Stuart Middleton fended off his title rival Will Tregurtha to get a crucial victory in the first Ginetta Junior Championship race of the weekend at Rockingham.
Middleton’s sixth win of the campaign came in an incredibly close-fought race, with four cars scrapping it out for the victory in the closing stages.
It was Tregurtha who started the race from pole position, however his advantage was short-lived as his HHC Motorsport team-mate Lewis Brown moved into the lead.
By the end of the Deene hairpin Tregurtha was down to third, with an ambitious move for Middleton paying off around the outside as he rose from fourth to second.
That began a thrilling battle in the opening laps, with a double whammy for Brown on lap two seeing Middleton and Tregurtha pass him on the inside and outside respectively at Deene.
Brown and Tregurtha traded second between them over the next couple of laps, which allowed Seb Priaulx to close onto the battle – having earlier passed Harry King for the Rookie lead.
As the top four ran nose-to-tail, there was an added dimension to the race as rain began to fall in the closing laps, increasing the pressure on Middleton as he tried to hold off his pursuers.
The Douglas Motorsport ace did that successfully though to secure his first win since Croft in June, with Tregurtha taking second as both the top two notched their eleventh podiums of the year.
Brown completed the top three, his fifth rostrum of the campaign, while Priaulx took the Rookie victory in fourth ahead of Seb Perez, who closed onto the lead battle on the final lap.
King completed the top six, his efforts aided by an unfortunate spin for Daniel Harper – the two Rookies having swapped the position a couple of times before the Scholarship winner lost ground.
Dave Wooder led home a fiercely contested battle for seventh ahead of Kyle Hornby, while less than half a second split Connor Grady, Max Bird and Charlie Fagg behind at the flag.
Harper eventually secured fourteenth at the finish behind Tom Wood and Geri Nicosia, while Connor O’Brien led home fellow series debutant Jenson Dineen in seventeenth.
Full race results can be found here.