Will Orton benefitted from a late puncture for Dan Zelos to secure his second win of the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE season in race two of the weekend at Brands Hatch.

Zelos had started the race from pole ahead of Orton having headed the opening race on Saturday, and was able to retain the lead at the start as the field streamed through Paddock Hill Bend for the first time.

Behind, Oliver Meadows lost ground to slop back down to eighth spot as Bradley Gravett moved up into the top three, with Barry Ward and Josh Porter both also losing ground after suffering spins on lap one.

The lead pair would quickly build an advantage over the field behind and were more than twelve seconds clear when Zelos was suddenly forced to dive into the pits having suffered a front-left puncture.

It left Orton with no competition at the front of the pack and despite easing off over the final laps, he took the flag 11.744s clear of second spot; the largest winning margin in JCW history.

“You have to take extra points like that when they come,” Orton said. “The pace we were showing at the front was unreal and even when I eased off after Dan pitted, we still won by a huge amount.

“We’re trying to catch up when it comes to the huge amount of experience Dan has, but two wins in the first four races isn’t a bad start.”

With the lead pair establishing that gap over the rest, the main focus of the race would be on the battle to be best of the rest, with Gravett battling with Jamie Osborne and Dominic Wheatley in the early stages.

Osborne briefly managed to get ahead of Gravett on lap two before the son of former BTCC champion Robb reclaimed the spot, with Osborne then coming under pressure from Wheatley; the pair swapping places on lap six before Wheatley managed to make a move stick a lap later.

The trio would remain static until the finish from that point on, with Gravett and Wheatley both scoring their maiden podium results – even if neither driver was fully aware of their position when the chequered flag dropped.

“I was in full-blown tears coming round the final corner,” Gravett said. “I’ve spent my whole life trying to get into a race car and that isn’t just my first podium in the MINI CHALLENGE – it’s my first podium full stop. To do it at this level is an extraordinary feeling and something I’ll never forget.

“I wasn’t aware it was actually second place until we came back into the pits at the end and that’s where I was told to park in parc ferme – so that was a bonus!”

“I had no idea I was on the podium as I never saw Dan pull off,” Wheatley added. “I was ready for the Graduate podium so to come from P15 – which was really out of position – and get a P3 is fantastic. We’d been scratching our heads about set-up but I think we nailed it there.”

Osborne would take the flag in fourth spot ahead of Marlo Cordell, with Lewis Selby grabbing sixth spot and the Directors Cup win.

Nelson King had been part of the battle for a top six finish before he got a box of neutrals coming out of Paddock Hill Bend and lost ground, meaning Thomas Jack Lee, Joe Tanner and Lydia Walmsley rounded out the top ten.

James Griffith would come through to eleventh spot with King having to settle for twelfth.