Adam Carroll took a huge leap towards to the A1GP crown for Team Ireland when he overcame the early challenge of Mexico's Salvador Duran to win the Brands Hatch sprint race.
Not only did he take an impressive victory, over seven seconds ahead of India's Narain Karthikeyan, but Carroll's title rivals struggled. Portugal's Filipe Albuquerque finished fifth, with Switzerland's Neel Jani toiling to score just one point in eighth.
It means Carroll takes an eight-point lead over Jani into this afternoon's final feature race, while Albuquerque has closed to within three points of second.
Carroll made a good start, but Duran made an even better one and braved it out around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend. Behind them it was chaos, as Netherlands' Jeroen Bleekemolen made a terrible start from third and Albuquerque looked to have grabbed the place, until he was punted wide by USA's JR Hildebrand, who beat him to it.
Karthikeyan was fifth, ahead of Bleekemolen, New Zealand's Earl Bamber and Jani. The latter's title hopes took a dive when he ran wide at Paddock on lap three, allowing Australia's John Martin past him.
Carroll kept Duran in his sights until the mandatory pitstops when his Status-run squad gave him the perfect stop. In contrast, Mexico's effort was distinctly leisurely and a sticking left-front wheelnut delayed Duran, so he not only lost the lead but also second place to Karthikeyan, who had pitted a lap earlier.
Carroll held a three-second lead, which he extended to over seven by the finish.
"The guys did a fantastic job and the car was really good," he said. His only fright came at Graham Hill Bend on lap 12, when he ran wide onto the grass.
"I ran a little bit wide but it was only a small moment. You can never rest around this track and I made sure I brought it home after that."
Karthikeyan held on to second, well clear of Duran, who came under attack from Hildebrand in the latter stages. "We did a really good job early on, but the pitstop wasn't the best," said Duran.
Albuquerque finished fifth, ahead of Bleekemolen, who did well to soldier on despite a flat-sounding engine. Martin was seventh, well clear of a disappointed Jani, who finished 22s behind his target Carroll in eighth.
Pos Driver Team Time 1. Adam Carroll Ireland 22m32.704s 2. Narain Karthikeyan India +7.230 3. Salvador Duran Mexico +12.340 4. JR Hildebrand USA +12.689 5. Filipe Albuquerque Portugal +13.018 6. Jeroen Bleekemolen Netherlands +13.783 7. John Martin Australia +15.208 8. Neel Jani Switzerland +22.220 9. Nicolas Prost France +22.945 10. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy +27.062 11. Michael Ammermuller Germany +31.947 12. Satrio Hermanto Indonesia +33.159 13. Dan Clarke Great Britain +33.541 14. Franky Cheng China +34.963 15. Alan van der Merwe South Africa +40.488 16. Aaron Lim Malaysia +41.528 Retirements Daniel Morad Lebanon 13 laps Earl Bamber New Zealand 13 laps Clivio Piccione Monaco 8 laps Felipe Guimaraes Brazil 0 laps Fastest lap, Carroll 1m12.276s