Nicky Taylor backed up his strong form from qualifying by scoring a first Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy win since 2021 in the opening race of the weekend at Snetterton.

Taylor had flown in from a family holiday to Florida on Saturday morning, but showed no ill effects of his late arrival when he stuck his Graves Motorsport-run car on pole position with a new qualifying lap record.

When the lights went out for the start, Taylor was beaten away off the line by fellow front-row starter Jack Byrne whilst the field behind was forced to take avoiding action when Reece Lycett failed to get away from third on the grid.

Byrne’s time at the front would last for half a lap as he ran wide out of Oggies and Taylor was able to nip back ahead, edging clear at the front as his rivals diced over second spot.

Come the chequered flag, Taylor was nearly four seconds clear at the front.

“I’m not sure what happened at the start as I nearly stalled and Jack got ahead,” Taylor reflected. “He then had a moment part-way through the lap and I reclaimed the lead, and was able to build my advantage.

“It’s nice to end my run without a win at my home circuit and I can go home tonight, spend some time on the sim practising, and look forward to tomorrow.”

Byrne would slot in behind Taylor after his early moment and looked to be comfortable in the position before he was chased down in the closing laps by Max Hall and Rhys Hurd.

Hall had jumped from fifth into third on the opening lap but then ran wide at Montreal on lap two to slip back to fourth, and then lost further ground on lap two when both Tom Ovenden and Alex Solley managed to get ahead.

Hall however wasn’t in the mood to settle for a top-six finish and re-passed Solley on lap four before going three-wide with Ovenden and Hurd going into lap five – taking the inside line to overtake the pair ahead and reclaim third.

Closing on Byrne, Hall dived to the inside at Murray’s at the end of lap five and made a move stick before racing on to grab a first overall podium for both himself and the Westbourne Motorsport team.

“It was a really good race and I’m delighted to finish on the podium,” he said. “Getting the move on Jack was the key moment and to finish P2 is really important for me and hopefully gives us some momentum we can carry into the remainder of the season.”

Hurd followed Hall through into third place, with Byrne finding himself shuffled back down the order as Ovenden also nipped through, with the championship lead despatching with Hurd on the penultimate lap to snare his place on the podium.

Hurd’s hopes of a top-four finish came to an end on the final lap however when contact with Byrne as the pair went side-by-side into Nelson saw him run off-track and rejoin outside the top ten.

Byrne would take the flag in fourth spot but was then handed a twelve-second time penalty that drops him back behind Hurd in the final results to twelfth place.

As a result, Harry Hickton moved up into fourth place after a fine run that saw him set a new lap record, with James Black and Solley following behind – the latter having lost ground when he was run wide mid-way through the race.

Lycett bounced back from his issue at the start – which saw him fall as low as 15th – to come through to seventh, with Lee Pearce, Frankie Taylor and Gabe Fairbrother rounding out the top ten.

Three drivers failed to make it to the finish, all of whom were caught up in incidents on the opening lap.

Ashley Gregory returned to the pits to retire having tagged Sam Gornall at Montreal, with Luca Marinoni Osborne forced out in the same incident when he went off in avoidance.

Nathan Edwards would also go off as a result of the incident, and again later in the lap, before finishing just ahead of Gornall in 19th spot.

Brendan Fitzgerald was the other driver not to finish after spinning into the barriers on the exit of Oggies.