Will Tregurtha secured his maiden Ginetta Junior Championship victory after emerging victorious from a close-fought battle with Stuart Middleton and Dave Wooder throughout the opening race of the 2016 season at Brands Hatch.
Middleton started the fifteen minute encounter from pole position, but it was fellow front-row starter Will Tregurtha who got the best launch to lead the 22 car field through Paddock Hill Bend for the first time from Middleton and Wooder.
Seb Priaulx had impressively qualified at the top Rookie on the grid in fourth overall, but an unfortunate jump start for the JHR Developments racer led to a drive through penalty, ended his chances of challenging for the Rookie honours.
That promoted Max Bird into the lead of the class as took the battle to the top three, who all changed positions on lap three when Middleton squeezed into the lead at Paddock Hill, before Wooder also moved ahead of Tregurtha at Druids.
Bird benefitted from an unfortunate incident between HHC Motorsport team-mates Charlie Fagg and Lewis Brown as they battled for fourth place, with contact leaving Fagg stranded in the gravel trap to bring out the first safety car of the season.
Just before the racing was interrupted though, Wooder was able to take the lead into Clearways with a robust move that shuffled Middleton down to fourth place. Straight after the restart, the lead changed hands again though with Tregurtha getting ahead into Druids.
Behind, Middleton had moved past Bird for third place at Paddock Hill and soon after he was back into second at the expense of Wooder, but despite his best efforts in the closing laps, Tregurtha was able to edge away for the race win from Middleton, Wooder and Bird.
There was some thrilling battles throughout the order around the 1.2 mile Indy circuit, with the fight for the final spots in the top six proving particularly close-fought – Tom Gamble and Cameron Roberts emerging in fifth and sixth respectively.
It could hardly have been closer between Dan Harper and Geri Nicosia for seventh, with the former just taking the spot by six hundredths of a second in a drag race to the flag. Kyle Hornby finished up ninth at the head of an eight car train, which included the recovering Brown in fourteenth.
Full race results can be found here.