Nathan Edwards secured pole position for both races of the latest rounds of the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE this weekend at Oulton Park.

With only two races taking place in Cheshire, the session would take on added importance with no opportunity to make up ground in a reverse grid, and what followed was the closest qualifying of the campaign by far.

Max Hall was the first driver in the session to set a lap under the 1m 32s mark as the youngster looked to maintain the form he displayed last time out at Snetterton before Edwards made his move to grab provisional pole.

That lap was a second quicker than he could manage on his second best time before improving to provisionally sit on pole for both races.

It looked like he could be on to score a first pole since moving up from the Cooper class, but Marlo Cordell then pipped him to the top by just 0.007s after recovering from a slow first sector – taking time out of his rival over the rest of the lap to edge his JamSport-run car onto race two pole.

However, following the session, Cordell’s car failed post-qualifying checks with the end result being the loss of his times and a drop to the back of the JCW grid.

It means Edwards inherited pole position for race two and the additional six bonus points, with his second fastest time good enough to beat Hall to pole for the opening race of the weekend later today.

“I’m pretty happy as its a bit like Monaco here in these cars,” he said. “We didn’t test ahead of the weekend so to come here on Friday and have to learn the track in one of these cars was a bit wild but it’s all gone well. I wasn’t thinking about position today so to come to one of the hardest tracks and be on the front row is great.”

Tom Ovenden returned to form to put his car third on the timesheets ahead of Hall before being promoted onto the front row by Cordell’s penalty, with Max Hall and Josh Porter then sharing the second row of the grid for Sunday’s race.

Laser Tools Racing’s Nelson KIng and EXCELR8 driver Dom Wheatley share row three, with Dan Zelos and Lewis Selby rounding out the top eight.

For Zelos, that marked his worst qualifying result since the final rounds of the 2022 season, although he will be on the second row of the grid for race one thanks to his second best time behind Edwards, Hall and Ovenden, with King and Wheatley completing the top six.

The JCW Sport class was headed by Albert Webster, with the JRW Motorsport driver looking to maintain the form he showed with a quadruple win at Snetterton last time out.

Webster was three-tenths of a second clear of the Invitational entry of Harvey Riby and eight-tenths ahead of current points leader Dylan Hotchin, with the teenager also lapping ahead of the slowest JCW car in the session.

“I really enjoyed the session as we got the car right today and went out and smashed it,” he said. “It was good to get into the JCW cars as this circuit allows us to battle with them a bit and it would be nice to fight with them in the races.”

The same top three drivers fill the first three places for the opening race of the weekend, with the pack behind headed by Cameron Richardson despite a tough session for the NAPA Racing driver that ended with his car off the road at Druids.

Chris MacKenzie was fifth quickest ahead of Ben Crossley, with that pair swapping positions on second quickest times for race one.