Nathan Edwards added his name to the list of winners in the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy with a hard-fought victory in the second race of the weekend at Donington Park.

The EXCELR8 driver had endured a difficult campaign prior to the last meeting at Croft, where the team was able to get to the bottom of an engine issue that had hampered his season; the end result being lap record-breaking pace by the end of the weekend.

Edwards started the race from third on the grid behind Alex Solley and Tom Ovenden, with Solley holding the lead going into turn one for the first time as Edwards managed to sneak ahead of Ovenden into second.

In tricky wet conditions, Edwards then made a move for the lead going into the chicane, forcing Solley to take to the grass and providing Ovenden with the chance to go between the pair for the run to the hairpin – where the points leader jumped into the lead.

Edwards then tried to take the outside line around the final corner and launched an attack on Ovenden for the lead going into Redgate for the second time – sweeping ahead into the lead.

Solley’s trip across the gravel had also allowed Rhys Hurd and Nicky Taylor to get ahead of him before the end of the opening lap, and they would then become embroiled in a battle for position with Ovenden as Edwards looked to break away at the front.

Hurd managed to get ahead of Ovenden on lap four and as the laps counted down, would draw onto the rear of Edwards to leave the two cars running together going onto the final lap.

Despite being forced to take a defensive line through the final sector, Edwards was able to hold on as he grabbed a maiden victory, with Hurd chasing him home across the line to take top Rookie honours.

“I was pretty scared on that final lap!” Edwards admitted. “I was told not to push too hard early on and I think I did as I tried to get away and the gap was growing but then towards the end it was coming down and down, and I made a few mistakes.

“When I saw the last lap board come I knew I had to bring it home and this is all down to the team. I have to thank them as well as my driver coach Dan Zelos as they never gave up on me, and also all of my sponsors and my family. I’m gutted that my mum couldn’t be here to see me get this win, but I know she’ll be looking down on me and be proud.”

Hurd was a man on a mission as he chased Edwards down, briefly setting the fastest lap of the race as he closed in on his rival ahead.

Second however still marked his equal best result of the campaign, and a second Rookie Cup win to strengthen his advantage in the standings.

“I’ll take another podium even if I really wanted the win,” the Chandler Motorsport man said. “We caught Nathan late on but it wasn’t worth a banzai move on the last corner to try and get ahead. We’ve had good pace all weekend and I wanted the rain, so hopefully it’ll stay for race three and we can push for the top step.”

Ovenden would follow Hurd home to score third place and extend his advantage in the points over Solley, who briefly dropped down as low as fifth before gaining a spot on lap two when Nicky Taylor ran across the gravel at the chicane.

The lead four would cross the line together with a handy gap over Jack Byrne, who had been forced to recover from contact at the final corner on the second lap.

Byrne had a recovering Taylor trying to go around the outside into the left-hander before Luca Marinoni Osborne tried to dive up the inside of the pair, forcing Byrne into Taylor and resulting in all three running off track.

Whilst Marinoni Osborne was forced to retire to the pits, Taylor dropped down to P9 and Byrne to P13, with Byrne then charging back up the order in impressive fashion – one notable move seeing him take two places in one from James Black and Alex Keens.

Taylor looked set to follow him home in sixth but a charging Lee Pearce had other ideas, setting the fastest lap as he nipped ahead on the penultimate lap to secure sixth.

Behind Pearce in a train of cars that would swap position throughout, Keens took eighth place from Harry Hickton, with Max Hall rounding out the top ten.

With the top four reversed on the grid for the weekend finale, Solley will lead the field away in race three.