LOUIE CAPOZZOLI OPENS 2022 ACCOUNT IN THRUXTON THRILLER
Louie Capozzoli emerged on top of a frantic race long battle at the front of the field to grab his first win of the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Trophy season in race two at Thruxton.
Capozzoli had started the race from the front row of the grid alongside Nelson King, with the latter seeking to extend his winning run in the series to five after grabbing victory in race one.
King was able to hold his lead at the start of the race and quickly established a slender lead as the gaggle of cars behind diced for second spot, with Capozzoli holding onto his place ahead of Lee Pearce – who managed to jump up from sixth on the grid to hold third.
Matt Hammond, podium finisher in race one, was amongst those to lose out as he dropped back to ninth whilst Jack Byrne failed to get away off the line from 14th and would slip to the rear of the field.
Within a matter of laps, King’s advantage at the front had been eradicated as the and by lap five, the fight for first was a five car affair with Capozzoli, Alfie Glenie, Lee Pearce and Nicky Taylor all part of the train.
Glenie’s charge was particularly impressive from ninth on the grid and when Capozzoli tried to make a move on King for the lead going into the final chicane on lap six, he nipped ahead into second – with Capozzoli dropping to the back of the train when he lost momentum on the exit of the corner.
As a recovering Hammond then joined the battle, Glenie moved to the front of the pack when he was finally able to get ahead of King on the run up Woodham Hill to lead.
Glenie, who set the lap record at the circuit last season, then established a slender lead before being reeled back in by the pack, which was now headed by Capozzoli after more changes in position at the chicane.
Capozzoli hit the front on the run to the chicane on lap eleven and despite the best efforts of Glenie across the final two laps, which saw the pair briefly swap places once again, the AReeve driver held on for his first victory of the campaign.
“It was a really chaotic race and it was changing all the time,” he said. “You could see at the end what it meant to the team, and also for me to get a first win of the season and a first with the team.
“Alfie put up a big fight and he drove really well, but I’ve got to give credit to the team at AReeve and to my chief mechanic Aidy for their efforts as it all paid off.”
Glenie’s run to second marked the first time that he had made it onto the MINI CHALLENGE podium having gone close last year with Lee Pearce grabbing third on the final lap when he nipped ahead of King at the final corner.
Glenie would also set the fastest lap of the race to leave him scoring as many points as winner Capozzoli.
“I’m pleased to get a podium for the team; it’s been a long time coming,” Glenie said. “To go from P9 to lead the race was a challenge and we could have got the win but it’s tough round here to hold on when you are at the front.
“We’ve got another chance tomorrow and I know we have the car, so it should be a good one.”
King’s fourth place allowed him to retain his championship lead, with the top six in the race being completed by Alex Solley and Charlie Mann – both of whom towed their way up to the podium battle in the second half of the race.
Mann will now start the reverse grid final race on Sunday from pole thanks to the reverse grid draw.
Nicky Taylor took seventh ahead of Hammond, with Paul Manning and Nathan Edwards rounding out the top ten.
Despite his issue at the start, Byrne came through the pack to twelfth to snare the rookie win.
“I was waiting for the five second board on the grid but I missed it and then suddenly the lights came on and I just thought ‘oh no’,” he said. “I dropped to the back and just had to get my head down and push hard to get back up the order.
“It wasn’t the worst place to make a mistake because as least I could recover and now hopefully I can fight for the top ten tomorrow, which was the goal for the weekend.”
The result of the race remains provisional pending overnight investigations.