Last year’s Walter Hayes Trophy winner Niall Murray suggested he could be the man to beat again in 2017 with a dominant pole position for heat four at Silverstone.
On a damp track, it was this year’s Northern FF1600 champion Joshua Smith who set the early pace, with no one lapping within a second of him for the first few minutes.
Once Murray had found his stride he began to take chunks of time out Smith’s benchmark and pulled clear by over a second at the flag as track conditions began to improve.
The top six was competitive throughout with drivers trading positions lap after lap.
As the drivers began to find more grip in the closing minutes, Team USA scholar Jonathan Kotyk clinched second, the only driver to lap within a second of Murray.
Keith Donegan was close to Kotyk’s time in his Van Diemen but had to settle for third, a tenth of second clear of Oldfield Motorsport driver Smith – who slipped to fourth at the end.
There was then a gap of 0.8s back to Smith’s Northern title rival Luciano Carvalho’s UCLAN Van Diemen in fifth and Chris Middlehurst in sixth; the pair being separated by just a few thousands of a second.
Ed Moore was the only other driver to lap within two seconds of the pole pace in seventh in his Motorsport Events Van Diemen.