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Nelson makes it five wins after impressive showing at Thruxton

Race 1

Nelson King extended his winning run to four races with victory in a truncated opening race for the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Trophy at Thruxton.

The Graves Motorsport driver had qualified on pole position for the first time in qualifying ahead of former champion Matt Hammond, with the pair going side-by-side on the run up to Campbell when the lights went out for the first time.

Emerging from the complex however it was Louie Capozzoli – who had qualified third – who came out in front having managed to nip ahead of the pair to grab the lead.

King tried to come back at Capozzoli on the run up Woodham Hill for the first time but instead lost out to Joe Wiggin as he grabbed second, with Hammond having slipped back to fourth.

Capozzoli’s time at the front wouldn’t last for long however, with King managing to get ahead of the pair in front at the start of lap two to grab P1.

Before the race could develop however, the safety car was deployed for an incident at Village involving John McGladrigan and Sophie Wright.

The safety car would head out to allow the two stricken cars to be recovered, and would be forced to stay out longer than planned when a front-left wheel failure saw Frankie Taylor’s car end up stricken on three wheels on the exit of the final chicane.

Quick work from the marshals saw the LDR car removed to a safe place to allow the race to resume for what would be a two-lap sprint to the finish, with King holding on to the lead on the restart from Capozzoli, Wiggin and Alex Solley – the latter having managed to get ahead of Hammond before the caution period.

Solley however would drop out of the victory fight at the start of lap ten, with Hammond and Nicky Taylor both getting ahead and the pair then cleared Wiggin on the run up Woodham Hill.

Heading into what would be the final lap, King had pulled a small gap over Capozzoli and Hammond but the two chasing drivers were able to make use of the tow to close in on the run to the Club Chicane.

With King defending his lead, Hammond tried to launch his car around the outside of Capozzoli but couldn’t get through – leaving King to cross the line first to grab his fourth win of the campaign.

“I was a bit worried when the safety car was coming in as I’d have been happy to see it stay out to the finish!” King said. “It was actually a really good race in the laps we did as I got overtaken and then managed to get the move done to reclaim the lead at the right time.

“I think luck was on my side because Louie was having to defend from Matt on that final lap – he was on a real charge. It’s great to get the win.”

Race 2

King was able to hold his lead at the start of the race and quickly established a slender lead as the gaggle of cars behind diced for second spot, with Capozzoli holding onto his place ahead of Lee Pearce – who managed to jump up from sixth on the grid to hold third.

Matt Hammond, podium finisher in race one, was amongst those to lose out as he dropped back to ninth whilst Jack Byrne failed to get away off the line from 14th and would slip to the rear of the field.

Within a matter of laps, King’s advantage at the front had been eradicated as the and by lap five, the fight for first was a five car affair with Capozzoli, Alfie Glenie, Lee Pearce and Nicky Taylor all part of the train.

Glenie’s charge was particularly impressive from ninth on the grid and when Capozzoli tried to make a move on King for the lead going into the final chicane on lap six, he nipped ahead into second – with Capozzoli dropping to the back of the train when he lost momentum on the exit of the corner.

As a recovering Hammond then joined the battle, Glenie moved to the front of the pack when he was finally able to get ahead of King on the run up Woodham Hill to lead.

Glenie, who set the lap record at the circuit last season, then established a slender lead before being reeled back in by the pack, which was now headed by Capozzoli after more changes in position at the chicane.

King’s fourth place allowed him to retain his championship lead, with the top six in the race being completed by Alex Solley and Charlie Mann – both of whom towed their way up to the podium battle in the second half of the race.

Race 3

Nelson King extended his advantage at the top of the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Trophy standings with victory in a shortened final race of the weekend at Thruxton.

Charlie Mann had started the race from pole and held the lead at the start ahead of King and Alex Solley, only for the pair behind to nip ahead on the run up Woodham Hill for the first time.

As Solley, Mann and Louie Capozzoli diced for second behind, King continued to lead the way but at the end of the third lap, a multi-car clash exiting the final chicane led to the action being halted.

Coming onto the start/finish straight, Nathan Edwards was tipped into a spin that saw his MRM car come back across the circuit where it was collected by both Mike Paul and Morgan Wroot.

With Paul and Wroot both making contact with the pit wall and Edwards coming to a halt before pit exit, the race was stopped to let the cars be recovered before restarting over 15 laps.

On the restart, King maintained his advantage on the run to the complex, with Mann able to fend off the challenge of Capozzoli through the opening corners to hold on to second.

Capozzoli would be delayed on the exit of the complex which dropped him back behind Solley, a charging Jack Byrne and the Graves car of Nicky Taylor, with Lee Pearce finding himself run out of road going through Noble and being forced off across the grass.

However, before the race could get into its stride a further incident down the order would see the action halted for a second time, with Luca Marinoni Osborne and Brendan Fitzgerald clashing at the chicane.

Contact between the pair on the exit of the corner saw Marinoni Osborne’s car tipped into a roll before coming to rest against the barriers with the EXCELR8 driver able to climb from the car as the race was once again halted.

With the decision taken not to restart the race, the result was declared with King the victor ahead of Mann and Solley, with Byrne, Taylor and Capozzoli rounding out the top six.

Given the shortened nature of the race, half points will be awarded, with King ending the weekend leading the championship standings ahead of the next outing for the Coopers at Croft next month.


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