Jack Mitchell returned to the top step of the Ginetta Junior Championship podium with victory in an action-packed opening race of the day at Oulton Park.
The Airwaves Racing-backed driver led the seven lap encounter from start-to-finish, the race being shortened following a lengthy safety car interlude caused by one of many on-track accidents.
Mitchell started the race from pole position, however he nearly lost his advantage into Old Hall for the first time as fellow front-row starter Jamie Chadwick nosed ahead around the outside.
The inside line ensured Mitchell stayed ahead, with his JHR Developments team-mate being muscled down to third on the exit of the first corner behind James Kellett.
Fellow JHR racer Alex Sedgwick started fourth meanwhile, but he challenge for a maiden outright podium finish was thwarted when he was unceremoniously pushed off into the gravel at Cascades by Ryan Hadfield.
As he recovered to the track, Chadwick was challenging to regain second around the outside at Shell, however it nearly cost her a spot to Hadfield on the exit of the bend.
As Mitchell led the field through the remainder of the lap, the action started to kick off in the pack behind with a spin for Senna Proctor at Knickerbrook.
On lap two, a similar sideways moment for Jack Rawles through Cascades caused chaos, with four cars forced to dive off track in avoidance, including Jonathan Hadfield and Jamie Caroline.
Later around the lap Rawles was involved in a second incident. Contact into the Shell hairpin dislodged Lewis Brown’s bonnet and broke his steering, meaning he was unable to prevent contact with Harry Mailer and Rawles as he rejoined the track, eliminating all three from the race.
With three cars stricken on the inside of the track, the safety car emerged to allow them to be move into safer spots. At the end of lap five it exited proceedings, but not in the usual fashion as it broke down on the run up Deer Leap, with an exuberant Jonathan Hadfield spinning off just in front.
Mitchell held his nerve to continue leading the field away, with Kellett, Chadwick, Ryan Hadfield and Lando Norris in close pursuit. Norris was the first to make a move, passing Hadfield on lap six, with Caroline also dispatching the R&J Motorsport racer a lap later.
That was the final lap of the race, and despite Kellett setting the fastest lap of the race, Mitchell held him off to take his fifth win of the season by 0.177 seconds.
Behind, the drama continued at the final corner as a late, optimistic lunge from Norris on Chadwick for third resulted in contact. Both were forced wide, with pandemonium ensuing behind as the cars behind sniffed a chance at an unlikely podium.
The driver who stormed through to take third was Caroline, completing a sensational drive through the field from sixteenth on the grid for the Total Control Racing ace. Norris recovered to fourth ahead of Ryan Hadfield – though post-race both were initially excluded for their contact with Chadwick and Sedgwick respectively.
Following an appeal, Hadfield was reinstated to the results in fourth. Dan Zelos was promoted to fifth, the Thruxton race-winner producing a strong drive after completing the opening lap down in twelfth.
William Taylforth matched his season’s best result in sixth ahead of a hugely frustrated Chadwick, with Ben Pearson, Pedro Cardoso and Matt Chapmancompleting the top ten.
Sedgwick’s recovery drive after his lap one trip into the Cascades gravel saw him finish twelfth, while Jonathan Hadfield took thirteenth – however his own eventful encounter continued when he was excluded.
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2014/142303gij.pdf