Tim Bridgman underlined the strength of his 2009 title bid by winning the first round of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Brands Hatch.
Bridgman led from the start as Tim Harvey and Michael Caine chased, while Tony Gilham won an action-packed pro-am1 category and 17 year-old George Richardson took pro-am2 spoils.
For Bridgman it was a different outcome to the corresponding race of 2008 when he failed to finish.
"I can't say I haven't thought about last year once or twice," he said. "But it was a pretty straightforward race and it has started the season off well."
Bridgman led from the start, but had Harvey and Caine as constant shadows. Then, with the cars Anthony Reid and Jake Rosenzweig off in the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend, a safety car period bunched the field up once more. But Bridgman was able to re-establish his lead to score a classy victory.
"I'm just pleased with maximum points," said Bridgman after the perfect start to the season.
Harvey chased all the way and was less than a second adrift at the flag after 27 laps.
"It could have been any order between the three of us; it was very close," said Harvey.
Any chance of a late-race challenge for the lead from Harvey was thwarted when the race was halted early with a car in the gravel at McLaren. Caine, meanwhile, ran a strong third but was unable to attack Harvey once a lock-up into McLaren left him struggling with a flat-spotted tyre.
"It's a good way to start; you've got to keep getting podiums," said Harvey.
An excellent fourth overall went to Carrera Cup Scholarship racer Tom Bradshaw. A superb start catapulted him into fourth place and he was able to hold the place despite early pressure from team mate Glynn Geddie.
"That's a result I'm happy with," said Bradshaw after finishing the best of the championship newcomers.
Geddie set a fierce pace at the head of pro-am1 in fifth overall, but was under constant pressure from Dean Smith. After the safety car, Geddie found himself struggling with understeer and he ran wide at Paddock, dropping several places as a result.
That assured Smith of fifth place, while through to sixth place and pro-am1 victory went Gilham after moving ahead of Michael Leonard going into Paddock.
"I knew I had to get a good start, and it was a busy race from start to finish," said Gilham.
Leonard had an equally busy race, having run right behind the battling Geddie and Smith for many laps.
"I made a small mistake at Clearways and Tony got a good run on me," said Leonard of the move that settled pro-am1.
Geddie recovered to take third in pro-am1 from Derek Pierce, while a late tangle at McLaren eliminated Robert Lawson, Karl Leonard and Lewis Hopkins. With Karl Leonard out, Richardson moved ahead to claim pro-am2 spoils on a good Carrera Cup debut.
"Fantastic," said Richardson. "I'm not used to doing that many laps!"
The race results remain provisional, subject to judicial and technical matters.