Tom Ovenden battled to pole position in a hard-fought Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy qualifying session around the Donington Park GP layout.

The championship leader emerged at the head of a frenetic battle that raged across the 30 minute session, which would be impacted by the arrival of rain showers in the closing stages.

Before the action even got underway, a trip into the gravel at the Old Hairpin for EXCELR8 racer Luca Marinoni Osborne saw the session red-flagged to allow his car to be recovered.

When the field was then released to get the session underway, times were immediately under the qualifying lap record previously held by Matt Hammond, with Westbourne’s Harry Hickton being the first man to break the 1:55s marker on his first flying lap.

With drivers breaking into groups in order to try and benefit from a tow, Rhys Hurd then took his turn at the front before Alex Keens, Jack Byrne and Alex Solley all bettered his mark – the leading three at that stage covered by just 0.006s.

As the clock ticked down towards the final ten minutes, Max Hall grabbed provisional pole but Ovenden was able to edge ahead just before light rain started to fall over the far side of the circuit.

With no-one able to improve at the front, Ovenden would emerge at the head of the pack to score his third pole of the campaign – picking up the additional six bonus points in the process.

Hall would have to settle for second place with his time just 0.021s away from the pole as he maintained his impressive qualifying record this season, with Solley just 0.030s off top spot in third place – as he bids to try and recover ground lost last time out at Croft.

Byrne would end up with the fourth fastest time and was only a tenth of a second away from pole position, with Keens and Hurd rounding out the top six; Keens scoring his best qualifying result in the process.

Nathan Edwards, Harry Hickton, Nicky Taylor and Gabe Fairbrother rounded out the top ten – with Fairbrother another driver to emerge from the session with a new personal best qualifying performance.

The close nature of the session was reflected in the fact that the top 15 drivers in the session were covered by less than a second.

Aside from Marinoni Osborne, Reece Lycett and Ashley Gregory ran into issues during the session, with Lycett forced to pull off with a mechanical issue and Gregory spinning off at Coppice in the closing stages.