Jamie Caroline produced a ‘champions’ drive to climb from seventh on the grid to a crucial victory in the opening Ginetta Junior Championship race at Brands Hatch.
Caroline overcame a grid penalty from Silverstone last time out to battle through the field, before passing polesitter and chief title rival Senna Proctor to take his tenth win of the season.
Proctor had led the field into an early safety car period, caused by an opening lap incident for Devlin DeFrancesco coming out of Druids, with Billy Monger providing early competition before Caroline came through.
Up to fourth on lap one before the safety car, Caroline quickly dispatched Dan Zelos at the restart before passing Monger later in the lap with a great move into Sheene for second place.
Moving right onto the leaders tail, Caroline made his move into Paddock Hill at the start of what turned out to be a dramatic lap – with Caroline briefly losing his lead when a wide moment at Westfield led to a wild slide across the grass.
Caroline gathered himself up though and then watched as Proctor and Monger ran wide at the very next bend, promoting Caroline back into the lead after a breathless twenty seconds or so.
The HHC man would maintain it for the remaining two laps for victory, with Proctor finishing up in fourth behind his JHR Developments team-mates Monger and Zelos.
“That win means everything to me,” an emotional Caroline told TCF. “We had a five place grid penalty and it didn’t look like things were going my way, but I was able to pick them off one by one until I was in the lead.
“I needed to calm down a bit when I was in the lead, I had a massive moment out the back. My heart was racing and on any other day I could have gone off, but it went my way and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come this afternoon.”
Dave Wooder had mounted a last lap challenge for the podium, but an attempted move into Surtees led to contact with Zelos that only spun himself around, dropping Wooder to fifteenth behind Jonathan Hadfield and Rowan Bailey.
Stuart Middleton and Kyle Hornby completed a close fought top six behind Proctor, with Middleton making a huge step forward in his hopes of winning the Rookie Cup with class leader Patrik Matthiesen retiring with damage.
Lewis Brown took seventh ahead of Alex Day, the latter’s sixth top ten finish of the campaign, while Matt Chapman and Ben Green rounded out the top ten ahead of William Stacey and William Tregurtha.