JACK BYRNE COMPLETES BACK TO FRONT RUN WITH RACE THREE WIN
Jack Byrne ended the Thruxton meeting with a second victory of the campaign following a dramatic end to the final Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy race of the weekend.
The Irish driver had started the race back in eleventh spot on the grid as he looked to fight back from a DNF in race one, with Reece Lycett drawn on pole as aimed to challenge for his maiden win in the series to cap a strong recovery from his own race one dramas.
Lycett was able to lead the way through the opening lap as fellow front-row starter Gabe Fairbrother found himself shuffled down the order when he was run wide through Goodwood and the pack behind was able to stream through.
It meant Tom Ovenden jumped up into second spot from double winner Alex Solley, with Luca Marinoni Osborne rocketing up the order to run in fourth having made up five places.
Further back however, a moment for Cameron Richardson at Church saw the NAPA Racing driver get out of shape before then clipping both Frankie Taylor and Paul Manning.
Whilst Taylor could continue, Manning would make contact with the barriers and was out on the spot along with Richardson, leading to the safety car being deployed so the cars could be recovered.
The action resumed on lap six with Lycett continuing to lead the way from Ovenden, with Solley – who had lost third just before the safety car was called out – quickly moving back ahead of Marinoni Osborne to reclaim his place on the podium.
Lycett’s lead would last until the seventh lap when both Ovenden and Solley nipped ahead around the back of the circuit, whilst behind, Byrne was on the move as he fought his way ahead of Fairbrother to hit the top six.
Solley made an attempt to take the lead from Ovenden going into the chicane only to open the door for Lycett to nip back ahead into second and he then made a move on the leader at the end of lap ten only to be delayed on the exit of the chicane to allow both Ovenden and Solley to get ahead.
Solley however then lost out around the back of the circuit as Lycett and Byrne got through, with Byrne then taking second into the chicane as they went three wide with Ovenden.
Heading up to the chicane for the final time, Byrne managed to nose his car up the inside of Ovenden who did his best try and hold on around the outside going into the corner – which forced Byrne to bail out and run across the grass on the second part of the corner.
As Ovenden then exited the corner having lost momentum, he was tagged by Solley as he came through the final turn and had nowhere to go, tipping Ovenden into a spin that saw him end up hitting the pit wall, whilst Solley slid off onto the barriers on the outside – taking the luckless Lycett with him.
It meant Ben Jenkins – who had run strongly in the top six throughout – suddenly found himself following Byrne across the line to take second spot, with Marinoni Osborne joining the pair on the podium in third spot.
Rhys Hurd took top rookie honours in fourth from Nicky Taylor – who lost ground with a slow start – and Fairbrother, with the top ten rounded out by Max Hall, James Black, Lee Pearce and Brendan Fitzgerald.
Of the three to go off on the final lap, only Ovenden was able to get going and take the flag to score points, albeit back in 16th spot.