Alex Denning made it four wins for the season after a post-race penalty prevented Sam Weller from converting pole into victory in the first Quaife MINI CHALLENGE race of the weekend at Silverstone.

Weller had qualified on pole to secure six valuable bonus points, heading a Hybrid Tune 1-2 on the grid for the opening race.

However, an off for debutant Matthew George on the green flag lap saw the start of the race delayed and left Weller to line up alone on the front row – with the championship leader retaining the lead at the start ahead of Alex Denning and Ronan Pearson.

Denning managed to nip ahead at Brooklands on the second lap to grab the lead, with the pair circulating together until Weller saw the chance to get back ahead at Luffield – mindful of the fact that Pearson and Jason Lockwood were running close behind.

Once back in front, Weller was able to keep his rival at bay to grab what appeared to be a fourth win of the campaign to extend his lead at the top.

However, post race investigations saw Weller handed a one second penalty for gaining an unfair advantage when making the move to reclaim the lead – meaning Denning was instead promoted back into first place.

Behind the top two, the fight between the two EXCELR8 cars was decided in favour of Lockwood – who nipped ahead of Pearson shortly after the lead change to grab the final place on the podium.

With Jack Mitchell only able to make his way up to sixth place behind Lewis Brown having started back in tenth, Lockwood has now moved up into second place in the championship standings.

“The battle at the front was quite calm, but it was drivers going off elsewhere that caused problems as there were cars all over the place,” he said. “It was a good race and we’ve maintained our run of a podium at every circuit, so I’m happy – particularly as it moves me ahead of Jack in the standings.”

Behind Mitchell, the top ten would be completed by Dan Zelos, Jack Davidson, Geri Racz and Joe Tanner. Racz had crossed the line ahead of Davidson but – like Weller – would be handed a penalty after the race for contact that saw the positions reversed.

Tanner would be forced to fight back from a tricky opening lap that saw him drop down the order, and contact with Kenan Dole would see him pick up a two place grid penalty that he will carry into the second race of the weekend on Sunday morning.

That was far from the only incident of note in the early stages of the race, with debutant Sam Smith getting caught up in contact with Max Coates on the opening lap, resulting in the Graves Motorsport man dropping down to the rear of the field.

As Smith then came back onto the circuit heading through Becketts, he was collected by Harry Nunn, putting Nunn out on the spot and leaving his participation in the remainder of the weekend in doubt due to damage.

Smith would be hit with a six place grid drop for Sunday’s opener as a result.

Barry Ward, Lydia Walmsley and Billy Hardy would also fail to make it to the finish, with the latter pair involved in their own contact on the second lap.