NATHAN EDWARDS SIGNS OFF WITH RACE THREE SUCCESS
Nathan Edwards brought the curtain down on the 2023 Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy season with a fine drive to victory in the final race of the campaign at Brands Hatch – although only after late heartache for rival Sam Gornall.
The reverse grid race had kicked off with new champion Tom Ovenden lining up on pole position, and the EXCELR8 driver held on to his advantage going into turn one only for the action to be halted to recover the car of Cameron Richardson from the side of the circuit after an off on the exit of Druids.
By that point, the luckless Ashley Gregory had seen another race come to an early end after she was tipped into a spin going into Surtees and clattered into the barriers.
On the restart, Ovenden held onto the lead ahead of Nicky Taylor, who briefly slipped behind Gornall off the line before reclaiming second mid-way through the opening lap.
Taylor then fought his way ahead of Ovenden into the lead of the race on the third lap, with the champion also dropping behind Gornall into third and then slipping to fourth behind Edwards – who had stormed through the field from tenth on the grid.
Gornall reclaimed the lead with a fine move around the outside at Surtees on the fifth lap, which opened the door for Edwards to follow him through into Clearways, and the pair ran together until the end of the penultimate lap – despite a brief scare when dealing with traffic in the closing stages.
Heading towards the final lap however, Gornall suddenly slowed coming up the line with a gearbox issue, which allowed both Edwards and Max Hall – who had just taken third from Taylor – to nip ahead.
It meant Edwards suddenly found himself taking to the top step of the podium ahead of Hall, with a dejected Gornall having to settle for third spot despite seeming to be well set for his maiden race win.
Taylor took the flag in fourth place to wrap up second in the championship standings, with Jack Byrne and Ovenden rounding out the top six.
A battling drive from James Black saw him score seventh, with Reece Lycett ending his rookie campaign with his best result of the weekend in eighth.
Race one winner Alex Keens scored a new lap record en-route to ninth, with Alex Solley climbing up to tenth after his race two dramas to end the year third in the points.