Ross Martin secured a hat-trick of Scottish Formula Ford victories at Knockhill, winning the coveted David Leslie Trophy after fending off a late charge from chief rival Jordan Gronkowski.
It was a dramatic turnaround from the same meeting last year, when Martin crashed out on the final lap, causing significant chassis damage.
Having spent all weekend defending from Gronkowski, Martin found himself once again protecting a slim lead throughout, coming under mounting pressure in the final laps.
Gronkowski gradually wound a two second gap down to a few tenths on the final lap, getting a better exit from Clark’s corner before an ultra-defensive inside line from Martin ensured a last lap pass would not come off.
Behind second placed Gronkowski was Martin’s one-off Graham Brunton Racing team-mate Josh Smith, scoring a podium after two frustrating non-finishes.
He carved his way through the field in the opening half, including a trademark pass around the outside of Matt Chisholm exiting the hairpin, identical to those he had used to great effect in race two.
Picking off James Clarke for third at the half way mark, he was already over five seconds off the leading pair, leaving him no choice but to settle for third.
Clarke was under pressure from Chisholm throughout in a tense battle over fourth position. Both made quick work of Sykes on the opening lap at Clarke’s and the hairpin respectively, with Chisholm trying both inside and outside lines at Duffus Dip to no avail.
Sixth place went to Sebastian Melrose, who had followed Smith through the field but struggled to find a way past Sykes. Once he made the move stick, Melrose had fallen off the rear of the top five.
Sykes finished seventh, well clear of next best Steven Barlow in eighth and Fraser Gray in ninth.
Ross Howe brought up the rear despite jostling for position with Sykes, Smith and Melrose early on, running wide exiting the Chicane and taking a trip through the gravel that cost him several seconds.
|1||Ross Martin||Ray||12 laps|
|2||Jordan Gronkowski||Van Diemen||+0.318|
|5||Matthew Chisholm||Van Diemen||+11.459|
|10||Ross Howe||Van Diemen||+41.019|
|Fastest lap: Smith, 54.648|
|1 Martin 231 2 Melrose 137 3 Chisholm 112 4 Clarke 112 5 Gronkowski 109 6 Sykes 80 7 Neil Broome 79 8 Barlow 73 9 Gray 59 10 Howe 47|