Englishman Ed Brand scored a stylish win in the third round of the 2010 Rotax Euro Challenge Senior Max Championship at the Austrian Speedworld venue.
Despite being in his debut year as a Senior Brand overcame a class-filled field of more than 70 drivers, keeping his cool under the hot Austrian sun and claim victory in both the pre-final and the main final on his Kalman Motorsport Birel chassis.
Brand was one of five drivers who were a near constant presence at the head of the timesheets throughout qualifying, the heats and finals but when it mattered most Brand was able to show a clean pair of heels to his rivals as he ran out the overall winner by more than two and a half seconds.
The tone for the weekend was set during Friday's timed qualifying sessions even though Brand was only third fastest behind Polish driver Karol Dabski and local expert Ferenc Kanscar and just ahead of Dutchman Joey Van Splunteren and Spaniard Aavo Talvar.
Dabski beat Talvar and Kanscar to the flag in heat one with Brand heading home Van Splunteren in heat two. Heat three saw Dabski narrowly beat Brand with Talvar a distant third although the Spanish driver made amends with victory in his third and final heat, beating Van Splunteren and Dabski in a straight fight. Van Splunteren claimed a win of his own in the fourth heat with Kanscar in second but it was Brand who assured himself of pole position in the pre final with his second win in the sixth and final heat race with Kanscar third again behind interloper Mats van den Brand.
Starting alongside Brand in the pre final was Dabski with van Splunteren and Talvar on row two and Kanscar and Brand's fellow Englishman Tom Fawcett on row three but when the lights went green it boiled down to a head to head duel between Brand and van Splunteren. Time after time the two swapped the lead with van Splunteren leading into the last lap by barely a kart length. Somehow Brand found a way past his rival on the last lap to claim the win by inches, with Frenchman Antoine Barthon breaking the 'famous five's' stranglehold on the podium with a third place finish.
Talvar took fourth with Englishman James Greenway fifth, Dabski a disappointed sixth and Kanscar only 13th.
If the pre-final was pulsating then the 21-lap main final was relatively sterile as Brand got the jump on van Splunteren at the start and, as the Dutchman became embroiled in a battle for second with Greenway Brand simply pulled away to take an untroubled win by 2.6-seconds.
Van Splunteren eventually got the better of Greenway for second with Barthon, Sweden's John Friberg and Scotland's Ross Wylie completing the top six.