As in race one Hand led all the way from pole position and set the fastest lap for two more bonus points. But unlike race one he was not this time able to shake off Sutton’s Team BMR Restart-liveried car and the outcome was a dramatic final bend.
Sutton, using the slipstream effect to suddenly close up to Hand, tried diving past his team-mate under braking into the Club chicane. As they rubbed doors both took to the escape road before rejoining the track and crossing the line Hand-Sutton.
It was similarly close behind in the battle for third as WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett took to the kerbing and grass to just keep SV Racing’s Ant Whorton-Eales at bay. Fourth for Whorton-Eales – up from 11th on the grid – means he leaves Thruxton still in the championship lead.
Hand commented: “Ashley closed up so quickly in the tow – a lot quicker than on previous laps – as we came out of Church Corner that I didn’t have time to move across and defend. It gave him the inside line under braking for the chicane and we were both probably over the limit trying to win it. I love races like that.”
Sutton said: “We had a deal – play nice for nine laps and then go for it so I did. You’re only team ‘mates’ for so long in a race! That gap opened up nicely for me at the end there so I had to have a go. Fair play to Ash he held off the brakes as well and although it was desperately close it was fair and I’ve taken a few more points out of Ant’s championship lead.”
Triple Champion Rivett added: “The two Ashes used each other’s slipstreams to get away from me and then at the end Ant put in a superhuman effort to get past me but I wasn’t giving up my podium place then. There’s no way he was going to make that move stick and I had my defence worked out before we got to the corner. Fourth this morning; third in this one… keep doing that and we’ll be in the title fight come the end of the season.”
Elsewhere there was an exciting battle for fifth as well as a long queue of cars fought over the position, eventually taken by Team Cooksport’s Charles Ladell. His team-mates Jon Maybin and Rory Collingbourne followed in sixth and eighth positions, sandwiching Team BKR’s James Colburn.
SVR’s Jack Mitchell, 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp and JamSport Racing duo George Jackson and Dan Holland were also close behind as just six seconds covered the fifth to 12th-placed finishers.