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After an incredibly close qualifying session this morning, F3 Cup’s first race of the weekend would see Irishman Cian Carey become the first driver to win two races in the 2018 season.

As the lights went out, Tony Bishop stalled on pole position, allowing Shane Kelly to grab an early lead into Copse, but second row starter Carey came around the outside and was able to take the lead of the race. Kelly slotted in behind him, ahead of championship leader Stuart Wiltshire and Patrick Jeans.

Carey wasted no time trying to establish a solid lead, but Kelly wasn’t about to let him get away, setting a couple of fastest laps as the University of Wolverhampton Racing driver chased down his Chris Dittmann Racing rival. An interesting battle developed further back, with Mark Harrison and George Line locked in battle for fifth place, separated by less than a second for much of the race.

Between these two battles, Wiltshire played the safe game in third place, controlling his pace to preserve his tyres but maintain a strong haul of championship points to consolidate his lead.

Within a few laps the Line/Harrison battle had a new contender, in the shape of Baptiste Leonard. Similarly another tight tussle emerged between Phillip Jeans and Dave Gillett further back.

Bishop meanwhile was busy making back the places he lost at the start, catching the back markers, as did Darragh Daly who had suffered a similar fate.

In the closing minutes, Leonard started challenging Line, with the pair side-by-side through the last stages of the lap. Kelly also closed on Carey, giving it everything he had, but was unable to take advantage of Carey’s struggles in the Luffield/Brooklands complex.

On the podium, Carey said, “For the early part of the race I felt like I was comfortable and I was pulling away but after I passed the back markers, I fell asleep for a lap or two, and then Shane put me under so much pressure in the last two or three laps! I’m thrilled at the second win in a row so just want to keep this momentum going now.”

Shane Kelly said, “It was the dirty air thing again, so it was a case of sitting back at Copse and then trying again to have another go. We got a great start, probably the best in two seasons, it got me to the front on the inside and I should have kept my foot in but Cian came down the outside and had a better run. It was a fun battle though! The students will be working hard tonight and then we’ll have a go tomorrow.”

Wiltshire commented, “Another podium, some more points, still championship leader…what more can you ask?! Another 20 laps and I would have had the pair of them!” Asked by commentator Mark Werrell if a win was on the cards at Silverstone after a victory at Brands Hatch, he said, “If these guys in front of me slow down a little bit, maybe! At the moment I think they’ve got the legs, but I was saving my tyres for the rest of the weekend.”