Saturday at Donington Park threw up a serious challenge for the 2021 Honda British Talent Cup, with the standings finely poised and the rain coming down. At the front holding his nerve in a serious show of domination, however, was Casey O'Gorman (Microlise Cresswell Racing)... and the number 67 now leads the standings after breaking nearly 20 seconds clear at the head of the field.
The fight to complete the podium saw Cormac Buchanan (Microlise Cresswell Racing) storm through in the latter stages to catch the duel for second and then steam past for an impressive podium, with Jamie Lyons (C&M Motors Ltd/Tooltec Racing) vs Carter Brown (City Lifting by RS Racing) going all the way to the wire and Lyons coming out on top.
It was O'Gorman in the hot seat from the off as the number 67 streaked away into the lead from pole, with he and Carter Brown pulling a gap early on. From there, O'Gorman was simply unstoppable. Getting the hammer down and the gap going up and up and up, it was a true masterclass in the wet, at one point nearly 20 seconds clear. After the show of domination, O'Gorman then slacked off a little just before the flag, keeping it tidy to the end to take a well-earned 25 points and his seventh win of the season - as well as the Championship lead. But behind him, there was plenty to be decided.
After the initial shuffle it was Rossi Banham (MJL Racing) vs Brown vs Lyons, with Lucas Brown (Amphibian Scaffolding/SP125 Racing) on the scene and Johnny Garness (City Lifting by RS Racing) dropping a few positions. But lap by lap, the group got whittled down as Carter Brown and Lyons pulled away, Lucas Brown crashed out and then Banham too.
Buchanan was the next on the move, up from 14th on the grid to slice past Garness and set off after Brown-Lyons duel. And the Kiwi made up some incredible ground in the latter stages, cutting three and two seconds a lap off those ahead. By Lap 10 he was on the back of them and only a few corners later had passed both, setting off to make some breathing space in second.
As the final lap dawned, O'Gorman was gone and it seemed the podium was settled, with Buchanan in second, Lyons in third and Brown not able to make up much ground. But by the end of the lap the number 74 had dug deep, and as Buchanan crossed the line for P2 the fight for third went right to the wire. Lyons and Brown were side by side on the drag to the line, and the Northern Irishman was able to keep it by just 0.036 - leaving Brown in fourth and therefore one single point behind O'Gorman ahead of Sunday's season finale.
The top five was completed by Rhys Stephenson (Rocket Racing) in some space, with Harrison Crosby (Banks Racing) in sixth just under a second clear of James Cook (Wilson Racing). The number 34 had some close company from Garness, who took eighth but just a tenth in further arrears.
Kiyano Veijer (Microlise Cresswell Racing) took ninth just ahead of American teammate Julian Correa, with Sullivan Mounsey (iForce Lloyd & Jones) missing out on the top ten by just six tenths.
That's it for Race 1, with O'Gorman's demolition job seeing him head into Sunday as the new Championship leader - by a single point. Carter Brown is the rider right on his tail, and after a tough race for Evan Belford (City Lifting by RS Racing) down in P13, the number 52 is now 17 points off the top. And it's just those three who remain in contention, so the 2021 Champion will be O'Gorman, Brown or Belford. Which? We'll find out on Sunday at 11:15 (GMT +1)... so make sure to tune in!