The number 17 annihilates the competition in Race 1, with a late crash for O'Gorman and Claridge taking them out of contention for the Cup
Franco Bourne (Franco Bourne/SP125 Racing) was in a class of his own in Race 1 at Brands Hatch, the number 17 absolutely annihilating the field to pull himself right back in the mix at the top of the standings. Before late drama that took out Casey O'Gorman (Microlise Cresswell Racing) and Harvey Claridge (City Lifting/SP125 Racing), who had been his closest competition, Bourne had been 14 seconds clear on Lap 14. As the duo behind him crashed out, the advantage extends to over 25 seconds - with Charlie Farrer (Victoria House Academy/Mortimer Racing) the man crossing the line in second. Third place went to Evan Belford (City Lifting by RS Racing), the number 52 beating former points leader Eddie O'Shea (WAM) to the podium by a tenth and a half.
Bourne took the holeshot off the front row, the number 17 scorching away into the lead ahead of Claridge and O'Gorman launching himself up from the third row to third. Farrer ended up fourth after a tougher start and quickly the top three quickly started to pull clear, the number 71 at least in a little clear air ahead of the squabble for fifth.
That squabble for fifth involved O'Shea, Belford and Corey Tinker (Stauff Fluid Power Academy), with the man in the points lead on the way in losing out and looking set to cede the top spot. That was only compounded at the front as Bourne began to put even more pedal to the metal, lap record after lap record coming in from the number 17 as he pulled away in the lead.
That left Claridge in second and Farrer battling O'Gorman for third, but the number 72 was able to dispatch Farrer not too long after to set off in pursuit of the number 16. As Bourne continued to take whole seconds out of his closest competition, O'Gorman had managed to reel in Claridge and by Lap 8, he was past.
That didn't last long. Sure enough, the number 16 hit back a couple of laps later, with the two setting near identical laptimes - and traffic starting to make life complicated as well. Farrer was holding a comfortable fourth, with Belford having leapfrogged an almighty duel between O'Shea and Tinker to take over in fifth.
Over the line for the final lap, Bourne had as many seconds in his pocket as laps raced, his stunning performance taking him to the top step with seeming ease. And the 25 points are valuable, moving him to within six of the top as the final race on Sunday dawns and no one likely to bet against him retaining that searing pace overnight...
Behind Bourne, the drama changed the standings significantly. Onto the final lap Claridge was holding off O'Gorman, but the number 72 then headed up the inside to try and strike late before disaster struck instead. Contact sent both skidding out into the gravel trap and suddenly promoted Farrer to second, the number 71 taking those 20 points to become the new man atop the standings heading into Race 2. O'Gorman and Claridge can now no longer take the crown.
The Belford-O'Shea-Tinker battle that had been to complete the top five had then become a fight to complete the podium, and as all three rounded the final corner almost neck and neck it was tough to call. The number 52 was able to take it, with O'Shea just able to stay ahead of Tinker by 0.038. The number 8 is now three points off the top in the standings after taking P4 - which is the exact difference between the points given out for third and fourth...
Behind Tinker's impressive Saturday at the office, Jamie Lyons (Jamie Lyons Racing) took sixth in some clear air, ahead of Rossi Dobson (Rossi Dobson) in one of his best rides of the year. Behind him, an almighty battle for eighth was won by Sullivan Mounsey (Lloyd & Jones PR Racing), ahead of James Cook (Wilson Racing), the returning Bailey Stuart-Campbell (151s S-C Racing), Elliott Dufton (D&D Racing), Harrison Crosby (Banks Racing), Ollie Walker (Moto Rapido/SP125 Racing), Jonathan Garness (Microlise Cresswell Racing) and Ryan Hitchcock (Wilson Racing) as that freight train completed the points.
That's it from Saturday, with Farrer leading O'Shea by three points and Bourne just six off the top heading into Race 2. Three contenders, but surely Bourne must feel he holds the advantage after his demolition job Race 1? See who lifts the crown on Sunday at 13:35 (GMT +1) as it all goes down to the wire!