Scottish racer Ronan Pearson produced one of his strongest weekends on track this season to gain ground in the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE standings as the series headed for Donington Park for the penultimate meeting of the campaign.
The LDR Performance Tuning driver - from Kelty in Fife - went into the weekend looking to build on a top six finish last time out at Croft and showed strong pace from the outset in his William Waugh-backed car to post the eighth best time in pre-event testing.
Going into the weekend proper, the Cobra Sport backed driver was able to maintain his solid form with a late lap in the session seeing him once again post the eighth best time, little more than half a second away from pole position.
A grid penalty for one of the drivers ahead meant Ronan lined up in seventh spot for race one, and he wasted little time in making up ground when the action kicked-off, climbing up into fifth on the opening lap.
Ronan then battled ahead of title contender Max Bird at Redgate on lap three before Bird reclaimed the spot at the same corner two laps later. When Bird then made a move on Max Coates for third, Ronan quickly followed him through to grab fourth and he was able to retain the place to the flag; also securing the Graduate Cup victory amongst the second year drivers.
Race two would follow a similar theme at the start, with Ronan getting away well from third on the grid to retain his place before launching a bid for second on Sam Weller, briefly nosing ahead before settling back into his position.
The teenager would run third for the early laps before fellow Scot Jack Davidson managed to get ahead at Redgate and he would also then lose out to Coates for fourth as he was forced to manage an issue with the gearbox on his car.
Despite that, a dogged drive saw him hold on to take fifth place and more solid points towards his championship total.
The team would work hard to rebuild the gearbox ahead of the final race, where Ronan would again line up in third place on the grid with hopes high of pushing for a podium finish. Unfortunately, the efforts of the team would prove to be in vain as further gearbox gremlins resulted in him being forced to retire to the pits at the end of the green flag lap.
Despite the disappointment of a first DNF of the campaign, Ronan ends the weekend eighth in the overall standings and third in the Graduate Cup - just eight points away from second spot.
"Race three was hugely disappointing but there are plenty of positives for me to take away from this weekend," he reflected. "Things started really well in testing where we were running solidly in the top ten, and I knew there was more still to come.
"Qualifying then went really well and that is such a key part of the weekend in these cars when things are so close, and it put us in a really strong position for the first race. It meant I didn't have to play the long game and could just push for a strong result ,which we scored on merit as the car was really strong. To grab the Graduate Cup win was also really pleasing.
"I was confident of being in the mix for the podium in race two and at the start of the race we looked in a good position to try and achieve that, but there were a few little issues that developed with the car and we slipped back a bit, but P5 was still a really strong result and more good points.
"The team worked so hard on the gearbox ahead of race three so to then not be able to take the start was massively frustrating for myself, and certainly not what the team deserved for its efforts. The only plus point is that because we have to drop our two worst scores and I hadn't had a DNF until then, I still picked up some points which has helped to strengthen my position in the standings.
"I'll just put race three behind me and focus on what was a brilliant weekend up until that point, and hopefully we can replicate the front-running form we showed in the first two races when we head to Brands Hatch for the finale."