TOM OVENDEN GRABS VICTORY IN SHORTENED FINALE
Tom Ovenden made it three different winners from the weekend in the final Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy race at Donington Park.
Ovenden had started the race from second on the reverse grid behind title rival Alex Solley, who held onto the lead going into turn one from Ovenden and Rhys Hurd.
Solley’s advantage would only last as far as McLeans however as Ovenden sneaked through into the lead, and he suddenly found himself with a large lead at the front when Solley, Hurd and Nathan Edwards went three wide on the run to the chicane.
As the trio squeezed together, Edwards was sent spinning to the left and bounced across the gravel, delaying the cars behind and leading to a jumbling in the order behind – with Solley and Hurd retaining their positions but Nicky Taylor jumping up into fourth as Edwards slipped back down to eighth.
At one stage, Ovenden was more than three seconds clear but Solley – who had at one stage dropped back to fourth – set a new lap record and was closing him down when the action was brought to an early end by an incident at the chicane on lap eight.
Running in a pack of cars that included Tommy Gilham, Luca Marinoni Osborne and Daniel Armstrong, Brendan Fitzgerald clipped the tyre stack at the chicane and his car was tipped into a roll before coming to rest upside down.
Fitzgerald was able to climb from the car as the race was red-flagged with a few minutes remaining on the clock, confirming Ovenden as the victor ahead of Solley – with the pair scoring the same number of points from the race thanks to Solley’s fastest lap bonus.
However, there would be a twist in the tale post race, when Solley was deemed to have gained an unfair advantage during a move on Hurd at the hairpin, with the decision taken to demote him three places in the final result.
That promoted Harry Hickton up into second spot and Hurd into third, with the pair having battled ahead of Taylor just before the race-ending incident. Taylor would also make up a place as a result of Solley’s penalty to be classified in fourth, with Solley dropping to fifth – losing ground to Ovenden in the standings as a result.
Lee Pearce capped a strong weekend with sixth place having been one of the drivers to take advantage of a mid-race retirement for title contender Jack Byrne, who was forced to slow and return to the pits when running in P6 mid-way through the race.
Frankie Taylor, Alex Keens and James Black rounded out the top ten, with the Coopers now preparing to head for Silverstone for their next round in three weeks time.