Lewis Selby made a gamble on slick tyres pay off in astonishing fashion to secure a maiden victory in the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE at Donington Park.

Heavy rain overnight and into the morning played havoc with the schedule for Sunday’s track action, leading to the cancellation of the reverse grid second race as no running was available prior to lunch.

It meant the grid would line up based on the times posted in qualifying, with Tom Ovenden sitting on pole position for the first time ahead of JamSport pair Ant Whorton-Eales and Marlo Cordell, as well as EXCELR8 team-mate – and defending champion – Dan Zelos.

With the race having already been put back once, the field headed out to the grid for the start on wet tyres but after the first of two green flag laps, Selby – starting in eleventh spot – took the decision to dive into the pits and make the switch to slicks.

As the field gridded up for the start, Selby’s car was dropped from its jacks and headed to the end of the pits to allow him to rejoin the field at the back, with Ovenden leading from Whorton-Eales as Cordell slowed and pulled off the inside of the circuit with a mechanical issue.

Whorton-Eales would lose second before the end of the lap as Zelos moved ahead with Jamie Osborne also briefly following through before Whorton-Eales and Max Hall slipped ahead.

Ovenden led until he ran slightly wide at McLean’s to allow Zelos through into the lead but at the back of the pack, Selby’s call to switch tyres was already looking to be the correct one as he lapped quicker than the wet runners on just the second lap.

Making up five spots on lap three, Selby’s charge through the field saw him lapping up to four seconds a lap quicker than the cars ahead.

By lap nine, Selby had closed onto the rear of Zelos and once ahead, he was able to simply streak away from the pack behind to cross the line more than 22 seconds clear of Zelos at the front – doubling the record for the biggest JCW win.

Ovenden would chase Zelos home to take third place and a first podium finish, just ahead of Dominic Wheatley. Wheatley had battled his way forwards alongside Lydia Walmsley in the early stages of the race, with Walmsley climbing into third in her strongest performance to date before a gearbox problem put her off into the gravel at McLeans.

Wheatley would end up just ahead of Whorton-Eales in the final results, with the battle for third spot being comfortably clear of Jamie Osborne in sixth – who had to fend off the advances of Nathan Edwards in the closing stages.

Max Hall took eighth spot despite picking up a time penalty for exceeding track limits, although he was helped by Bradley Gravett and Nelson King clashing at McLeans on the final lap, forcing King into retirement and dropping Gravett down outside the top ten.

That drama also meant a top ten finish for JCW Sport winner Dylan Hotchin, who added to his second place finish in the opening race to take his first category win – taking the flag ahead of a number of JCW cars.

Race one winner Cameron Richardson had led the class in the early stages of the race before Hotchin battled his way ahead of lap three, establishing a slender lead over Richardson until a moment on lap eight dropped him down the order.

It left Hotchin running ahead of Ben Crossley at the front, with the JamSport pair securing a 1-2 in class despite Crossley picking up a time penalty that would drop him behind the Invitational car of Hannah Chapman in the final results.

A decision on whether the second race of the weekend will be run at an event later in the season will be taken in due course.