ricky Collard were seventh for Barwell, with the J&S Racing Audi of Hugo Cook and Sacha Kakad, despite the pair missing the last half of the session with a technical issue. 

With the entire GT4 field separated by just over a second, the fight at the front was predictably tight, with Charlie Robertson getting the job done for Century by just 0.018s from Seb Morris in the Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG.

Matt Cowley led the early running in Paddock Motorsport’s Mercedes-AMG, before Dan Vaughan put the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK GR Supra he shares with Kavi Jundu out front. Next to take a turn up top was Zac Meakin in Optimum’s McLaren before Robertson shaved a further hundredth off to secure the result for him and team-mate Ravi Ramyead. 

Morris worked his way into second late on in the Mercedes-AMG he shares with Charles Dawson, with Jack Brown/Meakin third. Jundu and Vaughan’s Toyota was fourth, ahead of Jamie Day/Mikey Porter in one of the Forsetti Motorsport Aston Martins. The returning DTO team was sixth with its Ginetta for Stuart Middleton and Freddie Tomlinson, while Academy Motorsport’s Ford Mustang made it seven brands in the top seven thanks to Matt Nicoll-Jones and Will Moore.

The field is next in action for Pre-Qualifying at 12:15.