Harry Hickton produced a fine drive through the field in the reverse grid race to secure his maiden win in the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE Trophy at Snetterton.

Hickton had started back in ninth spot after finishing as runner-up to Westbourne Motorsport team-mate Sam Gornall in race one but was on a charge from the very start – making up six spots on the opening lap alone.

Up into the podium places, Hickton then moved ahead of Alex Solley at turn one on the second lap before diving down the inside of Gabe Fairbrother at Agostini to hit the front.

From there, he was never troubled out front as he eased away from the squabbles behind to snare his first win since joining the series last year.

“We knew the plan from the beginning and we executed it perfectly,” he said. “I didn’t expect to get to the front so quickly, but when I was there it was a case of keeping the pace up and maintaining the gap.

“It’s a great feeling to have the win and it was nice and clean coming through the pack, which is great and it continues a fantastic weekend.”

Alex Keens had been the man who started on pole but he dropped out of the podium battle mid-way through lap one with a spin from the lead at Brundle – which left Fairbrother as Hickton’s nearest rival once he had made his way to the front.

The EXCELR8 driver found himself under ever-increasing pressure from his rivals behind, with James Black moving up into third after a four-car squabble on the Bentley Straight on the second lap that shuffled the pack in the fight for third.

Black himself had Ronnie Smith pushing hard to get ahead which he managed on lap three, and the Chandler Motorsport racer set off after Fairbrother with Black and Jamie Keates fixed onto his tail.

Keates got ahead of Black on the penultimate lap and as the train headed down to Agostini on the final lap, things came to a head in the battle for second. As Fairbrother braked for the corner, Smith tapped the rear of his car and in turn was tapped by Keates, which was enough to knock Smith’s car briefly out of gear and saw him slip behind Black down to fifth.

Fairbrother looked to have been able to hold on to second but on the run to the line, Keates drew alongside and just nosed ahead to take second spot and his maiden podium finish, with Fairbrother forced to settle for third from Black and Smith – who took a second rookie win of the weekend.

“I’m a little bit frustrated but it’s the first round and it’s a long season,” Fairbrother said having missed out on P2.

“There is always race three, and I just need to find a little bit more in myself. The podium at Silverstone towards the end of last season really gave me a boost, and it’s nice to pick up another one so early this year.”

Alex Solley would be involved in the podium fight early on but slipped back down to sixth spot by the finish, with Reece Lycett and Luca Marinoni Osborne following close behind.

Frankie Taylor recovered well from his race one dramas to come through the field to take ninth spot, with Joshua Wilby scoring a first top ten for both himself and Team Avago in tenth place. However, Wilby was then hit with a penalty post-race for Rhys Hurd, which dropped him down the finishing order and instead promoted Ashley Gregory into the top ten.

The race for the Directors Cup would ultimately be decided on the second lap, when race one winner Ben Taylor tangled with Paul Manning at Palmer, leading to Taylor dropping to the back of the field and forcing Manning into retirement.

That left John Castle to take class honours for the first time in his second race in the series.

“I should have brought it home yesterday, so I wanted to make sure I stayed out of trouble and did the business on track,” he said. “If you look at the times between me, Paul and Ben, its all quite close and with Tommy [Watson] to come back as well, I think we’re on a great battle all season.”

Aside from Manning, the race would be one to forget for earlier winner Gornall, who suffered a clutch issue at the start and was forced to pull off mid-way through the opening lap.

Katia Loggie also failed to complete a lap, spinning off into the field on the outside of turn one.