Mike Evans opened his seasonal account at Cadwell Park, after converting pole position into a hard fought victory.
A sunny and dry morning greeted the 16 car entry, but qualifying was soon halted when Marcus Bicknell's Mallock broke its diff. Evans pushed hard to secure pole, but felt he could have gone quicker. "It needed more wing for the race, even though I overshot the Hairpin on my fastest lap and exited Barn on the grass on the last lap," he explained.
Alex Osborne was second quickest but was forced to withdraw from the race. "Coming out of the Gooseneck the back stepped out onto the grass and I bounced down the run off. I may have kissed the tyre wall, but not a real hit, but it wrecked the nose and kinked the front of the chassis," said Alex.
Having won both rounds so far this year, Barry Webb was third quickest. "I missed a gear but I am just not as quick here," said the reigning champion. The top three were all covered by 0.590s, before a two second gap to a delighted Guy Parr. "The car was fantastic so well balanced, that's my best ever qualifying position," he said proudly.
Howard Payne felt his Mallock was "a bit loose at the back end"as he completed the third row. Jamie Champkin's Phantom was fractionally behind Payne, with Vaughan Thomas' Mallock equally close. Des Andrews and John Kelly completed the top ten qualifiers.
The sky was considerably more threatening as the 15 car grid assembled. Webb once again had the legs of Evans at the start, with Freeman tucking into third as they climbed the hill to Charlies. The lead trio had already made a break by the end of the opening lap, while Payne, Champkin and Parr filled the top six places. Thomas had his sights set on Andrews' seventh place from the off, but his efforts brought a second lap spin at Barn.
Evans soon made up for "another poor start" by threatening Webb at every opportunity. Freeman could only watch as his rivals dueled, but Payne had the dueling Champkin and Parr looming ever larger in his mirrors as the race wore on.
Evans pressure finally paid off when Webb made a rare mistake entering Mansfield on the fifth lap. "Barry had got the jump at the start again and was generally quicker on the straights, but I had the pace in the corners," said Evans.
Gradually Evans consolidated his lead with Webb settling for second from a closing Freeman. Behind them Champkin was able to ease ahead of Payne on lap seven and make fourth his own. "It was getting critical, defending from Guy and attacking Howard. I couldn't have got by without Howard's co-operation though," he said.
Payne managed to hold off Parr's stern challenge, which ebbed in the closing stages when Parr's Mallock began to smoke. "I thought he had got me, I had understeer and brake problems, but I just held on," said Payne. "I thought I had him too, he kept defending so hard I got inside at Barn and he still out powered me onto the straight," Parr replied.
Andrews was a solitary seventh with John Kelly, Clive Fidgeon and the multi-spinning Thomas completing the top ten.
The next round is a double-header at Pembrey on May 20/21.