OLLIE Pidgley encountered a more taxing visit to Snetterton 300 Circuit than expected during the third event of the MINI Challenge season last weekend, with a top 12 finish in race one his best result at the sunny Norfolk venue.

Arriving at Snetterton off the back of an impressive double top six during the previous race meeting at Rockingham last month, the 20-year-old from Downton in Wiltshire had high hopes of continuing the forward momentum but a combination of factors prevented such a performance.

Pidgley said :“It’s been a really tough weekend.We had a turbo issue in qualifying which held us back, but we had been there or thereabouts in testing on Friday. The team did a good job replacing the turbo for race one but we still really struggled for power for some reason, we’re not sure why.

“At a track like Snetterton, with some really long straights, that’s always going to hurt you but, to be fair, I hold my hands up as well as I don’t think I probably did the best job I could this weekend. I’m determined to hit back strongly at Silverstone next where I know I need to bring my ‘A’ game, hopefully we can be back where we were at Rockingham and fighting for the top six in both races.”

Despite turbo problems in qualifying, the Old English Properties, MSP Capital and Partridge MINI backed racer Pidgley posted the 10th fastest time during a closely fought session. Following the disqualification of pole position qualifier Jordan Collard, though, Pidgley actually started race one from an improved ninth place.

On a busy opening lap, the Wiltshire driver was bundled back to 12th position in the evenly matched mid-pack and before he had chance to try and hit back the safety car was deployed with Will Neal’s MINI needing to be recovered after a first lap incident.

When the action resumed on the fifth tour, Pidgley maintained position with Scott Jeffs in close company but as the laps counted down the first-year MINI driver managed to see off his rival and close more and more on the car of George Sutton ahead.

Into the final tour, lap nine, Pidgley was within 0.3 seconds of Sutton and determined to make a late bid for the place. Despite his best efforts, though, he ultimately settle for 12th position at the squad’s local track.

Lining-up on row seven of the grid for race two on Sunday morning, Pidgley moved up into 13th on the opening lap but was edged back to 14th again prior to the appearance of the Safety Car the next time around following a first lap tangle through the infield.

When racing resumed on the fifth tour, Pidgley ran tight behind Louis Doyle and looked to challenge but he also had to be mindful of Collard who managed to get ahead shortly after. Determined to hit back from 15th position, Pidgley did so on lap six by picking up two places.

Closing to within just 0.2 seconds of Sutton ahead, the Wiltshire racer pressured heavily but couldn’t quite make the breakthrough. Bottled up behind Sutton into the ninth and final lap, Pidgley also had to keep one eye on his mirrors for the recovering Sam Weller and he went on to take the chequered flag just 0.3 seconds outside the top 12.

Pidgley is back in action for rounds seven and eight at the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit on weekend of June 9 and 10.