James Dorlin made a dramatic debut on the BTCC support-race package, while Steven Hunter was more than happy with JHR Developments’ performance in the season’s opening rounds at Brands Hatch.
Barnsley 17 year-old Dorlin, won the 2016 Michelin Clio Cup series with nine wins, and has now moved up to the latest spec Renault Clio Cup race cars, and competing in front of much larger crowds than previously, “it’s quite a step up and on a totally different scale to what I’m used to!”.
In Brands Hatch’s round 1 of the Renault UK Clio Cup Dorlin qualified 16th on the grid, but soon showed the opposition of what he is capable in the race.
Making a storming start, in a wet race he overtook ten cars on the opening lap alone; Dorlin took 4th place at the flag, only 0.2 seconds shy of a podium finish and setting race fastest lap in his debut race!
In a frustrating round 2 he was unable to repeat the feat, finishing in 16th, but nevertheless he lies 2nd in the Graduates Cup for young, first-year drivers, and 9th in the overall table.
Steven Hunter left Brands Hatch beaming a contented smile of satisfaction with two championships being led by his JHR Developments team’s young drivers.
Uniquely, the Dronfield-based team has a pair of brothers competing in 2017.
Elder brother, George Gamble leads JHR’s challenge in the Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup championship and took pole-position with a 0.127 second advantage.
Totally, dominant in the opening round 1, Gamble held position at the head of the field, where he remained unchallenged taking a lights-to-flag victory, with the fastest lap, by 2.843 seconds at the end.
According to Hunter, Gamble should have taken the spoils in round 2 also, had he not been tapped into a spin, dropping him to the back of the field. Nevertheless, he managed to power himself through the pack, to salvage a 10th-placed finish.
Starting from 8th on the grid, it seemed unlikely that Gamble would see the podium in round 3, however Gamble made the most of a Safety Car intervention to climb up to 5th.
Now in the middle of a nine-car fight for the win, Gamble took no prisoners while in a real charge to soon pick off positions to be in 2nd place at half-distance.
Another Safety Car closed up the leaders for a quick dash to the flag as an invincible Gamble begin to close in on leader Jack Mitchell, and then mounted a successful surprise attack at Paddock Hill Bend with two laps to go.
“I don’t think I’ll forget that race, as it was a close thing and I didn’t think I’d be able to win from 8th on the grid. At Paddock I just got him – a late move, and good on the brakes at the last, last minute I just dashed down, I don’t think he expected it and I was through into the lead. I am over the moon to come away with two wins and leading the Championship!”
Gamble has a handy 6 points lead in the series with 7 more meetings to go.
His teammate, Chesterfield’s Seb Perez is 5th in the points table having graduated from the Ginetta Junior championship to the SuperCup, according to Hunter, the 27 year-old did an “exceptionally good job” controlling the Ginetta G55’s power and downforce complications finishing in 6th, 8th and 5th places.
Tom Gamble, the younger of the brothers, together with JHR’s 2016 super Rookie Seb Priaulx, locked-out the front row in qualifying for the two 2017 Simpson Race Products Ginetta Junior Championship races.
The pair dominated both races and round 1 would have been a JHR 1-2-3 as rookie Harry Dyson cleaned-up setting the fastest lap, closing on to the dicing Gamble and Priaulx in the final laps.
Unfortunately, both Gamble and Priaulx were on the limits of their tyre’s grip into the final corner and the pair collided as Dyson swept through for a maiden victory, Gamble in the gravel as Priaulx recovered to 4th at the flag.
“It was just one of those things: only a very slight touch (of bodywork)”, Hunter explained, “but it spun them both around so only a win for Harry Dyson”.
It was a Rookie Cup JHR 1-2-3 in round 1 as Dyson was followed home by Adam Smalley and Matt Luff, complemented by a 1-2 in round 2.
This was a less eventful race, but still with Priaulx and Gamble leading the field, where Priaulx took both the win and fastest lap comfortably over 3 seconds ahead of Gamble.
“A, pair of exceptionally good drives from Priaulx and Gamble”, a delighted Hunter remarked with race result being just what he expected, “after the outstanding speed they showed in our winter testing efforts in Spain, it is good to see it come to fruition on the track and I was pleasantly relieved at the pace they showed in the races”.
It is a JHR top-2 in the Ginetta Junior championship, headed by Priaulx, but only 5 points ahead of the 2017 super-rookie, Dyson who leads the Rookie Cup too.
Billy Monger gave JHR, “three steady solid races results” in F4, according to Hunter, competing in the limited rounds Challenge class of the category.
In the opening round, after starting 9th, Monger set the fastest lap working his way to a 6th-place finish.
A 3rd-place podium finish to round 2 together with 7th in round 3 gave Monger a clean sweep of Challenge class wins giving him the category lead.
His JHR teammate, Mexican youngster, Manuel Sulaiman impressed Hunter especially how much he has come on, scoring top-10 finishes in two out of the three races in a 17 car field.