Billy Monger took his maiden victory in a predictably close-fought Ginetta Junior Championship opener around the tight and twisty Brands Hatch Indy circuit.
With 26 cars tackling the 1.2 mile track, a fierce contest was expected and the 14-17 year old racers certainly delivered as darkness closed in at the Kent venue.
Rookie pairing Patrik Matthiesen and Stuart Middleton started the race on the front row, with a quick start for the poleman seeing him lead through Paddock Hill for the first time from Monger, Senna Proctor and Middleton.
The Danish racer’s lead was short-lived though as Monger grabbed the advantage at Paddock Hill Bend on the second lap, with the top four swiftly breaking away from the pack behind.
Jonathan Hadfield settled in fifth on lap two, but was soon in seventh as rookies Sophia Floersch and William Stacey worked their way past on the next lap.
Dan Zelos and Jamie Caroline, the two highest placed drivers returning from 2014, were left behind scrapping for eighth in the early stages, until some slight contact on the back straight dropped them into the pack.
At the front, Monger remained under pressure throughout the ten lap encounter, but the JHR Developments racer kept his pursuers at arm’s length en-route to his first win.
“I’m over the moon,” Monger told TCF. “It was a tough race from the start. I managed to get through to second at the start, and then managed to get up the inside of Patrik at Paddock.
“After that, I couldn’t break away with the tow, so I had to defend for my life. I’ve come out on top and it’s a great way to start the season.”
Matthiesen held second for a podium finisher on his debut, as well as the Rookie Cup victory, while Proctor took his second Junior podium in third ahead of Middleton, Floersch and Hadfield, the latter passing Stacey for sixth two laps from the end.
Lewis Brown picked up eighth, with Zelos and Caroline fighting back to ninth and tenth respectively on a subdued season opener for the pair. Dave Wooder and Geri Nicosia were next up, with Matt Chapman, Will Tregurtha and Kyle Hornby completing the top fifteen.
The only driver not to finish the race was Frank Bird, the R&J Motorsport man retiring on lap eight after having previously not completed a flying lap in qualifying.
Full race results can be found here.