Lee Pattison withheld immense pressure from Paul Rivett and Mike Bushell to take his first Renault UK Clio Cup win for nearly three years in the second race of the meeting at Brands Hatch.
Pattison converted pole position into a lights-to-flag victory, the first in the Clio Cup for his Team Cooksport outfit, but it was far from easy for the 2010 vice-champion as he battled with his experienced foes throughout the nineteen lap encounter.
2014 champion Bushell quickly worked his way past Dan Zelos and race one winner Paul Streather in the early stages and latched onto the tail of triple champion Rivett, with the front three quickly pulling away for a battle of their own.
Running nose-to-tail almost throughout the race, Pattison produced a sublime defensive drive to stop Rivett from creating any clear cut chances to pass, with the WDE Motorsport man in the unenviable position of trying to attack and defend at the same time.
Bushell’s best chance of snatching second came at the end of lap seventeen as he squeezed down the inside coming out of Clearways, but a scary moment saw contact as Rivett closed the door almost send both drivers into the pit wall.
The duo survived though, but their battling had allowed Pattison the breathing room he needed to cruise home to victory and the early championship lead, with Rivett and Bushell completing the podium.
Behind the lead battle, Streather had a relatively lonely run in fourth throughout, but it was more close-fought behind as Charlie Ladell emerged with a second consecutive fifth place finish following a race-long duel with Josh Price.
Arguably the performance of the race came from Ant Whorton-Eales, who had to sit at the back of the grid and start ten seconds later than the rest of the pack following an exclusion from pole position in qualifying for a technical infringement.
The JamSport Racing ace mounted a sensational recovery drive through, scything his way through the field to complete the top six ahead of Daniel Rowbottom and Max Coates, the latter completing a pair of Graduate Cup wins for the weekend.
David Dickenson finished ninth, though it could have been more for the experienced Clio contender with a wide moment at Clearways late on costing him ground, while George Jackson completed the top ten ahead of Ollie Pidgley and Sam Watkins.
Price was left to settle for thirteenth after running in the top six for large parts of the race, with it being a similar story for Luke Kidsley who had run in the top ten battle early on before falling back to seventeenth at the finish.
Full race results can be found here.