JACK BYRNE GRABS MAIDEN WIN WITH ACTION APLENTY BEHIND
Jack Byrne produced a controlled drive in an action-packed second race of the weekend at Brands Hatch to grab his maiden win in the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy.
The Graves Motorsport driver started from second on the grid behind Tom Ovenden and launched a bid for the lead when the lights went out for the start, trying to place his car around the outside of the poleman going into turn one.
Ovenden was able to hold on as the field headed up towards Druids with Byrne coming under pressure from Nicky Taylor, but behind there were dramas for rookie Harvey Riby, who went sideways into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend before his car dug in and rolled before coming to rest on its wheels.
While Riby could climb from the car without injury, the action was halted to allow his car to be recovered from the gravel, with the field re-gridding as per their original positions for the restart.
This time around, Byrne rocketed into the lead off the line, helped by Ovenden missing a gear to leave him under pressure from Taylor on the run up to Druids, where the pole sitter was caught out by cold rears and ran wide to drop down to 13th spot.
As Byrne led the field round to end lap one, it was Lee Pearce who emerged in second spot having nipped ahead of Taylor, with Alex Solley, Nathan Edwards and Max Hall following behind.
Edwards made a move on Solley heading into the start of the third lap with Hall also trying to follow him through, with the young rookie managing to clear both of the drivers ahead to move into fourth – right on the tail of Pearce and Taylor in the fight for second.
Taylor would make his move on Pearce at Druids on the fourth lap only for Pearce to fight back a lap late – albeit only for a corner before he ran wide dicing with Hall – who had followed him through – to slip back to third again.
Pearce however managed to nose his car down the inside of Taylor heading into Paddock Hill on lap six and made the move the move stick into Druids, only for Taylor to fight back into Graham Hill Bend.
The pair ran together towards Surtees where Taylor found himself on the outside and ran across the grass – allowing Pearce to get ahead and dropping Taylor back into third, just ahead of Edwards, Hall and fellow rookie James Black.
Further behind, Ovenden was bidding to fight back from his earlier issues and by the half-way stage of the race had moved into the top ten, with his charge aided by drivers ahead delaying each through their own battles on track.
After Frankie Taylor grabbed sixth spot from Black, Ovenden quickly followed him through before moving into the top six as the positions ahead finally seemed to be settling down heading into the closing stages.
Two laps from the end however there would be a sting in the tail, with Taylor moving into second at Druids and Edwards then also passing Pearce for third just before both Taylor and Pearce were handed time penalties for exceeding track limits.
Byrne wasn’t too concerned about that however as he continued to run alone out front, taking the flag at the finish to earn a maiden win by more than five seconds.
“I was happy with the first start but then on the restart, it was even better and I was out front and out of trouble,” he said. “Every time I looked in the mirrors I could see they were three or four wide and I was able to ease away. We’ve been chasing this win for a fine and this is a nice way to do it.”
Although Taylor would cross the line in second spot, his time penalty dropped him back down to seventh place – meaning it was Ovenden who suddenly found himself finishing in second place having battled his way to third on the row. Solley would round out the podium ahead of Edwards and Frankie Taylor.
“My initial start was great but then after the red flag, I missed second gear and then lost the rear end at Druids,” Ovenden said. “I was gutted but I’ve learned to stay calm and not give up and I was able to pick the cars off ahead as I could see what they were doing and knew where to make the move. Second is a good result and hopefully I can make a better start in the next one!”
That third race will see Edwards starting from pole after the top four on the grid was reversed.
The top six in the race was rounded out by Black as he took top rookie honours for the first time ahead of the penalised Taylor, with the top ten rounded out by Ashley Gregory, Harry Hickton and Rhys Hurd.
Pearce’s penalty saw him finish back in 13th spot.
Aside from Riby, the only person not to finish the race would be Andy Cobb, who retired to the pits following contact at Druids on the opening lap.