Nelson King produced another fine drive to secure a tenth win of the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Trophy season in the opening race at Brands Hatch – giving him an unassailable lead in the championship standings.

The Graves Motorsport driver had had to settle for fourth on the grid in qualifying as team-mate Alex Solley grabbed his first pole of the year, but quickly made up a spot at the start when Nicky Taylor was slow away from the line ahead.

Heading through Clearways for the first time, King then slipped down the inside of Nathan Edwards to move into second spot and then when Solley made a small error and got out of shape going through Surtees on lap two, King was able to once again grab the inside line through Clearways to move into the lead.

King was able to build a slender lead over the pack behind before the safety car was deployed to remove Lauren Tayla’s stricken car for the gravel at Clearways, but the Graves Motorsport driver was able to nail the restart on lap ten to retain his advantage at the front.

Gapping the chasing pack over the final two laps, King took the flag just over two seconds clear to put himself out of reach in the standings ahead of the two Sunday races that will conclude the campaign.

The points scored also ensured that King will take the Graduate Cup crown.

Solley had held on to second spot behind his team-mate in the early part of the race, with Taylor recovering from his tardy start to get ahead of Edwards at Druids on lap two.

On the first lap after the restart, Solley would lose out to Taylor going through Clearways, with Edwards also seeing the chance to nip through into third spot heading into Paddock Hill Bend to grab a place on the podium.

Solley was therefore left to settle for fourth spot ahead of Tom Ovenden, who had run in sixth from the opening lap before taking advantage of a mistake from Matt Hammond that saw him run off at Clearways on the first lap after the restart to grab fifth.

Charlie Mann took sixth ahead of Lee Pearce, with Jack Byrne, Joe Wiggin and Hammond rounding out the top ten.

Despite the challenging conditions on track, Tayla was the only retirement from the race, although John McGladrigan would run slowly at the back of the field with mechanical issues.