Motor Sport News - - Racing Reports - By Gra­ham Brown Pho­tos:

Gavin Mur­ray rose from fifth over the line to even­tual win­ner of a typ­i­cally con­tro­ver­sial Best in Bri­tain event af­ter a raft of penal­ties were im­posed across all the other lead­ing driv­ers.

With the event be­ing the last ever Best in Bri­tain likely to be held at the seem­ingly doomed South Lon­don venue, emo­tions were al­ready run­ning high in any case.

That the race came on the day which had seen the death of Hot Rod leg­end and first ever Best in Bri­tain win­ner, Mick Col­lard ( see left), sim­ply piled poignancy on top of sad­ness.

With the field sen­si­bly split up for three heats, 16 cars took to the track for the open­ing race.

Shane Bland got away first and seemed set to leave the rest in his wake. That reck­oned with­out Rob Mcdon­ald how­ever. The Scot quickly made his way past Stu­art Mclaird to chase down the leader.

Pass­ing half dis­tance, Mcdon­ald ap­peared poised to launch his at­tack but that faded away, along with his han­dling, to al­low Bland an un­op­posed vic­tory. Mcdon­ald got dis­qual­i­fied in any case for a first-lap al­ter­ca­tion with Paul Gomm, el­e­vat­ing Mur­ray to sec­ond place.

Lee Pep­per was first to break in heat two but soon lost out to a charg­ing Billy Wood. Wood ex­tended his lead for the rest of the way with Pep­per keeping him in sight but even­tu­ally giv­ing best to Lay­ton Mil­som for sec­ond.

Heat three fea­tured a sim­i­lar run­away win for Steve Dud­man. Once he’d shrugged off Colin Hitch, Dud­man was al­ways just in­creas­ing the gap be­tween him­self and the rest.

‘The rest’ were putting on an en­ter­tain­ing dis­play though, with Jaimie Mccurdy, Ja­son Kew, Adam Maxwell and Kym Weaver con­duct­ing a lively places scrap for most of the race. Mccurdy got home sec­ond but picked up a con­tact penalty, hand­ing the po­si­tion to Kew and el­e­vat­ing the world cham­pion Maxwell to third.

With 21 cars still fit for the fi­nal, a hard-fought race was al­ways in prospect and it didn’t dis­ap­point.

With Wood on pole and Kew to his out­side they looked likely to be vy­ing for the lead into turn one. But that reck­oned with­out a de­mon start by Maxwell from row two, which al­most helped him squirm his way to the front en­ter­ing the first cor­ner. He didn’t quite make it and was forced to drop back to fifth, but this was just the start of the ac­tion.

Wood led with Kew and Bland dis­put­ing sec­ond un­til Kew got away from Bland and at­tacked Wood’s lead, the two clash­ing as they ex­ited turn three. This slowed them up and al­lowed Bland to rush in, the trio run­ning the back straight three-wide be­fore Wood went spin­ning at the other end of the track.

Bland got through to lead be­yond the mid-point with Kew and Maxwell still very much in it.

Kew was mount­ing an­other lead chal­lenge just as they were in­ter­rupted by yel­low flags, thrown af­ter Wood and Terry Hunn clashed, Hunn spin­ning into the fence and Wood get­ting black flagged for putting him there.

By this point, seven of the first eight cars had at­tracted black crosses (which means their con­duct would be investigated af­ter the race), so it was al­ready look­ing like the re­sult might well be de­cided in the stew­ards’ box af­ter the race.

Leader Bland pressed on with de­fend­ing champ Kew keeping Maxwell at bay all the way to the flag.

But it was to be fifth-placed man Gavin Mur­ray – the only fron­trun­ner with­out a black cross – who even­tu­ally col­lected the spoils.

The sixth-placed car home, the Ginetta of Bradley Dynes, in­her­ited sec­ond while Bland suf­fered the dis­plea­sure of the stew­ards, along with Kew, Maxwell and Mcdon­ald, who were all pushed down the or­der.

How­ever, af­ter a raft of ap­peals, the re­sults re­main pro­vi­sional un­til all cases have been ex­am­ined. Re­sult Heat one: 1 Shane Bland (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 2 Gavin Mur­ray (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 3 Billy Wood (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 4 Ja­son Kew (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 5 Stu­art Mclaird (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 6 Chris Le­hec (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 7 Jaimie Mccurdy (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 8 Lay­ton Mil­som (Vaux­hall Ti­gra). Heat two: 1 Wood; 2 Mil­som; 3 Lee Pep­per (Peu­geot 206cc); 4 Le­hec; 5 Adam Maxwell (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 6 Bradley Dynes (Ginetta G40R); 7 Paul Gomm (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 8 Dick Hil­lard (Vaux­hall Ti­gra). Heat

three: 1 Steve Dud­man (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 2 Kew; 3 Maxwell; 4 Mccurdy; 5 Kym Weaver (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 6 Bland; 7 Rob Mcdon­ald (Vaux­hall Ti­gra); 8 Terry Hunn (Mazda RX-8). Fi­nal: 1 Mur­ray; 2 Dynes; 3 Bland; 4 Kew; 5 Maxwell; 6 Mcdon­ald; 7 Mccurdy; 8 Mil­som; 9 Pep­per; 10 Mclaird.

Mur­ray claimed the glory af­ter keeping it clean in a tur­bu­lent fi­nal race

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