County Durham teenager Matty Graham lifted the BRDC Formula 4 Winter Series title at Brands Hatch on Sunday afternoon.
The 17-year-old from Edmundbyers claimed the championship honours after playing it safe in the weekend’s final race, following a win earlier in the day.
As the championship arrived at the Kent circuit ready for qualifying on Saturday afternoon, Graham had a two-point lead over nearest rival Jake Cook.
Qualifying on the front row for Saturday’s first race, he got a quick getaway at the green light, challenging for the lead into the first corner.
But with his car struggling with understeer, the youngster decided to box clever and stick with second place, a spot he held all of the way to the chequered flag.
Starting from fourth place in Race Two he got another quick start but was unable to improve position, as he continued to struggle with the handling of the car through Paddock Hill bend.
Turning his thoughts towards the championship he decided to drive a steady race and settle for fourth place, which was enough to extend his points lead to five ahead of Sunday’s series showdown.
After drizzle overnight the track was cold but not too treacherous on Sunday morning as the pack went out for their second qualifying session.
This time Graham was the man to beat, taking pole by 0.2secs.
Searing away from the lights he quickly built up a lead of more than a second, and even sudden rainfall did little to slow him down as he enjoyed a lights-to-flag victory, 4.2secs clear of second place Kieran Vernon.
With one race left, Graham knew he needed to coast his car to the finish line to guarantee him the title, and as he lined up from fourth on the grid he knew he just needed to stay safe. At the start he dropped down to seventh, eventually moving up to sixth as he kept his cool to bring the car home and take the championship.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win the Winter Championship,” he said. “We’ve worked hard and Douglas Motorsport have done an excellent job.
“It seemed like nothing was going to go my way at the start. My side of the grid was a bit damp but I still managed to make a good start.
“I was starting to get a good gap in the dry in the opening laps and feeling quite confident before it started to rain.
“As we were all on slicks it was very slippery but I managed to hang on and pull away a bit and get an important win.”
Now the teenager can relax a little bit before he begins his 2014 campaign, and hopes he can land a good drive on the back of the result
“There was a bit of pressure coming into the series as I was touted as a favourite but” he added.
“Hopefully we can use this as a springboard to Formula Renault Eurocup next season.”