Lee Pearce fended off the challenge of newly crowned champion Nelson King to secure victory in the final race of the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Trophy season at Brands Hatch.

Pearce went into the race looking to go one better than in race two, where he had grabbed second place behind King, and took the start in fifth spot after the top six on the grid were reversed.

The return of heavy rain just before the start of the race led to the decision being taken to start behind the safety car, with Charlie Mann leading the field ahead of Jack Byrne and Tom Ovenden, and Pearce and King both getting the jump on a slow-starting Nathan Edwards.

Mann led the early stages as Byrne came under pressure from Ovenden for second spot, with Ovenden edging up the inside at Druids only for Byrne to fight back at Graham Hill Bend to retain the position.

However, it opened the door for Pearce behind and he managed to get a run on Ovenden going into Surtees and then made a bit to get ahead of Byrne through Clearways – drawing alongside and then completing the move into Paddock Hill Bend to grab second.

At the same time, King was able to nip ahead of Ovenden to take fourth, with Pearce quickly closing onto the rear of leader Mann – getting a stunning run out of Paddock Hill on lap seven that allowed him to grab the lead at Druids.

Having taken third from Byrne, King then overhauled Mann with a fine move that saw him go around the outside of Mann at Druids and take the inside line into Graham Hill Bend to secure second.

King put in a number of quick laps to close in on the leader and when Pearce found himself baulked by the car of Lauren Tayla going through Surtees, he was able to close onto the rear of the man ahead. However, despite King’s best efforts to sign off with a hat-trick, Pearce was able to hold on to secure the final win of year.

“Second earlier on was great and I wanted to go one step more at my home circuit,” he said. “I love conditions like this and the heavens opened at the right time and I’ll certainly take the win.

“Mid-season when things weren’t quite going to plan, it was all a bit sketchy about whether we’d come back again next year as we were picking up damage and weren’t getting the results. However, ending the year on a high like this with a win at my home track – I’ve got to come back again haven’t I!”

Behind King, the fight for third place would go all the way to the wire as Mann came under pressure from Edwards, who had managed to get ahead of Byrne at Paddock Hill.

Heading through the final corner, Edwards managed to nudge his nose up the inside of Mann’s car for the run to the line but Mann held on to grab the final place on the podium by just 0.022s, with Byrne and Nicky Taylor following behind.

Taylor would prove to be one of the stars of the race as he came through the field from 15th place after his race two penalty to grab a fine top six finish, with Ovenden, Matt Hammond, Joe Wiggin and Alfie Glenie rounding out the top ten.