James Black admitted he was delighted to secure a maiden Vertu MINI CHALLENGE Trophy podium in the opening race of the new season at Snetterton.

Black had come close to the top three during his rookie campaign and had taken class honours in 2023, but had been unable to secure the result he had chased throughout the campaign.

A tough qualifying session for the Graves Motorsport man meant he lined up eighth on the grid for the first race, but a mature drive saw him work his way forward to fourth behind rookie Ronnie Smith.

Following an intriguing battle between the pair, Black was able to find a way ahead and although unable to chase down Sam Gornall and Harry Hickton ahead, he was delighted to start the year with silverware.

“It’s been a long time coming!” he said. “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this stage, probably more than most people will realise, and I think it’s fair to say that there are times when you question whether you can get onto the overall podium when it doesn’t happen.

“To do it in the first race of the season is great, particularly when we didn’t qualify where we should have done. I knew we had the pace and it’s great that we could show it in that race.

“Ronnie put up a really good fight when we were dicing for third, and it was a good, clean battle – which is what you really want as a driver.”