Josh Smith took a second straight BRSCC Avon Tyres National FF1600 Championship victory at Croft, holding a trio of rivals at bay in the closing laps of race two.
Continuing his strong pace from Saturday’s opening race, Oldfield Motorsport returnee Smith made a good start, holding Joey Foster at bay for the first half of the race. Michael Eastwell, who finished third in race one, was also sitting behind the leading duo early on.
It was an unexpected face that turned what had been a straightforward affair into a tense finale, with James Clarke making the most of his Cliff Dempsey Racing debut, picking off B-M Racing’s Rory Smith at Barcroft on lap two and catching the leaders.
Clarke caught and passed Eastwell for third with a strong exit out of Tower with three laps remaining, slipping past entering the Jim Clark Esses. As Foster tried an unsuccessful move at the hairpin on race leader Josh Smith, both Clarke and Eastwell closed in.
Smith was given breathing room as Foster was forced to defend from Clarke, and meant the teenager took his third career victory in the championship.
After an initially unsuccessful attempt on Foster for second around the outside of Tower, Clarke made his decisive move on the final lap, getting a run down the inside into Clervaux and snatching second place.
Locking his front left wheel, Foster ran wide through the gravel, allowing Eastwell past into third. Team Dolan’s Matt Round-Garrido picked up fifth place and also set fastest lap. He finished just 1.280 seconds behind winner Smith.
Round-Garrido was also aided by a mistake from his rivals battling for the same position. Jamie Thorburn made contact while going around the outside of Rory Smith at Sunny Out, spinning round, breaking his throttle cable and blocking Smith’s path. Both retired from the race.
Chinese Formula 4 regular Jordan Dempsey finished sixth, while championship leader Niall Murray just missed out on wrapping up the title in seventh place despite climbing 10 places during the race. His Team Dolan team-mate Jack Wolfenden finished right behind in eighth, leaving the door open for Murray to pass at the hairpin just after the halfway mark.
Carter Williams showed his third placed qualifying run on Saturday was no fluke, emulating Murray by climbing to ninth from 18th and last on the grid.
JMR Scholarship driver Sebastian Job rounded out the top 10. Richard Morris secured class victory in Clubman Post-’89, finishing nearly half a minute ahead of Vincent Jay.
|1||Pro||Josh Smith||Van Diemen||10 laps|
|6||Pro||Jordan Dempsey||Van Diemen||+3.685|
|7||Pro||Niall Murray||Van Diemen||+7.978|
|8||Pro||Jack Wolfenden||Van Diemen||+8.546|
|10||Pro||Sebastian Job||Van Diemen||+14.752|
|11||Pro||David McArthur||Van Diemen||+14.978|
|Fastest lap: Round-Garrido, 1:29.787|
|1 Murray 488 2 Eastwell 402 3 Round-Garrido 348 4 Foster 341 5 Cooper 297 6 Thorburn 271 7 R Smith 209 8 Neil Maclennan 195 9 Gruber 195 10 Hugo Bentley-Ellis 156|
|1 Jay 482 2 Morris 375 3 Daniel O’Beirne 106 4 Felix Fisher 104 5 John Svensson 97 6 John Ferguson 94 7 Sam Street 74 8 George McDonald 62 9 Henry Chart 53|