Ant Whorton-Eales overhauled Ashley Sutton at the final corner for the opening Renault UK Clio Cup victory of the season at Brands Hatch.
After the opening race on Saturday was postponed after an incident, fans were treated to a thrilling duel between experienced Clio campaigner Whorton-Eales and debutant Sutton.
After the pair dispatched pole-sitter Ash Hand into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, they commenced a race-long battle as Whorton-Eales’ Clio filled the mirrors of leader Sutton.
As the race progressed Whorton-Eales’ attempts to pass intensified, the SV Racing ace briefly squeezing ahead through Paddock Hill three laps from the end before Sutton cut back in front at Druids.
Their fight went down to the final lap, with Whorton-Eales seizing on the slightest of gaps at Clearways to nudge his way through to take his second career Clio victory.
“I’m delighted but, boy, that was a hard-fought win,” said Whorton-Eales. “It was a really good clean battle between Ashley and I but when my chance came I had to take it, as I could see Hand was closing up fast on us. He took the wide racing line into the corner which gave me the gap I needed.”
“I’m not happy with how that worked out,” commented Sutton. “I don’t feel that Ant’s move was quite in the spirit of things which was a shame because up to that point we’d had a very close but fair race, but it’s laid down the rules. We’ll go to Donington and see what happens there.”
Hand, who had run a lonely third throughout the race, closed onto the leader’s tails as they battled in the final laps but was left half a second shy of the win at the finish.
It proved to be a tale of errors in the fight for fourth, with early occupier Paul Rivett sliding wide at Clearways before his successor Brett Smith had a moment of his own at Graham Hill Bend.
That meant Jordan Stilp took the spot on a subdued weekend for the highest placed returning driver from 2014, while Charlie Ladell secured a fantastic fifth place finish from thirteenth on the grid for Team Cooksport.
Smith and Rivett recovered from their moments in sixth and seventh respectively, while Jack Mitchell took eighth on his debut following late contact with SV team-mate Ben Seyfried, the latter spun to fifteenth at the finish.
Rory Collingbourne took ninth while George Jackson completed the top ten as the sole JamSport representative on the day, with team-mates Dan Holland and Thomas Grundy missing from action after their race-ending incident the day before.
Paul Knapp secured the Masters Cup honours in eleventh overall ahead of Mark Howard, who was back on track after 20Ten Racing rebuilt his car overnight following his part in the previous day’s accident, with Freddie Hunt next up after a spin at Druids ahead of Rory Green and the aforementioned Seyfried.
Full race results can be found here.