The penultimate round of the Honda British Talent Cup promised it could be pivotal, and after a dramatic Race 1 at Silverstone that may already be proved half true. As drama hit for key contenders for the crown, it was Ollie Walker (Moto Rapido / SP125 Racing) who came through to take his first win, getting some deserved reward for running at the front after late heartbreak in a few recent rounds. Second was another first as Sullivan Mounsey (iForce Lloyd & Jones) stood on the rostrum for the first time after another standout ride, with Harrison Crosby (Banks Racing) taking his second podium in third place once the dust settled in the wake of the shake-up.
It started with what's become the standard at lights out as Johnny Garness (City Lifting by RS Racing) took the holeshot from pole, with Casey O'Gorman (Microlise Cresswell Racing) slotting into second and an early breakaway forming as the duo were joined by Mounsey, points leader Evan Belford (City Lifting by RS Racing), Carter Brown (City Lifting by RS Racing), James Cook (Wilson Racing) and Jamie Lyons (C&M Motors Ltd / Tooltec Racing).
It didn't take long for that first bout of huge drama though. Heading into Maggots, Lap 3 saw Belford suffer a moment and the points leader tagged closest competitor O'Gorman as, shockingly, both the top two in the standings went down. Riders ok, but the door suddenly wide open for those on the chase to capitalise.
So then there were five, with Garness leading with a small margin by the next lap around. But he wasn't allowed to escape and the chasers soon closed in, with someone else closing in too: Walker. He and Crosby were on a charge and well in the mix in the front group by a third of race distance run.
On Lap 8, more drama. Cook overcooked it right after taking the lead, the number 34 sliding out and losing his shot at glory. The group that had gone from seven to five to seven again had become a six-rider freight train - with Mounsey in the lead.
Lap by lap, so it remained. A classic group battle between the six looked set to roll on right to the end and that it almost did, although Lyons and Crosby lost a little touch with the front four in the last few laps. but even more drama was to come, with Saturday delivering an absolute rollercoaster.
Heading over the line to start the final lap, it was Garness in the lead and Brown fighting off both Walker and Mounsey. But Brown was able to tag back onto the leader and by Luffield, he was close enough to attack - and went for the outside. Locked together initially, there was then contact as the number 74 tagged Garness and it was Garness was forced to sit it up and run on, the number 57 out of the race.
In the aftermath of that, Walker and Mounsey swept through to finish 1-2, both putting in their best races yet and hitting some impressive milestones - having been right there in the battle throughout. Brown crossed the line in third after that final drama of the race, seemingly having made some big gains, but the final final drama of the day was still to come for the number 74. For the incident with Garness, he was given the equivalent of a Long Lap penalty, a three-second time penalty, and drops to fifth - losing the chance to gain a much bigger chunk of points.
The duel between Crosby and Lyons went all the way to the wire and became the fight for third after the penalty for Brown, and the number 15 just took it by 0.075. So Lyons is forced to settle for fourth, and Brown completes the top five in the classification.
Sixth saw Troy Jeffrey (Stiggymotorsport) hold off Harley McCabe (MLav VisionTrack Academy) by half a second, but both impressing and Kiyano Veijer (Microlise Cresswell Racing) likewise as the Dutch rookie took P8. Josh Bannister (Dunsley Heat Racing) took his best finish by far in ninth, beating Harrison Dessoy (Thorneycroft56 Racing) by just 0.046 as he, in turn, held off Lucas Brown (Amphibian Scaffolding / SP125 Racing).
That's a wrap on an incredibly dramatic day at the Silverstone National office, with Belford still ten points ahead of O'Gorman in the standings - but Brown now just a single point further back in third. Will Sunday be another rollercoaster for the BTC? Find out at 14:20 (GMT +1) as the lights go out for Race 2!