GEORGE King has claimed his first major motorsport title as his early dominance of the Gulf Radical Cup paid off at the final round in Dubai.

The Benfleet based King carried an impressive 73-point lead into the final leg of the winter series.

But, with double points on offer in Dubai, and four sprint races plus a longer ‘enduro’ contest after the cancellation of round seven in Qatar, the title was far from certain.

And King was thrilled to be crowned champion.

“It feels a bit unreal to be a champion so early in my career,” said King, who only started racing Mazda MX-5s little more than a year ago.

“It’s been an amazing winter season, with an outcome I could only dream of.

“Conditions were hard out there this weekend, with higher temperatures than we have had of late and Ian [Loggie] fighting me all the way to the final race.

“It was a shame that we both retired from the enduro but we had some good battles on track before that.

“It was great to add more podiums to my record, which ensured that I set new marks for both the number of wins and points scored in a single GRC campaign, and a new lap record was the icing on a very successful weekend.”

Heading to Dubai, only Team JWR team-mate Loggie remained a viable threat.

However, King knew that he basically just needed to shadow the Scot in each outing and pray that his Radical SR3 XX remain reliable.

King secured a podium finish in the opening two races but with another brace of sprint events and the season-ending endurance race still to go, there remained little room for error.

But King started the final day of the campaign in the best way possible, clinching the opening pole position.

The first event saw Loggie seize the lead from the outside of the front row, with King again slotting in behind his team-mate and seeming content to limit his championship gains. With neither man making a mistake over the course of the 25-minute race distance, they crossed the line in close formation to claim yet more silverware for Team JWR.

King, however, was without a win from the round and keen to exploit any opportunity to rediscover the top step of a podium he graced so regularly at the start of the season.

When that chance came, it was in unexpected — and hard-earned — circumstances, as contact at the start of race four shuffled the front of the pack and left King with work to do from fourth place. Showing the sort of pace that he has exhibited throughout the series, however, he quickly regained top spot and began to pull away from the pack.

With one hand and a fair few fingertips on the championship trophy, King knew that he just had to let the final race play out around him.

But he grabbed the early lead regardless, only for the safety car to again thwart any chance of him breaking away.

With Loggie crawling back to the pits, late-stoppers Mohammad Alkazemi and Alex Bukh seized the opportunity to pit and resume at the front of the field. When King subsequently retired his car with an air compressor failure of his own, a different winner was guaranteed, but the title was already destined for Benfleet.