Stuart Middleton has taken the early championship lead in the 2016 Ginetta Junior Championship after emerging victorious from an action-packed second race of the season opening weekend at Brands Hatch.
Continuing the championship’s reputation for producing some of the most entertaining racing on the BTCC package, the latest crop of talented teenagers served up a thriller in Kent with overtaking throughout the 22 car field.
Courtesy of his victory in the opening race of the weekend, Will Tregurtha started from pole position, but his advantage was short-lived as Middleton squeezed through at Druids on the opening lap, before Dave Wooder also squeezed ahead into Clearways.
Those three had battled for victory throughout Round One, but this time around they had company with Cameron Roberts briefly taking third from Tregurtha, before he dropped back behind the hard-charging Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Dan Harper.
The Northern Irishman worked his way past Tregurtha on lap seven, but his spell in third only lasted a handful of laps before the HHC Motorsport man worked his way back ahead, leaving Harper to battle with Roberts behind.
As this was going on, Middleton was maintaining the race lead despite continued pressure from Wooder and the reigning Winter Series champion produced a measured drive to take his maiden victory in the main championship.
The battle for the last podium position went down to a dramatic final corner meanwhile, when slight contact between Tregurtha and Roberts sent them both wide at Clearways, allowing Lewis Brown to storm past both to take third at the flag.
That concluded a stunning drive through from fourteenth place on the grid for the HHC Motorsport man, with Roberts, Tregurtha and Harper completing the top six behind him ahead of Geri Nicosia and Tom Gamble.
Charlie Fagg took ninth after a superb drive of his own from 22nd on the grid, while Seb Perez was promoted to the final spot in the top ten after Kyle Hornby was excluded post-race for a yellow flag infringement.
In the Rookie Cup, Tom Wood completed the class podium behind Harper and Gamble in eleventh overall, while Seb Priaulx recovered from a spin to finish fourth. It was a race to forget for Jordan Collard meanwhile, with a meeting with the Druids tyre wall leading to an early retirement.
Full race results can be found here.
Middleton’s podium double means he holds an eleven point championship lead from Wooder as the championship prepares for its first triple-header meeting of the season next time out at Donington Park (16/17 April).