A quick-witted start from Mark Wakefield saw the local driver take his maiden MINI CHALLENGE – JCW win. The Excelr8 driver came under pressure late in the race, but will leave the first race with an early championship lead.
A dry line was gradually forming around the Oulton Park circuit as the Mini’s lined up ahead of their reduced 13 minute sprint. Polesitter Max Bladon made a promising start, but ran wide at the first corner dropping a position to Wakefield.
From there Bladon started dropping back, with Charlie Butler-Henderson also muscling his way past. Butler-Henderson had started fifth but got the best start of any of the front-runners soon finding himself chasing the leader.
Further back, the battle for fifth saw Rob Smith drop behind James Turkington. Rob found himself moving backwards during the race, ending up seventh after 4 laps.
Meanwhile, Brett Smith was up into second as Butler-Henderson lost momentum along the back of the circuit. By now Bladon had recovered, with the Exelr8 driver attempting to catch the #15 as Turkington followed.
As the time counted down, it became a three-horse battle between Wakefield, B. Smith and Butler-Henderson. The trio was clearly tripping each other up, with Butler-Henderson particularly allowing Wakefield to break.
Over the line, Wakefield took his first JCW win to the delight of his local Northwich fans. B. Smith and Butler-Henderson completed the podium and setting up a quality year for the class.
Bladon would hold on to fourth, surely a disappointment after his front row start. Turkington would claim fifth having had his attention distracted by Reece Barr in the closing stages.
Wakefield celebrated on the podium, thanking his family and team for all the support.