After taking pole position in convincing style earlier this morning, Alex Connor would be looking to take victory with fellow championship rivals close behind in cold and changeable conditions at Silverstone. Luke Browning had a 57 point lead over Zak O’Sullivan before today’s action, and with plenty of points still left on the table.
And with the rain falling as the drivers left on the formation lap, the conditions couldn’t be more unpredictable with all drivers starting on slick tyres. But as the light went out it was a decent start for Alex Connor as the Arden Motorsport driver held the lead through Copse with Casper Stevenson giving chase down the Wellington straight with Zak O’Sullivan in tow.
The top 6 remained unchanged after the first lap as the Arden pair of Frederick Lubin and Roman Bilinski were swapping positions for seventh and eight respectively as fellow rookie Christian Mansell also got involved.
Championship leader Luke Browning was coming under pressure from James Hedley through Brooklands and Luffield on lap three, but the Fortec Motorsport title contender managed to hold on to fourth place as the top three of Connor, Stevenson and O’Sullivan began to pull away.
Abbi Pulling was helped Hedley team up on Browning, with both JHR Developments drivers appearing to have more race pace at the five minute mark as the race was beginning to settle down. Meanwhile, Alex Connor was developing a half second lead over Argenti Motorsport’s Casper Stevenson, with O’Sullivan appearing closer to challenging second place at this stage.
Mansell was quickly up to sixth place after a mistake from Abbi Pulling, promoting the top rookie of 2020 so far, further ahead of his nearest rivals in Lubin and Mathias Zagazeta down at the back of the pack. The following lap however, Pulling was able to slide up the inside of Mansell into Copse corner to regain the sixth place.
O’Sullivan had now set a fastest lap of 56.862 as he began to close in on Stevenson for second place, the leading trio now dropping Browning in fourth place, who was still under the watchful eye of last week’s Thruxton triple winner, James Hedley.
But with eight minutes remaining, Hedley would lose a place to team mate Pulling, relegating the championship hopeful to sixth place as Pulling was beginning to set some fastest sectors and laps in chase of Luke Browning’s fourth place. Just as Pulling did to Mansell earlier in the race, Hedley did to Pulling on the next lap, with the latter regaining his fifth place with just under six minutes to go.
But eventually it all came to tears, with Pulling defending from Hedley and ultimately losing control of her car and falling to the back of the pack, Hedley remaining in fifth place. A real shame for Pulling after a strong weekend in Thruxton last weekend.
The Arden drivers of Lubin and Bilinski made contact the following lap, with the rookie Lubin also retiring from the race. This incident packed second half of the race promoted Reema Juffali up to sixth in what would be her best finish since joining the series last season.
With just a minute remaining, Zak O’Sullivan was up to second place as the rain began to fall heavier. And further down the field we had further contact between Juffali, Mansell and Hedley, with the former drivers dropping down the order and Hedley miraculously remaining in a top five position.
But as the flag flew for the end if the race, it was Alex Connor that took the victory by the slimmest of margins are a twitchy moment coming out of the final corner, finishing less than two tenths ahead of Zak O’Sullivan, with Casper Stevenson in third place and championship leader Luke Browning coming home in fourth place.
Race 1 Classification:
|1||Alex Connor||Arden Motorsport||21 Laps|
|2||Zak O’Sullivan||Carlin||+ 0.199|
|3||Casper Stevenson||Argenti Motorsport||+ 3.289|
|4||Luke Browning||Fortec Motorsport||+ 10.148|
|5||James Hedley||JHR Developments||+ 14.784|
|6||Mathias Zagazeta||Carlin||+ 19.574|
|7||Roman Bilinski||Arden Motorsport||+ 24.261|
|8||Reema Juffali||Argenti Motorsport||+ 26.763|
|10||Frederick Lubin||Arden Motorsport||DNF|
|11||Abbi Pulling||JHR Developments||DNF|