MAX HALL GOES ONE BETTER FOR MAIDEN WIN
Having grabbed a first podium finish in the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy in race one, Max Hall went one better to grab a maiden victory in a shortened second race of the weekend at Snetterton.
Following a hectic morning in which he was penalised for a move in race one before winning an appeal into the decision in the minutes before the field headed onto the grid, Hall lined up in second spot on the grid behind race one winner Nicky Taylor.
Taylor held the lead at the start ahead of a fast-starting Harry Hickton, who grabbed the place at Wilson to leave Hall in P3 and Tom Ovenden back in fourth.
Hall battled ahead of Hickton before the end of the lap to grab second spot and then launched a move down the inside of Taylor going into Agostini to grab the lead of the race.
Taylor tried to reclaim the lead with a move onto the outside at Wilson a lap later but that left him open to attack from Hickton; the pair running side-by-side down to Palmer where Taylor was on the inside line and managed to hold onto the spot despite a brief sideways moment.
That battle gave Hall the chance to break away from the fight for second, which had been joined at this point by Ovenden and Alex Solley to create a four-car train for position.
Hickton made another move on Taylor on lap four at Agostini only for Taylor to once again fight back into Hamilton, and as the quartet then headed down to Brundle there was drama as Hickton ran straight on and Ovenden suddenly found himself spinning to the inside of the circuit.
With fluids on the circuit, the chasing pack – headed by Rhys Hurd – then found itself scattering in all directions, with some drivers forced to take to the escape road before rejoining after Nelson and others able to slide through the corner and remain on the circuit.
Given the track conditions, the safety car was deployed to back up the field and as the clock ticked down to zero and it became clear that the action wouldn’t be able to restart, the red flag was then thrown to bring the race to an early end.
The result was therefore declared as the field had crossed the line at the end of lap four, making Hall the first rookie of the campaign to secure an overall win.
“It’s been a stressful morning with the penalty and then the appeal, so what a great way to finish it,” he said. “I had a good few battles on track and it would have been nice if the race hadn’t ended behind the safety car, but I’ll take it.
“I had a good rumble round the back but pulled P6 for the reverse grid which means I have work to do, but I think we have a good car and I’ll see where we can end up.”
Taylor was therefore left to settle for second spot to go with his earlier win, with third place for Hickton giving him the opportunity to step onto the podium for the first time since moving up from Junior Saloons at the start of the year.
“I knew from last year that I was quick at Snetterton and I came here feeling confident,” he said. “The jump from Junior Saloons in terms of the car hasn’t been that big, but the big step up has been the championship.
“I was P12 at Brands Hatch so knew there was work to be done and a lot of learning to do, so to come here and set a new lap record yesterday and now grab a third-place finish is great.”
Ovenden’s spin resulted in Solley crossing the line in fourth spot, with Hurd taking fifth place and Lee Pearce rounding out the top six as best-placed of the Directors Cup runners.
That should have put him onto pole for race three, but a post-race penalty for gaining an unfair advantage instead dropping him behind Jack Byrne in the result – meaning the Irish will instead line up at the head of the field for race three.
Reece Lycett, Sam Gornall and Frankie Taylor rounded out the top ten, although both Lycett and Gornall would also be handed penalties post-race for incidents on track that saw them drop down the order.
A five-second penalty for Lycett for contact with James Black dropped him down to 15th in the final result, with Gornall dropping down to twelfth after contact with Nathan Edwards.
That moved Frankie Taylor up to eighth, with Black and Gabe Fairbrother then filling ninth and tenth spots.
Ovenden would keep his car on track behind the safety car and crossed the line in 17th place before pulling off when the red flag was thrown, meaning the only retirements would be Andy Cobb and Brendan Fitzgerald.
AReeve Motorsport driver Cobb suffered a spin at Oggies on lap one and was clipped by Harvey Riby, resulting in the bonnet on his car becoming dislodged and meaning he returned to the pits, whilst Fitzgerald failed to take the start with a clutch issue.